Sad about The Queen’s passing? 4 coping mechanisms for negative news

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  • Remember this: you’re not alone.

    If, like the team here at Marie Claire UK, you felt deep sadness at the news of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, you’re not alone.

    Buckingham Palace announced that HRH Queen Elizabeth II had passed away last Thursday, 8th September.

    She was 96 years old.

    We’ve not only seen heartfelt tributes from her friends and family but from the rest of the world, too. One author, Matt Haig, described it poignantly in an Instagram post on Thursday evening: “It’s just sad, when you have grown up with someone, on the television, on the news, on postage stamps. Someone who you didn’t really know but kind of did. Because when you see someone’s face for long enough you kind of know them. It’s sad because she was as unifying a figure as a monarch could be. A generational bridge.”

    He went on: “It reminds us of the people we love who we feel like they too are as eternal as a postage stamp but who are, also, as fragile and mortal as humans are. My Nan loved her and she made her happy seeing her on her little old Hitachi telly even when my Nan was dying of cancer. She meant a lot to a lot of people. An era leaves us. Rest in peace.”

    Feeling a little out of sorts at the constant barrage of highly emotive and upsetting news? We’re with you on that. We’ve spoken to Gail Marra, clinical hypnotherapist and author of Health Wealth & Hypnosis, and Joanna Konstantopoulou, health psychologist and founder of Harley Street’s Health Psychology Clinic, to get their take on how best to cope – mentally and emotionally – with the current global events.

    Sad to hear of the passing of The Queen? 4 coping mechanisms for dealing with negative news

    Konstantopoulou shares that sometimes it can feel as though we’re seeing a constant barrage of negative news coverage – especially given the last few years. “From climate change to war, terrorism to major crime stories, media coverage can feel relentlessly gloomy and that can be incredibly distressing,” she explains.

    Find that the news often heightens your fear and anxiety? You’re far from alone, she continues – especially given the current situation. “Whether you feel that you’re regularly affected by the news or not, it can be upsetting to watch and read the current coverage,” she goes on.

    Do know that, as humans, we have what’s known as a “negativity bias”, which unfortunately means that we tend to be drawn towards negative and distressing news often without even realising it, explains Marra. “It’s good to be aware of current world events, but we can get sucked in to the negativity,” she explains. “It can become overwhelming and ultimately, make you feel totally powerless. Yet by default, you search for more of it.”

    While seeking out negative news may be a part of human nature, as with everything in life, the hypnotherapist explains that how you respond is key.

    When we react negatively to negative news – particularly dramatic news that threatens to affect us personally, like the Queen passing – we automatically go into fight or flight mode. “In this mode, we are on the defence, pumping out adrenaline and cortisol which raises our blood pressure, increasing our heart rate, which leaves us feeling confused, angry, stressed, anxious or afraid.”

    Bottom line: it’s okay to feel stressed right now, it’s okay to feel nervous, and it’s okay to feel anxious. We are facing unprecedented times, which will undoubtedley affect your day-to-day.

    There are, however, a number of coping strategies you can use to help protect your mental health, share both experts. “You may not be able to change the situation, but you can change the way you react to it with these simple steps,” shares Konstantopoulou.

    1. Help where you can

    Know this: You can’t the juggernaut of current affairs, but you can learn to live with bad news and make a difference where you can.

    “Small acts may not stop bad things from happening, but they certainly help, plus can assist you in feeling like you are helping the situation,” shares Konstantopoulou. Think laying flowers, sharing your thoughts online, or paying your respects in your own way.

    2. Talk to people

    A problem shared is a problem halved, and talking about your anxiety can help you work through the emotions and perhaps get a clearer perspective, shares the psychologist.

    “Other people may have a different take on a news story or the future outcome, and hearing their point of view could help you find a balanced perspective,” she shares.

    BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND -- SEPTEMBER 13: A portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II sits amongst floral tributes at Hillsborough Castle on September 13, 2022 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. King Charles III is visiting Northern Ireland for the first time since ascending the throne following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who died at Balmoral Castle on September 8, 2022. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

    3. Switch off

    One of the best coping strategies? Taking a break from the coverage.

    “Yes, it’s important to be informed about world events, but if it all becomes too much and is starting to damage your mental wellbeing, then taking a break from the coverage is key,” Konstantopoulou shares.

    Try this: Reset your social media feeds, avoid news websites and turn off the TV for a few hours in the evening. A break from the constant media coverage can give you the headspace you need, plus will allow you to take the information in, acknowledge your thoughts and feelings towards it, and then decide how to act on it.

    4. Decompress

    If you know that you have taken in the current news headlines and done everything you can to show your respects, know this: decompressing and making sure you are protecting your own mental health is one of the easiest ways you can help.

    “In therapy, I encourage clients to close their eyes and imagine their mind as a clear blue sky with the occasional white cloud passing through it,” shares Marra. “Breathe slowly and deeply as you visualise the clouds floating gently past until they fade and disappear. Spending a few moments every day practicing this simple method can work wonders in restoring calm and clearing your mind.”

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