Supporting You this Summer: Stress, Sleep & Current Affairs

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Distressing news and "doom-scrolling" can have a major impact on your sleep.

There's been a lot of unsettling news lately which can affect many different parts of our lives, including our sleep. Ellie from Suffolk Mind has put together some information and tips about understanding these feelings and how you can improve your sleep during troubling times.

Distressing news can be a source of worry and concern. The conflict in Ukraine, the cost of living increase and other news stories can have an impact on our mental health. We might feel insecure or afraid if events are beyond our control.

Sometimes our worries in the present can cause us to become frightened about the future. We imagine that bad things will happen to ourselves and the people we love; this is called "catastrophising". The more this happens, the more likely it is that our sleep will be affected. This is because our brains use dream sleep (Rapid Eye Movement, also known as REM) to clear out the emotional charges of the day.

This means that the more that worries us, the more dreaming our brain needs to do. But this can leave us feeling more tired the next day because as we dream more, we get less deep regenerative sleep.

Here at Suffolk Mind we've been supporting more people recently who are worried by events in the news. If you're feeling concerned or anxious, try the following steps:

     - If you can, donate items to an organised collection for refugees or volunteer with local organisations supporting Ukrainians. By taking practical action, we can feel that we're helping to bring about change for the better.

     - Make a list of things you can control, like where you’re going to go for a walk today, what time you’ll make yourself something to eat, what colour socks you’re going to wear, and so on. Then, throughout the day, focus attention on the list of those things. This can also help us accept that there are things that we cannot control.

     - Avoid "doom-scrolling", which is the term psychologists use when we look for updates and find ourselves in a cycle of negative news stories. Without realising it, this can make our brains actually look out for more signs of danger. This can keep us in a constant state of worry, which can then tip us into anxiety and depression.

     - Practice "kind-scrolling" by searching for positive news stories which give us a more optimistic view of the world. Although the news might seem negative at times, there are still good things happening out there if we seek them out.

     - Limit the time spent reading the news to 10 minutes a day. This can enable you to gain some control over the situation.

     - After reading or watching a negative news story, take the time to do something relaxing, like breathing exercises or going for a walk in the park, or reading some fiction. In fact, scientists have shown that the more we move in the day, the better we sleep at night! This is because movement burns off the stress hormone, cortisol, which can in turn help us achieve better quality sleep.

For more tips on how to improve your sleep, take a look at this video from Suffolk Mind.

What if I feel more worried and anxious?

These steps are designed to help you improve your sleep and wellbeing, however, if you're finding yourself becoming more stessed or anxious and unable to cope with those feelings, or if you're worried about someone close to you, then you should speak to a GP or ring 111 as soon as possible. 

If you feel at risk, then it may be a mental health emergency. You can find further information about next steps from the mental health charity, Mind just here. 

Suffolk Mind & the East of Co-op in partnership for better mental health

The East of England Co-op works in partnership with Suffolk Mind to support mental health and wellbeing. Discover more about the amazing work of Suffolk Mind and our innovative partnership with them by visiting their website here.