Written by Emily Hahn Watson 12/15/2022

Have you ever dreamed of a simpler time? I know I have. My dreams lead me to growing up in Syracuse, New York in the 1980’s when we didn’t have a mobile device or even a color television. My fun was outside with friends, for hours playing games, running, digging tunnels in the snow, etc. We spent lots of time as a family and with neighbors and friends close by. We walked pretty much everywhere. We received our news from the newspaper and television in small increments. Of course there was bad news on occasion and we talked with friends and family about it and helped each other through hard times.

I was an early adopter of MySpace, Facebook, and all things social media and internet but it never filled up a lot of space and time in my life until the pandemic hit and we were quarantined inside. I worked from home at the time and found myself reaching for my iphone more and more whenever I had downtime. I knew I was developing some unhealthy coping mechanisms by being so connected to my phone and the overwhelming amount of information I was consuming.

Around that time I started to think about healthy vs unhealthy coping skills and made a list of coping behaviors I could adopt other than social media and news feed searching. I came up with some adaptive coping strategies such as: take a walk, do Pilates, meditate, call a friend, limit screen time (30 min), do a craft, etc. Whenever I was getting ready to reach for the iphone I would take that list out and do one of those activities instead. It wasn’t foolproof but did alleviate my stress and made me feel better overall. 

I’m sure many of us have been a victim of being overwhelmed by the bad news in the world and would like some problem focused coping activities. When I was getting ready to write this article I researched “what are coping skills to use with bad news” and received so many responses to my search related to what coping skills activities help when you can’t remove negative news articles completely. After reviewing what was available, I found that many coping skills activities for adults were in the categories of getting involved, self care and spending time with people who are positive and nurturing to you. I have made a list below to summarize some active coping strategies below.

  1. Think Globally, act locally. What this really means is that when you are dealing with the negative psychological effects of bad news on a large scale it can be incredibly overwhelming. Pay attention to the ideas that are important to you and find a local charity or cause to assist. At CORE, we are closely involved in the Relay for Life and would love to have you join our team:
  2. Spend a minute being mindful – Meditation and being mindful is considered a positive adaptive coping mechanism and is one of the most helpful coping skills for anxiety.
    • Yoga and deep breathing are examples of physical coping skills. CORE offers a Restorative Yoga class
    • There are many guided meditation options on YouTube. The important thing when choosing a guided meditation is to feel comfortable with the voice guiding you. Here is a short one I like: https://youtu.be/psU7jLzN7RE.
    • Meditation Oasis offers several free guided meditations Meditation Oasis
  3. Exercise
    • Sign up for private lessons to get your started at CORE. Try personal training or Pilates
    • Join a group or a class When trying to cope, group activities are a good distraction from the “negative news search” are noted to reduce stress!
  4. Unplug – In Health Psychology web searches, I noted that headline stress disorder is a real thing! Sometimes the best problem focused coping strategies are the simplest. Just disconnect!

Recognize you aren’t alone – We have all felt overwhelmed and sometimes turn to negative coping strategies at times. Step away from your computer and join one of our group activities

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