Never more so than now has there been such negative stories and images on TV, radio, social media etc regarding the current situation in Ukraine. We are seeing this in real time like never before, with footage from smart phones being made available to watch as it happens. What with Covid before that, which is now, it seems, an ‘old’ news story, this just adds another layer of negative news which we have had to process. It doesn’t stop there either; discussions around the kitchen table, when getting together with friends or when at work reinforces this so there appears to be no getting away from negative overload.
So how are our minds dealing with all of this and where does all this negativity go?
Like anything in life, the things we are exposed to on a daily basis leave an imprint in our minds and will sit within our inner mind (subconscious) like a reference book on the shelf of a library. Within those ‘books’ are lots of emotions and feelings, good and bad, dependent upon the experience. If there has been a lot of exposure to negative news stories, this can leave us feeling anxious, worried, fearful and overwhelmed by it all. These feelings will come to the surface which can then affect other areas of our life, an example being sleep. Sleep can be hugely affected by what we have seen, read, heard during the day. I have seen this in particular with children who have sleeping issues because of what they have tapped into during the day and the inability to switch it off. Their imaginations can take them on a journey of ‘what if’s just like us adults, with fears about safety and parents/themselves getting hurt or dying being at the forefront of their minds.
What we THINK makes us FEEL in a certain way which makes us BEHAVE in a certain way so, for example, thoughts about war can lead to feelings of anxiety/fear which can affect how we sleep
So what do we do about it?
- It seems obvious – remove the trigger or limit your exposure to it. Of course, it is important to keep yourself up to date but think about the amount and the time that you tap into it. Is it a good idea to watch the news at 10pm before bed for example?
- Replace it with an activity which does the opposite, creating calmness and peace, such as meditation, reading or listening to music
- The use of smartphones – tapping into the deluge of news stories first thing in the morning/last thing at night to update yourself will have an effect on the rest of your day and night. Allocate a time in your day for this and if necessary, mute the phone and turn off any news notifications
- I’m always one for journaling as I think it’s a really good way of putting your reflections down onto paper, offloading and freeing up space in your mind. It’s like talking through writing which can be very cathartic. Jot down your worries and explore……ask yourself questions such as:
– Is this a valid worry worth giving time/energy to?
– If so, what is it about X that I am worried about?
– What do I believe about X?
– What do I imagine will happen?
– What am I frightened of?
– Is X within my control to do something about, or not? etc etc
- With children, get them to talk about their day – what they have seen, read, heard etc. Alleviate fears by being aware of what negative sources they can tap into such as a TV which is on, a radio broadcasting the latest updates from Ukraine. Children will catch snippets and then their imaginations run riot – are we going to get bombed? Are we going to get hurt? Will Mum and Dad die etc which evokes unsafe feelings
“We suffer more in imagination than in reality”
Just try to be aware of what your mind and your children’s minds are absorbing and how it affects you and them. Protecting yourselves and your children from negative news overload is important for overall mental wellbeing.
Please seek further support if you feel you need more help.
I specialise in helping both adults and children reduce and control their anxiety and give them the tools to manage it going forward so they can live the life they want without limitations.
For more info, you can find me at www.annebayatihypnotherapy.co.uk.
Free discovery calls are available