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Bad News Overload


It seems that the only news these days is bad news. This can negatively impact our mental health and cause us increased anxiety and stress. How can we deal with such an overload of bad news?

It is hard to get away from bad news, news sites, papers and your social feeds are probably full of tragic stories about a looming 5th wave of Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, floods in KZN, increasing cost of living, effects of climate change, crime and more.

While it is true that these things are happening right now, and are therefore featured in the news, we are left with little time to process information about one disaster before we read about the next. Receiving such a constant flow of negative and scary information can be hard to deal with.

They say that the increased detailed reporting on wars (in distant lands) can make it feel like the war is happening around you.

We may be exposed to pictures or videos of events unfolding in real-time. This stimulates the ‘fight or flight’ part of our brains and our bodies can actually physically react, producing certain chemicals. This can lead to mental and physical fatigue, as if we, personally, are trapped in that situation.


It is not your imagination, things are very bad right now…perhaps worse in the last 100 years than they have ever been. As a species, we are in serious trouble, that’s why things seem so extreme.

Not to dwell further on these negative things, but more people die in South Africa during crimes every day than in most warzones. Crime has become a normal part of daily life for hundreds of thousands of South Africans. Xenophobia is creating a new apartheid mentality across the country, and people everywhere (not just SA) are protesting. They are unsatisfied with the way things are being handled by governments worldwide (even the very stable ones).

We all know bad news sells better than good news. A sense of dread and horror-fascination will have people clicking additional links and turning pages more often than some feel-good story. More page views mean more ad sales and so, news outlets tend to primarily feature bad news.


We are exposed to so much bad news and are already anxious about those matters that when stresses and setbacks come along in our own lives (at work or home), they can hit us harder than normal.

We all face challenges in our daily life, they are unavoidable. It might be the huge weight of debt sitting on your shoulders, health issues or an overwhelming and unrealistic workload.

To try and take a break from such concerns, we might decide to watch a movie or check the news only to then be hit by reports of wars or warnings of massive price increases. Our TV shows may centre on murder, war or social conflict (Hollywood often mirrors what’s happening in society). Instead of giving our brains the break we need, we may be diving deeper into negative influences.

So, how can we deal with all this negativity and bad news?


If you are drowning in a sea of bad news, then it is time to limit your negativity intake.

Maybe monitor how often you check negative news feeds. We do need to stay informed, but how often and in how much detail?

Turning off the constant tap of bad news can offer us some respite.


Once you have limited how much bad news you are receiving, then you can turn on the tap of positivity.

Instead of thinking about all the bad things that might happen, why not spend some time thinking about all the good things and people you have in your life?

Good friends, good food, a beautiful day, and some nice surrounding. These are all things that can remind us of the good in the world around us.


A regular routine that includes getting enough sleep at regular times, eating meals and handling needed chores can help your brain feel relaxed and refreshed.

Getting stuff done, rather than procrastinating also provides a sense of accomplishment that is good for you.


Lockdown forced us all to isolate and avoid other people. Many of us are still avoiding others due to our fear of infection.

That’s natural and logical but isolation can lead us to be more self-focused than normal. This can leave us with way too much time to focus on our own problems. This could make us blow our problems out of proportion –a typical ‘mountain out of a molehill’ situation.

Shifting focus to helping others around us, maybe in our family, friends or community, can get us out of this selfish and negative mindset and allow us to expand our horizons.

Furthermore, helping others releases feel-good chemicals in our brain that promotes positive feelings and less worry.


Getting regular exercise can also help us feel better.

Eating healthy and taking care of our physical health will have long-lasting benefits, and can make us feel better right now. Most of us are still dealing with our extra lock-down weight (thanks Covid, now I need to go buy bigger clothes).

Including some appropriate physical activity in our routine can help us a lot. We look and feel better, we accomplish a short-term goal every time we workout or go for a walk (or run) which gives us a sense of

But please give it a few months before you start buying shirts with cut-off sleeves just to show off your “guns”.


Getting enough sleep can really assist us to cope with our stress.

Lack of sleep reduces our ability to deal with pressure and kills our ability to concentrate when needed. So, make sure you get enough rest.

If you struggle to sleep, then you should try to set a realistic time to regularly go to bed and wake up, and try stick to it. Over time this pattern will help prepare your body and mind for sleep.

Avoid TV watching or social media surfing in bed just before you go to sleep (you know you do…). Those bright stimulating screens are not conducive to falling asleep.

Avoid big meals, alcohol and caffeine just before bedtime, they don’t help you get a long restful sleep.


These days, unfortunately, nobody can say their job is 100% safe. So, how can we deal with anxiety about job security?

Maintain a good attitude about your job, even if it isn’t your “dream job”. Consider the benefits you do get from your job (like a salary that pays most of your bills).

Be a good employee; arrive on time, leave on time. Earn your salary by giving your employer value for money. Be industrious and reliable. Even if you do lose your employment due to factors beyond your control, you can then be assured of positive recommendations for you next job application.


Like ‘bad news overload’ we can have an overload of things that stress us out every day. We can normally deal with some stress, but not too much.

Can you take action to reduce some of the causes of your stress?

Could you reduce the time you spend with negative people?

Could you adjust your routines or living situation to reduce stress?

Often money matters are some of our biggest causes of anxiety. If you need advice on how to get the most out of the money you do earn each month, then talk to a Debt Counsellor about budgeting and debt. They can help you take positive steps to effectually manage your finances.


If you have been paying off your debt, then you will know that positive change takes real effort & time.

Worldwide, it is true that big changes are needed on almost every level of society to deal with what is happening. Sometimes people only react when things directly impact on them. The long-standing social structures that are in place, often feel threatened by change, and so they try carry on as normal, for as long as possible to avoid discomfort or financial cost. This is often why it is the younger generation that rebel against the status quo.

These days it seems half the rich people want to disappear into a virtual world or jet off into space to get away from our problems. We may also not know what to do.

It is important for us to consider what we have direct control over, and what we don’t. Can we improve things among our family, friends, colleagues or community?

You may not be able to control fire tornados in Australia, but perhaps you can help a family member deal with a crisis, or provide needed support to those less fortunate or struck by disaster.

Do what you can.


If you have been feeling tired and worn down by all the bad news around us, then it is time to make a change.

Stress is unavoidable, but not always a bad thing. Our brains are built to handle stress, but we need to avoid being overwhelmed.

Try to reduce the amount of negative news you get each day while increasing the focus on the positive things in your life. Eat healthily, get enough suitable exercise and rest to help you feel better.

Find ways to reduce your stress by taking action rather than procrastinating (like by entering debt review if you are overwhelmed by debt stress). Focus on what you can change in your life, and immediately around you. Shift the focus off your own problems and try to help others, and have a positive impact on your family, friends and community.

It’s time to say “No” to bad news overload.


Be careful if another person calls and says they can suddenly reduce your monthly debt review repayment amount. Many scams start that way. Rather talk to your own Debt Counsellor.