Using Poetry to Cope with News Anxiety
The past few months have been tough for the world—to say the least. From Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the IPCC’s devastating climate report, most of us are constantly inundated with triggering news. As human beings, we are simply not wired to effectively process enormous amounts of pain and worry, especially by consuming stories on social media daily, potentially for hours at a time. Although it’s important to educate ourselves and others on global news, it’s equally crucial to unplug and de-stress, allowing our nervous systems to relax.
Engaging our senses, through visual or auditory means, can help mindfully process anxiety. Reading, writing, and listening to poems provides a momentary escape from the outside world. Here are some tips for coping with news through poetry:
Before starting your day, instead of checking the news first thing, try reading a few poems from your favorite poetry book or scrolling through your favorite poet’s Instagram account. Although the platform can quickly become overwhelming during troubling world events, curating an account that only follows poets is an intentional and accessible way of consuming poetry. Instead of scrolling through and reading news stories, you’ll see grounding and inspiring messages. Follow @readpoetry__ to discover modern poets you connect with. This practice can also help set a positive tone for the rest of your day!
Research shows that one of the most effective practices of processing anxiety is to write. The act of placing emotions on paper allows us to feel less trapped, as if we’re transferring our feelings from our minds to the physical world, letting them go. Writing poetry about your feelings on the news, therefore, can help inspire calmness, relief, and hope. Also, consider posting your work on social media to find community by sharing your creativity. Creating something beautiful through pain helps us, and others, collectively heal.
Watching and Listening
If watching and listening to news stories is negatively impacting your mental health, take a break by searching for spoken word poetry playlists on YouTube. Listening to spoken word is like listening to music—a voice’s cadence helps bring poetry’s natural lyricism to life. Search for hopeful poetry to shift your emotional and mental states into a more positive direction. Button Poetry is a great place to start. With a variety of content featuring poets exploring different themes such as identity and mental health, watching or listening to others’ experiences can help you feel less isolated.
It’s important to critically understand the world around us—education is the first step to transforming society. Consuming news from reliable sources can help galvanize folks to create change in communities and potentially the world. But this shouldn’t come at the cost of mental health. Finding a balance between being informed and taking care of yourself is a process—hopefully, these tips on using poetry to cope with anxiety surrounding world events will help you along your journey.