5 Tips to Preserve Your Emotional Health after Tragic News Events

Research shows that viewing of tragic news stories can lead to fear, anxious feelings, and even physical ailments. In one such study researchers monitored the stress levels of children, grade 6 to 12 who had observed the Oklahoma City bombing. Children who “ reported that “most” or “all’ of their television viewing was bomb related, had more PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms than those who watched less television. This finding remained true even if the participants who watched less television had lost a relative in the bombing.

In another study, researchers divided adult participants into two groups. Researchers then showed one group videos containing violence while the other group was made to watch non-violent material. The group that watched material with violent images exhibited higher levels of anxiety than the other group.

Seeing that we are bombarded by gruesome images on news medias after every tragic story, it is imperative to know how to protect our emotional health. Here are five tips on how to preserve your emotional health:

1. Recover by Relaxing

Repeated viewing of violent images triggers a stress response, causing our bodies to produce the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol, over time, can lead to adverse health consequences. Dr. Herbert Benson of Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, says that we can counter the body’s stress response by triggering the body’s relaxation response. Dr. Benson, suggests exercises such as repetitive prayer, visualization of peaceful scenes, and deep abdominal breathing as ways to counter stress.

2. Avoid Repetitive Viewing
A good strategy to preserve emotional health is to avoid repetitive watching or listening tragic and violent news. While it is important to stay informed, it is not necessary to watch the same violent or tragic news story over and over again. Dr. Hutchinson, past president of the Washington Psychiatric Society, says that memories of traumatic events can either be imprinted on our brain, leading to recurring emotional impact, or erased from memory resulting in mental fog and cognitive challenges.

3. Avoid Watching Gory Details
Media outlets are into sensationalism and gore as this is what sells news and give them high ratings. However, the viewing of these types of images is correlated with higher levels of stress and anxiety.
Not only does violence in social media affect stress levels, but also research shows that in young children, mirror neurons in their brains may create an urge to mimic what they see in violent scenes. Also, there is some evidence that repetitive viewing of these images desensitizes us to violence in real life.

4. Keep a Balanced Perspective

Don’t let the tragic news skew your view of the world. The good deeds done each day are far more numerous than the acts of hatred and violence. The over-reporting of violent acts can make us feel as if evil is lurking behind every corner. However, this is not the case. It is important to remind yourself that there is still a lot of good in the world and that the vast majority of people are not terrorists are murderers.

5. Self-care by Exercise

We can overcome the stress that comes from watching tragic events by physical activity. Exercise counteracts stress in many ways. For example, exercising such as jogging or fast walking triggers the body’s production of endorphins which causes us feel more relaxed and have a more positive state of mind.

Exercise can also lead to better sleep. A good night sleep can be a great stress reliever and like exercise can result in the reduction of muscle tension and other physical issue caused by stress.

About Elim

Elim Counselling Services is a Christian Counselling ministry that provides professional counselling for individuals, couples and families. If you are not familiar with Elim Counselling and your first contact with us is online, we would be happy to hear from you. To book an appointment or make an inquiry please contact us by calling (613) 699-1677 or by email at mhart@elimcounsellingministry.com. All inquiries are treated with the strictest of confidence.

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