Three ways to reduce news-related anxiety

John-Paul Davies

John-Paul Davies

UKCP psychotherapist John-Paul Davies is a UKCP Transpersonal psychotherapist and author of personal development book “Finding a Balanced Connection” now available on Amazon.

As human beings, we’re programmed for survival rather than happiness and our default tendency is therefore to be problem-focused. That’s why our attention is drawn to news that worries or angers us. These days technology gives us instant 24/7 access to ‘bad’ news, which is what most of the news cycle consists of.  This can make us feel anxious and the more anxious we feel, the more anxiety-provoking stories we seek out.

It’s the vicious circle of today’s media which can become a source of distress for many. It can lead to obsessively scanning social media and websites for bad news, or ‘doomscrolling’ as it’s now known. People are left in a hyper-vigilant, worried, angry or switched-off state that adversely affects their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Some might also understandably try to ease their emotional state in the short-term using behaviours and substances that have longer-term adverse consequences.


What can we do?

It’s important we’re aware of our brain’s natural problem bias. Everything we take in through our eyes and ears affects our thoughts, feelings, body and behaviours. Of course, some people can comfortably consume news without it negatively affecting them but if you are experiencing some degree of bad news-related anxiety, it’s likely you’re going to need to reduce the amount of bad news you’re exposing yourself to. To this end:

  1. Make an inventory of the type of media and social media you’re consuming so that you can make active choices around it.
  2. Regularly check in with yourself. What are you thinking and feeling in response to what you’re seeing and hearing? To become more aware your internal landscape, try to introduce some time in your day to pause and look inwards, without external distractions. Try to notice what dysregulates you. Many of us aren’t consciously aware of our thoughts and feelings from one moment to the next, so we might not even realise we’re doomscrolling until we’re overwhelmed.
  3. Notice when you’re feeling relaxed, inspired or joyful in life. This will help you identify positive alternatives to bad news consumption. This might include:
    • Engaging in mood-boosting behaviours such as mindfulness, getting fresh air, creativity, singing, dancing and speaking to friends who help you soothe your anxiety.
    • Making sure you’re physically active - when your body feels good and safe, your thoughts often will too.
    • Connecting with others - anxiety tends to disconnect us from others, so find ways to connect to, and feel part of a wider, supportive community where you can.

If you’re feeling consistently overwhelmed and anxious, consider talking with a therapist who can help you reduce anxiety, build joy and work towards your goals in life.

If you’re interested in exploring therapy then you can find more information on the UKCP website, including how to find a qualified psychotherapist.  

You can also find UKCP’s webpage, outlining different ways to access therapy, from free to private sessions.  

Watch John-Paul’s YouTube video where he shares some more of his thoughts on the mental health implications of bad news.  


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