If you haven’t read the other four blogs about the cat, and you suffer from worries and anxiety, then I would recommend that you do. They are ‘Don’t Feed The Cat’, ‘The Cat Is Back’, ‘The Cat Lives On’ and ‘I Can’t See The Cat’. These four blogs can help you fully understand your anxiety and help you see the things that unbeknown to you, can be negatively affecting your anxiety and worry habit. Also, the blogs give you lots of tips and advice about how to break the cycle of worry and become anxiety free. The last 18 months for all of us living in a time, while we are making history in this pandemic, has been a challenge. Now we are starting to see us coming out the other side of this. If we use an analogy to see where we are, we have just oven taken the COVID car and in the next few months it will be something we are looking at in our rear-view mirror. But it’s not to say that there might not be more challenges ahead, plus we all have to accept that COVID is here to stay, so now is the time for the world to learn to live with COVID and find the ways that will help us navigate this next stage.
We have in the last 18 months, been bombarded all sides by the government, newspapers, advisory people, scientists, friends, and family, with what is happening and what we should do. This for many of us has been a very scary time, as it has made us fearful of doing even some of the everyday things in life. These things and the freedoms we took for granted, are now ready for us to start to reclaim in our lives again. Obviously for people who are still shielding or are unable to get vaccinated, this path may look quite different for you. With this being the case, we need to be mindful that all the information that we are being bombarded with might not apply to all of us. If we spend our time taking onboard all this information around us, it might not be the right thing for you, but also, we must acknowledge that we can’t pretend it is not happening either. If we spend our time listening to the news, social media, plus everyone around us and their worries, opinions, advice, and fears, this can in turn start to feed our own inner insecurities.
Now is the time to protect our mental health by slowing down the amount of fearful and worrying things we are letting get absorbed into our mind. You might think, “well I know everything that you’re saying, and I don’t see this extra information as important for me”. This is great on a conscious level, but for your unconscious mind it might not have got this message. This being the case, it will mean that you are inadvertently feeding the worry cat within you. The more we feed our inner worry cat, the more worried we will become, just like in the other four blogs, this can become an issue. If we are worrying about things, we know that this can feed the worry habit and make us anxious. This might be happening when we spend too much time absorbed in worrying about things.
With the news over the last 18 months being bombarded with coronavirus headlines, from deaths, growing case numbers and lockdown restrictions; we all get that these stories have been critical to public understanding of the virus, but according to Digital Third Coast survey, 68% of people said the news has left them feeling anxious during the pandemic. Meanwhile, 65% and 67% of respondents reported feeling overwhelmed and burnt out by the news respectively. 54% even said they were cutting back on their news consumption to escape these feelings. With our concern for our family and friends, economy fears, and the fear of the virus itself, the pandemic has left many people navigating feelings of uncertainty. And while it’s understandable to want to stay up to date on the latest public health guidance, overconsumption of the news can be an added source of stress. It is important to strike a balance between staying informed or over consuming everything in your newsfeed, we need to change to preserve your mental health.
Negative news can also affect mood levels and lead to feelings of hopelessness, anger, and fear. One study found that people showed an increase in both anxious and sad moods after only 14 minutes of watching the news. These negative stories can also exacerbate worries about our own personal lives, even if they aren’t directly related to the content of the news story. Just think about it as this, it’s just the studies into the news, so imagine how much other negative information you could be absorbing from your world and the people around you as well.
Remember we do need to be informed on public health guidelines, but moderation is key, so set time limits for your news consumption and try and stay with just a few news sources, as all those different viewpoints might become overwhelming. You could try and subscribe to newsletters re the news, that can summarise things for you, or just watch the headlines.
On social media you should work to remove anxiety-provoking information from your newsfeed or again, you might feel bombarded by things. Give yourself a digital detox time prior to bedtime, to help clear your mind before you go to sleep, as these heavy types of information can often play on our mind as we sleep and cause disturbed sleep patterns. After your allowance of news go in, search for some good news to finish your news time on a high, not a low.
Don’t let other people swamp you with their running commentary or their negative news experiences, help them to step away from this cycle which will help both of you feel better. Take time for positive experiences in the time you have freed up by making these changes, and maybe go on a walk, call a friend, meditate, or watch a fun tv show. Do something that takes your mind off things and can stop life feeding your worry habit. These are all healthy distractions that will keep you in the present moment. Taking the time to do your worry detox will make a big difference in how you feel, and help you positively support your mental health. Sara x