How to stay balanced during troubling news events

Person looks at phone

The news may feel troubling, traumatic, angering, frustrating, or scary. We all have instances where we find it both difficult to engage with current events and also find it difficult to ignore them.

It is important to be aware of what’s happening. It’s also vital to take care of yourself and your mental health.

Notice when there’s a conflict between what the news offers you and what is best for your individual mental wellbeing. Instead of ruminating on what is happening, you can focus on what is within your control.

Think about how the news makes you feel when you consume it.

  • Find content that is fact-based, reputable or uses primary sources rather than viewing memes or personal opinions on social media.
  • If you notice increased stress, limit your news intake for a bit.
  • If you’re feeling paralyzed or anxious, act. Do something constructive for a cause you believe in to help you feel better.

Engage in meaningful activities.

  • Find an activity you enjoy and do it, rather than fixating on news or social media coverage,
  • Get involved in issues that are meaningful to you.
  • Stay socially connected and lean on your friends when you’re feeling stressed.
  • Stay active – moving your body helps release stressful energy.
  • If you have a therapist, talk to them about your feelings to help you manage.

Be mindful of your surroundings when sharing opinions.

  • Avoid assumptions about other people and how they think.
  • Anticipating differences in opinions can help prepare you for difficult conversations.
  • Even with like-minded people, remember that someone might be trying to limit news exposure.

Be open to learning about other points of view. There are always reasons why people feel the way they do about certain issues or people. Consider using this cycle for conversations:

  • Ask open ended, genuinely curious, nonjudgmental questions.
  • Listen to what people you disagree with say. Deepen your understanding with follow-up inquiries.
  • Reflect back their perspective by summarizing their answers and noting underlying emotions.
  • Agree before disagreeing by naming ways in which you agree with their point of view.
  • Share your perspective by telling a story about a personal experience. People tend to best process stories, rather than logic.

Stay close to people with whom you disagree if you can safely do so. Some worry that differences in how we digest the same events will further divide our communities. Counteract this in your life by maintaining close relationships – even with those who don’t see eye to eye with you. Test out how it feels to stay friendly with acquaintances who support opposing viewpoints.

Plan an enjoyable event. Life will go on after this news cycle, so planning an event can help reinforce that notion.

Mental Health Support Options for UNC Students

It can be hard to know which support options might work best for your needs. There are a range of resources offered to UNC students to support you through difficult times. 

“I want to talk to professional support.”

  • MENTAL HEALTH: Counseling and Psychological Services offers mental health support 24/7 at 919-966-3658. You can also initiate therapy, medication management or find a referral for a therapist or psychiatrist in the community by calling M-F between 9-12 or 1-4. 
  • WELLNESS: Wellbeing Coaching offers individual appointments with Student Wellness coaches to support holistic wellness issues including mood, substance use and stress.
  • ACADEMICS: Academic Coaching helps you balance academic demands with life demands. 

“I want to connect with other students to find support and talk.”

  • Peer 2 Peer program  offers online one-to-one sessions with peer responders. Students can sign up to meet with a person with similar lived experience or relevant training. The option to remain anonymous is also available. 
  • UNC Wellness Network offers support groups with trained student facilitators.
  • CAPS groups over Zoom are opportunities to connect with people to feel less alone and less isolated while navigating challenges together. Led by CAPS staff.
  • Student organizations provide connection with students who have similar interests.
  • Learning Center Workshops provide academic assistance among students who need similar supports. Led by Learning Center staff.

“I want to connect with supportive people with my background or identity.”