Advance with MUSC Health

Mental Health Check: How to Cope with Current Events When Things Seem Out of Your Control

Advance With MUSC Health
June 21, 2022
Dr. Alyssa Rheingold

Managing your mental health can be overwhelming, especially when the fast-paced news cycle saturates social media feeds with one global, national, or local tragedy after another. From the war in Ukraine to tragedies resulting from heinous hate crimes, current events can leave many of us feeling defeated, depressed, and hopeless. So how do you cope when the cycle is relentless?

To check-in and make sure you’re taking care of yourself, we talked to Dr. Alyssa Rheingold about what to do when it all seems like a bit too much to handle. Here are a few things to do for your mental health.

  1. Acknowledge and validate your feelings. It’s OK to feel what you’re feeling. Create space in your day to sit in acknowledgment of those feelings, and remember that the practice of self-compassion is not a selfish action.
  2. Don’t isolate. Make sure you are still reaching out to others and staying connected with friends and family — your social support system. That’s something you can control. Checking in with them may be what they need, too.
  3. Do practical things every day — things to help in your local community. Whether that means intentionally giving to a reputable organization, being an ally to groups who are being oppressed or targeted, or volunteering your time as a local advocate, feelings of hopelessness can begin to dissipate when you take even the smallest action. Real change does start on your own front doorstep, not by doomscrolling social media all day and night. Embracing your community may also help any feelings of isolation.
  4. Limit your consumption of news. While it’s not recommended to bury your head in the sand, know that it’s OK to take breaks from the vicious cycle. Stay informed, but don’t let it overcome you.
  5. Speaking of stepping away from the news, be sure to stay engaged in basic self-care, which includes adequate sleep, a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and exposure to nature. Steps away from the news and into nourishing activities can help refresh you and give you perspective.
  6. Watch your unhealthy coping strategies, like drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol can lower your serotonin levels, which help regulate mood. When these chemicals reach lower levels, it can make a depressed person even more depressed.
  7. If you’re a leader, check in on your employees and ensure their needs are being met. Maybe they need some time off or to speak with a therapist. It’s important to acknowledge their pain and ensure that they feel seen and heard.

To speak with someone at MUSC Health about how to cope with distressing events in your life, make an appointment by calling 843-792-9162.