If hearing about the woes of the world is bringing you down, try unplugging and putting yourself on a digital detox.

Q&A Ask a PsychologistShare on Pinterest
Illustration by Ruth Basagoitia

Q: I’m genuinely afraid of the future. I’m stressed out about the current events in the news, and what’s going to happen next in my life. What can I do to help myself enjoy the present more?

Consuming news today has become somewhat of a health hazard. For starters, it can heighten our worries about safety, which can spiral into full-blown anxiety, especially if you’ve experienced trauma in the past, such as an accident, illness, assault, or the loss of a family member. 

If hearing about the woes of the world is bringing you down, try unplugging and putting yourself on a ‘digital detox.’ This might mean curtailing time spent on social media or forgoing the evening news, at least for a while.

You can also anchor into the present by trying some wellness activities, such as yoga, meditation, or connecting (in-person) with a close friend.

You might also make a list of ‘joyful’ activities, which could include things like going for a hike, watching a funny movie, having coffee with a coworker, or reading a novel.

Similar to what you do when you’re starting any new habit, commit to doing 1 or 2 of your joyful activities several times each week. As you engage in each activity, pay close attention to how it makes you feel. What happens to your stress levels when you talk to a close friend? Do your future-oriented worries dissipate when you’re engrossed in a new novel?

If you’re still feeling distressed or if your anxiety is affecting your ability to sleep, eat, and function at work, consider talking to a psychotherapist. Generalized anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns, but with professional help, it’s entirely treatable. 

Juli Fraga lives in San Francisco with her husband, daughter, and two cats. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Real Simple, the Washington Post, NPR, the Science of Us, the Lily, and Vice. As a psychologist, she loves writing about mental health and wellness. When she’s not working, she enjoys bargain shopping, reading, and listening to live music. You can find her on Twitter