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How to maintain a sense of well-being and agency in an era of ‘bad news’ Ho, boy! Those news headlines can look pretty glum, can’t they!

 

History shows that humanity’s greatest leaps forward have always come in times of challenge and upheaval. And right now, as we deal with almost unprecedented turbulence – global pandemic, political tribalism, unending wars, climate uncertainty – it certainly seems that humans are doing what we often do … creating the crises that will propel us toward evolutionary change.

Even if things look particularly grim, there are things we can each do — as individuals or as part of a larger community — to accept the vital lessons inherent in these testing times, and to innovate, evolve and create our way into a healthier, more beneficial relationship with others, ourselves and the Earth we depend upon.

One of the greatest challenges we face to this committed evolution of ideas, is the diet of helplessness and despair we ingest through our televisions, news feeds and social media connections. In 1977, media and communications scholar, Grace F. Levine revealed that 71% of the nightly news contained elements of hopelessness. Historical trends imply that the level of hopelessness we absorb through today’s headlines is probably a lot higher.

What this ensures is that — instead of a sense of righteous anger, determination and desire for affirmative action — many of us are left feeling overwhelmed, numb, under-resourced and/or unable to affect change.

The good news is that there are ways we can counteract the scourge of learned helplessness. With a conscious commitment and a little effort, there are simple steps you can take to ensure your well-being, and engage your sense of agency in this time of painful ‘evolution’:

 

Take constructive action 

It feels empowering when we recognise and utilise our sense of agency, so don’t despair over what you can’t do … do whatever you can, whether that be donating, volunteering, or taking some form of supportive action in an area that you feel strongly about.

 

Be mindful of your information diet

We are biologically wired to focus on negative information, so take conscious steps to balance upsetting headlines with more positive news. Actively seek out publications and people that share uplifting and inspiring content.

The important thing here is not to drown out the reality of the world in favour of a forced positive outlook — that would be detrimental to your well-being. What is healthy, is to accept that you are biologically wired with a ‘negativity bias’ and to balance that instinctive focus with stories that offer ideas, solutions and positive perspectives on world events. Importantly, it’s also okay to...

 

‘Switch off’

Give yourself permission, at times, to turn off the online chatter and the 24 hour headlines. Use that time to get out into nature — take your shoes off and feel the Earth! — and seek out authentic social connections (even if you can only do so online) with people who leave you feeling good. Finally…

 

Use this time to re-evaluate the role you play in creating your society

The world is a smaller place than we realise and our individual approach to life cascades through our social circles, like ripples, to have far-reaching consequences. What kind of world do you want to help create? What are the values you hold dearest? Know these values, and consciously choose to amplify them — to the best of your ability — into the world around you.

Vitally, if you are feeling an acute sense of despair or helplessness, please seek out the support of a trusted healthcare professional. You are precious, and you deserve to enjoy happiness and emotional well-being.

 

About the Author

Kim Forrester is a mother, nature lover, holistic wellbeing advocate and kindness enthusiast. As an award-winning author, educator and consultant, she combines cutting edge science with spiritual philosophy to inspire holistic wellbeing and fullness of living. Born in New Zealand, Kim has lived in several countries - now in Singapore.

Looking for some drops of goodness in your day? Visit www.kimforrester.net for a range of courses, content and consultations that will help you thrive in life. Plus, check out the Eudaemonia podcast on your favourite podcast app for thought-provoking conversations about the traits and practices that can inspire you to flourish.

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How to maintain a sense of well-being and agency in an era of ‘bad news’ Ho, boy! Those news headlines can look pretty glum, can’t they!
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