How can I watch the news without getting stressed?

I want to talk to you about the news and the impact of the news on your wellbeing and your happiness level.

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with that, because how many people feel upbeat and happy after watching the news? Not many I should think. Actually quite the opposite. I know that from personal experience, and from talking to some of my clients, watching the news can be extremely anxiety and stress provoking. There is the cost of living crisis, the latest changes in the government, the war in Ukraine. And those are just the big ones. Those are just the big, big titles, and then you’ve got the smaller, horrible things that happened. And that gets to you. And then it gets to me.

I remember when COVID first started, you know, when COVID wasn’t completely in England, yet, before the first lockdown, the news were full of that airborne virus that was contaminating millions of people, killing 1000s of people first in China, then in Italy. Then in France, it came to the UK. And I used to have health anxiety. So you can imagine that an airborne virus that kills undiscriminately 1000s of people hit all the right buttons to get my stress level right up there. And it got to a point where I was in tears before the first lockdown. I just could not think, I was so scared. Because that’s all I could hear. That’s what the news were talking about. And I got into that weird thing of almost being addicted to watching the news. The news were full of COVID. Just hearing about it would make me stressed and anxious. And yet, I kept on watching the news again and again. And again.

Until a Saturday morning. I woke up and I was talking to my husband. I was so scared that I was in tears. He basically told me to pull myself together, which was a very good reminder that I can help myself. I’m a yoga teacher. I know yoga, I teach yoga, I can help myself. Why didn’t I think about that earlier? That goes to show that sometimes you have all of the techniques. And yet, you don’t use any of them. You need a reminder to remember that you can do something.

So off I went and I did some yoga. I did the earth sequence, which some of you know, and which is the stress buster number one. I did some mindfulness practice, I remember doing finger breathing and another mindfulness practice, which was to pick up the first thing in front of you and look at it. I remember it was a pencil. I picked it up and really looked at it. I noticed the colour, the texture and all the rest of it. None of those techniques take a long time. And they got me out of my anxiety and fear. Enough to realise that: “Hold that thought. You’re not helping yourself here. By watching the news constantly, that keep triggering all of the things that you know, are going to trigger you. What on earth are you doing? Help yourself a bit here?”

So at the moment, in the news, i there are different trigger points. Financial security, how much will the mortgage be, the inflation going up. It’s not great. Some of you must be feeling exactly how I felt that Saturday morning and going, oh my god, this is ridiculous. I can’t take this anymore. What do I do?

Because you can’t change any of that. That’s the situation in the world, in the economy in the country. You can’t change that. The only thing you can change is the way you deal with it. And I can help you in the same way I could help myself, and you can help yourself as well. You actually can help yourself to not feel so scared and so stressed because those are perfectly normal feelings, but they’re not nice. And when they start impacting you to the point where you end up like I was on that Saturday morning, where I was frozen, sitting in bed crying… You’re better than that, you can be stronger than that, right?

So the first thing you can do is obvious. And yet, it’s not always easy. Don’t watch so much news. At the time, before I took a hold of myself, I would have the radio on in the morning, I was constantly checking the Guardian website on my phone and when my husband came back from work he switched on the news. So whatever you’re doing now, if you feel that it’s too much, start to take it down. Obviously, you want to still be aware of what’s going on in the world. So keep it to one source of information: morning news, evening news, checking the newspaper, maybe in the morning and in the evening. We’ve got plenty of choice these days. So regulate the amount of time you watch the news.

The second thing you can do, is to do some yoga. For those of you who know it, the earth sequence is just amazing. It is the stress buster number one. There is a video on my YouTube channel for it. It’s such a great sequence if you feel stressed. The earth sequence is great, but any yoga will help. Because when you are scared and stressed, all of the stress in your mind translates into tension in your body. You’ve probably felt that, haven’t you? You’re worried about or you’re tense about something at work, and automatically, there’s tension in your shoulders, tension in your arms, tension in your lower back. Or you have an argument with somebody and when you step out of that argument, you realise that your shoulders are up towards your ears and that your stomach is clenched. So whenever you’re stressed, you can be sure that there is tension in your body. So do some yoga to release that tension. You can just do some twisting, either standing or sitting. You can do some side bends, which are really good as well. You can do some shoulder movements. Or you can do more of what you know. Classical postures, like the cat, are nice easy ones. Most people know the cat, where you are usually on all four, and you move the back fluidly from the base of the spine up into the neck, rounding the back like a cat and then stretching it the other way. You can also do it sitting. You can do it standing with your hands on your knees. Any yoga that you know will help you.

So first of all don’t watch so much news, then do some yoga, and finally the third thing you can do is: relaxation. As I said, when you feel stressed and anxious not only do you build tension in your mind, you build tension in your body. And it can impact the way you sleep. Either because you can’t sleep or because your sleep is agitated and not restful. Basically, you feel tired. And the problem when we start feeling tired is that we are more susceptible to stress. We are more prone to being triggered, to being anxious. So it’s a perfect storm: you feel stressed, you don’t sleep well, you get more tired, and because you’re more tired, you get stressed more easily, which will impact your sleep even more and so on and so forth. You see where this is going. So if you find that your stress level is affecting your sleep, it’s really important to do something because if you don’t sleep well and you’re tired, then you could get even more stressed and even more tense, which will have more of a detrimental effect on your sleep. And it gets worse and worse. So you really want to do something about that. And doing guided relaxation is brilliant for that. When you do a guided relaxation, you release the stress at very, very deep levels. First you release the stress from your physical body.And then you start to relax your mind, you relax your breath, you relax your whole being when you do a relaxation. A 20 minute relaxation is equivalent to two to three hours of sleep. It’s that powerful. So, find a 20 minutes guided relaxation, and do it. There are a few of those relaxation on my Happy Body, Happy Mind membership.

If you decide to sign up to the membership, you have immediate access to three or fours that are already there. And there are more coming up because more videos get added to the membership every month.

So those are my three tips to if you find that the news are really getting to you, and are impacting you negatively:

  • First of all, regulate the amount of news that you take in, if you know it’s getting to you. You don’t need to know all about it. You need to be kept updated of what’s going on in the world, obviously. So find one source of information that’s not too stressful, something that just gives you the facts. And look at that once a day, maybe twice, if you like.
  • Second one, do some yoga. As I said, those of you who are already yogis and yoginis, use it, do some yoga to release the tension from your body and from your mind.
  • Number three, relaxation. Relaxation is really going to help you to take that stress out of your system at a very, very deep level.

So to sum up, watching the news can be negative to your wellbeing and increase your stress level, but you can do something about it, as we’ve just discovered.

If you’d like more tips, and more ongoing support, then head over to the membership you can join here. It’s £25/month. You get access to a library of classes that are accessible to all abilities. They are short, the longest one is about 20 minutes. So they’re very easy to fit in into your day. You’ve got relaxation, you’ve got classes to energise and you’ve got classes to relax. And on top of all of that recorded material that gets added to every month, you also have every month a live yoga class and a live meditation class. So as soon as you sign up, you get access to all of that. So it will be great to have you over there. If you feel that you could use that ongoing support.

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