By Marybeth Bock

It’s hard to stay away from the news these days. Even if you don’t watch any news on TV or read a newspaper, social media is now saturated with it. From Snapchat to IG to Twitter, you can’t escape current events, and over the past year we’ve all witnessed some chaotic events.

If a global pandemic wasn’t enough to contend with, we’ve been subjected to a lot of violence over the past year – from police brutality to widespread demonstrations to political rioting in our nation’s Capital. Seeing these images repeatedly can be challenging for teens and adults alike. Even if you don’t feel like it’s been that upsetting to watch them, they may start to affect your mental and emotional health over time by causing you to experience underlying anxiety or feelings of depression.

But there are some easy and effective ways to help you cope with seeing disturbing images and videos.

It’s important to remember to limit your time watching any content that makes you feel upset, even if you want to know what’s going on in the world. One of the great things about being a teen is that you may feel passionate about issues and want to help bring about change. Just don’t let that energy cause you to become overwhelmed.

Here are some things you can try:

  1. Name, Acknowledge, and Talk. If you’re feeling off or not your usual self, take the time to name what you’re feeling. Maybe it’s fear, sadness, or confusion. Whatever it is, once you’ve figured that out and put a name to it, it’s important to tell yourself that whatever you are feeling, it’s a normal response to what you’re seeing. If talking about the feelings with someone else will make you feel better, find a good listener. This can be a friend, a trusted adult, or a family member.
  1. Find a Soothing Activity. If you’re someone who takes time to process before they can talk about uncomfortable feelings, find another way to release those emotions. Helpful ways are listening to music, spending time with a pet, doing something creative like writing, painting, drawing, or crafting; or just sitting and taking some deep breaths in a quiet place for ten minutes a day.
  1. Take some Action. If the news you’re seeing is upsetting, there’s always something you can do about it. Write a letter to an elected official, find someplace to volunteer in your community or virtually, help someone in need. A parent or a teacher can assist you in finding out how you can make the world a better place.
  1. Ask for Help. If your feelings seem overwhelming or you don’t feel like you can shake off anxious or depressing thoughts after a couple weeks, reach out and find someone you trust to get you some professional help. You should never feel any shame in needing that because it’s a brave and strong move to ask for help.


Marybeth Bock, MPH, has logged time as an Army wife, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Phoenix and you can find her writing on multiple parenting sites.