Calming the mind amid a tornado of negative news

Calmness is the cradle of power… you create your own calm!

The cauldron of negativity is bubbling with news about deaths, accidents, corruption, crime, war, shootings and disasters of every kind bombarding us non-stop via breaking news on TV channels, news flashes on phone and gory front-page images in the print media.

From the Douglas High killings to the Bihar hit-and-run, from bank scams to the mystery surrounding Sridevi’s sudden demise, there is just no escaping the relentless assault of the macabre visuals or the emotionally-draining write ups about a world that seems hopelessly beset with calamity. And psychologists the world over concur that “all this negativity is certainly impacting the human brain by feeding into the already ingrained negativity bias.”

Exposure to violent incidents may have serious and long-lasting psychological effects on individuals “leading to stress, anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some cases,” British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey, who specializes in the psychological effects of media violence, said in an interview.

No wonder mood swings are a common phenomenon these days as the human mind tries to cope with real and perceived threats magnified by graphic and sometimes uncensored images on the social media. The negative stimuli seep in through all the five senses and the impact is magnified as the viewer/reader unwittingly becomes part of the tragedy by reliving it again and again. Even if events happen in far away Syria, Iraq, USA or France, the images bring the tragedy and its trauma home.

What is the recourse then? Should we shut our eyes to reality? How do we live in the world and yet maintain our sanity? How do we Keep Calm and Carry On?

Thankfully, just as there are problems, there are ways to cope. All we need to do is look. Instead of getting overwhelmed, some swear by the basic “tension release techniques” like the Monkey stretch, Mindfulness, Four square breathing, Music therapy, physical exercise or the Five-Second Wall Push, while others prefer to simply “switch off!” Not from reality, but its morbid portrayal on a loop.

Behavioral research points out categorically that “repressing anxious thoughts” does not work as they tend to “pop up again, sometimes with more intensity,” so a concerted “cognitive distancing” is essential. “Get up and get moving” insist experts, “take a deep breath, get present in the moment and ask yourself what is important this very second.”


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