How to Handle Bad News in 3 Steps

Whether it is through a phone call, text message, or social media, receiving unexpected bad news can come at us like a freight train.  Whether it’s a friend or family member who is sick or something more global like a natural disaster, it can be blindsiding. These moments of shock can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and even physical pain. Getting bad news is tough enough, let alone having to handle the stress of living with the news. This blog is meant to help you with how to process this information in a way that is helpful and not harmful.

It is important to acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay to feel upset, scared, or angry when you receive bad news. Recognizing and accepting your emotions can help you process them more effectively. Take a few deep breaths and try to relax your body. This will help your mind to slow down and process the information more easily. Try taking a break from social media and/or the news. It can be helpful to step away from the constant stream of information and give yourself some time to process what you have learned. Third, talk to someone you trust, like a therapist. This can help you to understand the situation better and to share your feelings about it. Lastly, be mindful of your boundaries. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into a situation that is too much for you to handle. Take care of yourself and set limits on how much you expose yourself to negative information., especially information outside of your sphere of influence.

If you tend to frequently be on the receiving end of bad news, it may be time to evaluate your boundaries with information and the level of access others have to you. You can do this by choosing what news sources you allow yourself to consume and limiting your exposure to social media. You can also set boundaries with the people in your real life, by choosing not to engage in gossip or negativity. Be mindful of the impact that bad news can have on your day-to-day life and take steps to protect yourself from being overwhelmed. It’s important to be informed, but it’s also important to know your limits. A helpful hint is to think about how you prefer to receive information. If doom scrolling is harmful, don’t do it.  If people text you bad news but a phone call would be better, let them know. We all have to deal with bad news from time to time, so being proactive can potentially decrease negative symptoms of shock and upset when receiving bad news.

By taking these steps, we can protect our mental health and keep bad news from taking over our lives. We all need to process bad news in our own way and set boundaries for ourselves. It’s okay to not be okay and to take some time for yourself after a traumatic event or series of events. Seek out professional help if you feel like you are struggling to cope with the news. At AMR Therapy, we specialize in helping people process difficult life experiences so they can move on and live their lives fully. If you or someone you know is struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.