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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

How to manage the negativity

While driving and listening to NPR I was suddenly struck by the words that were jumping out at me: “chaos, pandemic, riots, burnout, death rates rising, persistent, Russian troops, political divide…” these descriptors are pervasive and rampant. I couldn’t help but wonder, what is this doing to my mental and physical state?

Years ago these words were saved for occasional use or far away countries, but now it literally in our hands, every day, for years. Historically, war and terror were reported events whereas now we can live-stream the unrest, we have notifications to capture real-time events, and scenes are played out as they unfold. The closeness of tragedy is difficult to ignore or protect ourselves from. Studies have found that many people suffered PTSD symptoms from just watching coverage of the 911 attacks or the Boston Marathon bombing.

Our walls of protection are thin and the effects are real. No longer can we create psychological distance and shield our hearts from the pervasive pain and suffering.

I am a positive person, not much gets me down but I admit, the constant barrage of negative chatter is wearing. While we are all wired to be aware and wish to be up to date on the news, this negativity has begun to have psychological effects on our everyday mindset. Anxiety, stress, and depression are rising simply because of the continual negative input. When confronted with danger or fear our bodies naturally release cortisol and adrenaline, digestion slows, and blood flows away from your heart to prepare your body to flee.

Imagine what this prolonged negativity is doing to our bodies.

Have you found that you see one negative article and then keep clicking to follow the trail? This is now coined “Doomscrolling”. We perpetuate the negative spiral and unconsciously infuse self-harm.

Research has shown that we are all affected differently, more trusting and optimistic people experience less fear while pessimists are more quickly affected. So what can we as leaders do to support ourselves and our team? Take control of what you can.

  • Bring awareness to the importance of boundaries.

  • Disable notifications

  • Surround yourself with positive people and ask to limit the COVID talk.

  • Create “no COVID/ negative” discussion areas.

  • Walk away if you are feeling tension.

  • Hold yourself accountable for entering into the downward spiral of the news feed.

  • Take a walk outside and enjoy the quiet of nature.

  • Consolidate your time watching news/ radio or reading the paper. Allow 1 hour in the afternoon only. Small bursts of continual negativity are very difficult to overcome.

  • Integrate intentionality. Bring awareness to all that is good. Whether it is a gratitude journal or a moment of reflection when you wake up and go to bed to recognize the wonderful people, actions, and events that have occurred.

  • Celebrate the wins. Small or big, take a moment to appreciate yourself or others’ greatness.

Finally, you are not alone. This is real and taking care of yourself is important. One thing that is for sure is that we are having a shared experience and you are not immune, using this as an opportunity to connect and create a community of support and positivity is vital for our mental health.

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