One Hidden Key to Lessening Your Anxiety and Depression

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In 1995 I had my last panic attack. I suffered from anxiety which would lead to panic attacks. I also went through long periods of depression. I found the rigors of raising a family, and being the wife to a dedicated minister to a large church very challenging. I ended up going into therapy and uncovered some past issues that were interfering with my present life. I made some lifestyle changes that improved my life tremendously, one thing was to become more assertive and speak up for my needs and opinions. Taking a stand for myself was a great booster for my self-esteem. But what really helped to lessen my anxiety and depression was this one key life change –

I stopped watching the news! Here is why I stopped watching the news.

We already know what the news is going to be.- BAD! It’s always bad news! Do you remember Evilene in “The Wiz”, she said, “Don’t nobody bring me no bad news”. I agree with that. As we sit and hear one tragic event after another, how can you feel calm and good. The news is not usually fiction – these are lives of real people that these terrible things are happening to. When you are a caring person you can become compassionate for the whole world. We can get Compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is a real mental health diagnosis. Wikipeadia defines it as follows:

“Compassion fatigue, also known as a Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a term that refers to a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is common among victims of trauma and individuals that work directly with victims of trauma. It was first diagnosed in nurses in the 1950’s. Suffers can exhibit several symptoms including hopelessness, a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, and a pervasive negative attitude. This can have detrimental effects on individuals, both professionally and personally, including a decrease in productivity, the inability to focus, and the development of new feelings of incompetency and self-doubt.”

The media has been blamed for causing wide spread compassion fatigue in society. Proponents argue that the media’s saturation of images and stories of suffering have caused the public to become cynical, or become resistant to helping. They cite preliminary scientific research which is showing that visual images affect brain activity in demonstrable and measurable ways.

You might ask, “How I get news? You need to know what’s going on the world around you.” I’m glad you asked. I see the headlines when I open my email at Yahoo or MSN. I choose to look at video or link to get the full story if I decide to do so. I still am informed but not overwhelmed! I refuse to sit for hours on end watching and letting all that bad, negative, morbid crap inundate my brain.

During the political campaign is yet another opportunity to overdose on information. Now that there is 24-hour t.v. – it can be repeated all day and all night. I remember when the broadcasting ended at midnight. There was a target looking circle on the television screen and long beep sounding like a flat lining life support machine. That would signal the close of the day. All of that came after the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. The day actually ended. Now in the 21st Century we have to regulate when our days begin and end and the quality of the life we live in those waking hours. We have many things we cannot control but we can control how much bad news infiltrates our minds and spirits.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.

Whenever you take something away, replace it with something better.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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