Do You Have News Fatigue?

Are you overwhelmed with the news?

Do you dread the constant news alerts popping up on your phone?

Are you sick of hearing about, talking about and thinking about what’s going on in Washington, DC and beyond?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be suffering from new fatigue. I know I am!  I recently got a chance to talk about why news fatigue happens – and more importantly – what to do about it! This segment aired on ScrippsTV channels across the country yesterday – including on our very own Denver Channel 7.

How Psychologists Deal With Stress

Back in the fall I spoke with the Huffington Post about anxiety surrounding the election.  Here’s a quote:

Like everyone else I thought that by now – a full three months after election day – politics would once again be in the background of our lives.  Obviously that hasn’t happened.  Instead, it seems like the stress and dissent has only increased.

Once again I spoke with the Huffington Post this week about how psychologists (no matter their personal politics) are managing with all the stress in the air.  Here’s my my tip:

I really like this..maybe I’ll give it a try this weekend:

 

How to Fight Stress By Learning to Skydive

Skydiving helps decrease stress? What?!

OK, so the title of this post is sort of misleading.  Skydiving by itself probably doesn’t lead to decreased stress (it certainly wouldn’t for me).  BUT, learning a new skill (like skydiving, for example) can be a great way to manage the everyday stressors of life.

I recently came across this article about learning new things:

A piece outlining how the author took up Irish dancing and gained all sorts of wonderful new insights about herself (she was better than she thought she might be, and she became more confident when it came to learning other new skills too).  And low and behold, look what else was in the article:

A quote from an article I wrote 6 years ago about trying new things and the benefits to mental health.

Even though it’s old news on this blog, I still do believe in the importance of learning new things; and putting ourselves in awkward,uncomfortable situations so that we can experience the success of coming out the other side.  As this time of year is gray, cold and generally nasty in most parts of the country this time of year – it can be the perfect opportunity to take skydiving Irish dancing crocheting lessons.

Managing Holiday Stress

We’re in the home stretch! The kids are out of school and the holidays are almost here. While this is an exciting, magical time for some; for others it can be quite stressful.  I recently had a chance to talk to my dear friend (who also happens to be a psychologist), Dr. Debbie Sorensen, about how to handle the busy-ness and  expense of the holidays.

Check it out:

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And I love the little cheat-sheet Dr. Sorensen made for the podcast episode:

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Interested in listening to more podcasts? Check it out here:

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Families and the Ties That Bind (Hint: None of them are political)

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There is a lot of tension in the country right now.  And we knew it was going to be this way, right? No matter the outcome of the election, there were always going to be many, many millions of folks who’d supported the losing side.  And after a full of year of debate, nastiness and name-calling in the political arena, more rancor post-November 8th was exactly what NONE of us needed.

And now here come the holidays.  A time that’s supposed to be shiny, bright and Pinterest-worthy – but is actually often stressful, disappointing and overwhelming.

I’ve been talking to quite a few folks in the media this week about tips for how to manage holiday gatherings with family members who are on different sides of the political debate.  A few things have come to my mind in these conversations, not the least of which is:

We don’t love our families (and our families don’t love us) because of our political views

The love shared between families is made up of many (in my mind, more interesting) reasons:

  • We share the same history – the history we can remember and the history that happened generations before we arrived
  • We have lots of shared memories – of things good, bad and in between
  • We root for the same football team, laugh at the same dumb movies, like the same weird food, etc
  • We have forgiven each other for mistakes and hurts big and small – and will continue to do so many more times in the years to come
  • We accept each other for what we really are: Not what we post on our Facebook page or send in our holiday cards
  • We sit with each other when we are sick, hold each other’s hands when we grieve and celebrate together when a milestone is reached

Feelings about the election and the coming administration are intense, but let’s all try to keep it in perspective.  Shared political beliefs rarely occur in families anyway, and this year is no different.  To expect agreement this holiday season will likely only result in frustration.  Instead try focusing on all the many things we do have in common and love about each other.  Pumpkin pie, anyone?

Coping With Election Stress

We’re getting close, folks. Just a month left until the election – and I think all of us are feeling the uptick of anxiety.  Sure, every election year carries its own stress and worries, but for many of us, this year’s presidential election feels particularly contentious/nasty/overwhelming.  Even those of us who try to stay out of the political fray are feeling it.

So what can we do to manage over the next few weeks? How do we stop ourselves from succumbing to political hype, leaving ulcers, tears and panic attacks in their wake?

Keep it in perspective.  Remember when people threatened to leave the country if Bush, Jr won? Remember the “No-Bama” stickers? The anti-Catholic/Kennedy sentiments? Presidential elections are often nasty, doom-and-gloom affairs.  There are ALWAYS people predicting the end of our country if so-and-so wins.  Thankfully, the U.S. has withstood all those prophesies.  No matter which side of the divide you’re on, chances are very high that we will survive no matter who our next president is.

Keep it local.  Many political and government experts tell us that it is our local elections that actually have the most impact on our day-to-day lives.  School bonds, town councils and other super-local issues can shape our lives in very tangible ways.  Keeping this in mind can help keep the importance (and non-stop coverage) of the national elections in perspective.  I.e., “My favorite presidential candidate may not win, but I feel great about the direction my city is taking.”

Keep in contained.  Mud-slinging and name-calling may have always been a part of presidential politics, but 24 hour coverage on TV, radio, print media and social media is new.  When I go online, sometimes I just want to hear about the most recent celebrity gossip.  Unfortunately for my mental health, I am often confronted with the newest, nastiest election news as well.  In other words: It’s hard to escape the coverage! In our hyper-connected world, keeping election news to a minimum may just mean turning off all media. Gulp.

Check out my other article about election stress”

Pre-Election Stress Disorder: Do You Have It?

Pre-Election Stress Disorder: Tips For Coping

…and because this too shall pass:

Post-Election Stress Disorder

 

Election Stress: When Politics Make You Want to Scream

I don’t care who you are or where you live: no American is immune to election stress.  Even when we want to escape the coverage of the candidates, the caucuses, the primaries – it’s next to impossible to do so! And the really frustrating thing? It’s not even close to being over (or reaching its peak, for that matter).

Way back in 2012 I wrote a post about Pre-Election Stress Disorder.*  Remember 2012? We thought we had it rough then! Fast forward 4 years and here we are in the midst of the nastiest presidential race in my memory (and I’m not that young).

I was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post about how to cope with election stress this time around.  The tone is a little silly and tongue-in-cheek, but I think the issue is real.  Constant election coverage, and the often negative banter of folks on ALL sides can have an impact of mental health.  In the article, I offer a bunch of ideas about how to cope when you notice your stress level rising.  My favorite? Check it out:

Remind yourself of the good.

A little compassion goes a long way. Research shows that generosity is cyclical: Kindness makes you happier, and happiness makes you kind. Try to engage in that behavior when you’re stressed about the negativity of the news. Volunteer at a local charity, like an animal shelter or a food bank.

“There are still a lot of wonderful things happening in the world and people making positive change,” Smith said. “That’s hard to remember when candidates rip each other apart, so actively remind yourself of that.”

Read the entire article over at Huffington Post Lifestyle.

 

 

 

When You’re Afraid to Take Your Kids to School

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…or go to the movies

…or go to the mall

…or go the the holiday parade

Sadly, many of us are questioning our time in large crowds these days.  What seems like a constant barrage of terrifying reports of shootings has all of us scared.  While we know that the vast majority of us will be safe as we go about our day-to-day routines, it can be easy to wonder:

What if my family is the next one to experience violence?

Calming our nerves (and the nerves of our kids) can be tough, but it’s possible.  Here’s how:

Keep doing what we’re already doing.  Most of us have some pretty good stress-management strategies on board already.  Knitting, praying, walking, talking with friends  – these are all examples of ways to cope with stress.  The key is to keep using them now that we need them most.

Turn off the TV already.  It’s easy to overdo it when it comes to media coverage of current events.  Normally that’s OK, but when it comes to difficult, distressing stories less is more.  Learn the basics then turn it off.

Help someone else.  We know that volunteering helps our community, but what we sometimes forget is that it’s good for our mental health, too.  There are about a million opportunities to give our time and resources this time of year, making finding volunteer options as easy way to cope with the stress of the news.

Want more ideas about how to cope with violence in the news? Check out this helpful article over at APA.