Staying Positive in A Worrisome Time

I’m sure that most readers will agree that it’s difficult to stay positive in this worrisome time. The negative news cycle of the past few weeks supersedes some of the worst news cycles I’ve experienced in the past twenty-five years.

This recent news cycle involves war, climate-related disasters, political fights, gender-based protests, and mass murder.  All of this is coloured with reports of anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia, and racial unrest.  Stories of starvation, torture, and economic difficulties are featured daily. Such a news cycle creates understandable uncertainty. 

News Addiction

I confess to being a news junkie. I’m addicted to news consumption.

Daily news consumption began during the last ten years of my career. News clippings from major daily papers were on my desk every morning when I arrived at the office.   I needed to be ready to respond to requests for comments when news related to child welfare, child deaths, government announcements or other news related to children’s issues was featured. 

During 9/11 when our son was in his senior year in Boston and the US/Canada border was closed, I became addicted to the news because of the terror attacks. He could not come home and we could not enter the US to see him.  I awoke every night to turn on the TV only to have my anxiety raised as I watched repeated scenes of the Twin Towers falling. 

Since retirement, I’ve continued to watch television newscasts and read daily newspapers although I realize how this habit results in feelings of tension, anger, and hopelessness.

white printer paper on brown wooden table
Worrisome time — photo by Luis Cortes on Unsplash

Limiting News Consumption 

Although consuming news on television and from various newsfeeds can help one stay informed, it also causes stress. To stay positive, I’ve limited my news consumption. In times past, I’ve taken news breaks — for a weekend and, once, for a whole week! For now, I limit myself to one hour per day.

As well, I purposefully limit my sources.  I watch CBC and BBC cable newsfeeds and read reports from The Globe and Mail or The Guardian Newspapers.  Occasionally, I check US cable news reports. I don’t use — nor trust — social media for news.  

Strategies for Staying Positive

Staying positive when worrisome news is happening in the world takes determination.

A daily walk outdoors to connect with nature instead of the constant negative stimulation from news reports does wonders for my mental health Breathing fresh air restores emotional equilibrium. Steps away from our house there’s a conservation area with a trail through the woods to a nearby river.  The colours alone provide restorative medicine to relieve anxiety in these autumn days.  The sound of the flowing river water is relaxing.  There are always birds or other wildlife to take my mind to a different level. 

I also turn to my back garden for a mental boost and, sometimes, a physical workout! Even when the weather is cool and windy, I am fully engaged as I putter around my plants and shrubs.  It’s not unusual to lose track of time passing while gardening.

Staying positive also involves self-care, which means different things for each of us. Sometimes it’s physical — like a treat of a mug of fresh coffee or apple cider or some form of exercise.  Spiritual self-care to find tranquillity may involve religious activities or meditation to open the heart.  Emotional self-care can come from music, laughter, or losing myself in a favourite hobby. Perhaps it’s an age thing, but the repetitive motions involved with knitting work wonders for anxiety reduction.

Finally, spending time with loved ones improves my positivity.  My husband is always a ‘glass half full’ thinker so his comments on world affairs offer perspectives that balance the negativity in newscasts.  My grandchildren are young enough to be oblivious to this worrisome news cycle. There’s nothing like playing a game with them, hearing their stories, drawing pictures, or baking cookie treats to erase my worries.

As I grow older I am aware that my time in this world is limited.  By taking steps to limit news consumption I gain time to do things that make me happy.  Since news is repeatedly recycled, if I miss one report, I can be sure that it will find me at another time. I don’t need to know everything when it happens and I certainly won’t lose out!

8 Replies to “Staying Positive in A Worrisome Time”

  1. Great post! I love all your strategies to combat the negative news. I try to incorporate all of them into my daily life. We usually watch 1/2 hour of local and then 1/2 hour of national news each week day. But now we are traveling, and only see bits and pieces on our phones. While I think we have a responsibility to be informed, the break is nice. I do remind myself the news has a focus on the upset, and there are many wonderful and nice people still in the world. I don’t think the repetitive motion of knitting which calms you is age-related. I remember reading a story about a woman who went into prisons and taught knitting. It took a while for her to convince the head management to allow her to come in, but once she did, it was a very positive experience.

    1. I just had lunch with a friend who recently returned from travelling for six weeks in South America. She told me that she missed news on many days as she doesn’t understand Spanish and could not connect online. Although she missed some world news she did not feel out of touch! She also told me that it took little time to reconnect with top issues. Perhaps her experience serves as a lesson!
      Thanks for your comment about knitting and ageism. It’s a hobby that always helps me re-balance! I’m sure people confined to prison life found it a productive way to spend endless days.

  2. As a child during the Korean War I said to my dad “I’ll be glad when the war is over and there won’t be any more news on TV.” I was not happy when he replied that there would always be news. My feelings on the matter are the same decades later. My husband’s handling of the news is similar to yours and he keeps me informed, with me listening as long as I can. Thank you for the great suggestions for restoring balance to your life and regaining peace of mind.

    1. Your father was a wise man. His advice that there will always be news is true. I’m sure there will always be news broadcasters that admonish us to ‘stay tuned’ as a technique to keep us captivated and tantalized. I try to ignore these comments knowing that what will come is usually a repetition of what’s already been aired. Tune out and enjoy something that makes you happy!

  3. I’ve very much adopted your approach by limiting my exposure to “the news” in preference for the things I can have some influence over. What I really miss are those weekly town newspapers that seemed to fold 20 or more years ago, full of good news stories and photographs from around the locality with details of weddings, babies being born, scout jumble sales, winners of WI jam competitions, children finding buried treasure, reviews of the latest amateur theatre production etc… It was always exciting flicking through just to see whom you recognised, not to mention the fleeting fame that came from being featured yourself.

    1. I agree. Those weekly newspapers are a loss especially in terms of bringing us community news. I remember my father, a prairie farmer, reading every word of the Western Producer newspaper for news of politics, grain prices and weather predictions. When he finished his reading, my mother scanned the obituaries and clipped recipes. I don’t know of any weekly papers that survived takeovers by Canadian national papers. Sadly, shortly after each takeover, the smaller newspapers have all been closed.

    1. I’m happy to know it struck a chord! Enjoy your day!

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