Navigating Things Out of Your Control

Quite simply: it can be difficult processing a lot of the major news stories right now. In a world where news notifications flash on our phones a few times an hour and social media feeds and “for you” pages are either giving more details about said news or showing a constant stream of pessimistic memes, negative news is hard to avoid, especially for adolescents constantly connected online.

Throw all of this on top of life changes, transitions, and navigating one’s personal problems and issues day-by-day, it can be incredibly draining, and even triggering and debilitating to simply function, especially with mental illness.

“Focusing on what you can control” is advice easier said than done, and is often frequently given when people express feeling overwhelmed. In fact, it’s advice we’ve offered before too! And while this advice has shown to be useful, it can be hard to just consider organizing the chaos of news and personal issues that’s running through your head.

When everything seems to be going wrong – whether it’s to the world, happening in another country, to your friends, or just to you personally, our best advice is to zero in on much as possible to things that are mostly in control. For example, no one else likely uses your cell phone but you (and the same applies to devices like your laptop or tablet). You may report to a boss or have to follow teachers’ instructions, but if you feel that you can trust them or have a good relationship with them, you have some control (more than you may think!) to open up if you’re going through a difficult time.

Here are a couple of tips to get both yourself and your child started, even though you do not have to follow or limit yourself to these if they don’t fit your routine or personal approach to coping. We hope they can start off as a base however, and you can adjust them as you see fit.

  • Turn off ALL news notifications
  • Delete social media apps that are causing you stress off your phone temporarily – you can always log back in when you’re ready
  • Have your child use their support system – like group chats, DMs, or just anyone you enjoy texting with – as you see fit. You can vent about what’s upsetting you, or even just start and lead a conversation about anything else about whatever you like.
  • Set up boundaries with those you have a good relationship with. Don’t be afraid to ask them to not talk about certain topics if they get brought up (and remember they have every right to set boundaries too)
  • Remember that outside your day-to-day life and personal activities, you literally can do almost nothing and you shouldn’t feel guilty or pressured to do anything about it. However, you may find that researching and donating for issues (if you are able) can give you a sense of control.

How do you cope with negativity? Do you feel that bad news – whether it’s to you, someone else, or just in general – affects you severely? How about your child? What recommendations have you given them if they’ve expressed pessimistic behaviors?

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