In part one of this blog we discussed the concept of information overload and the stress that this non-stop diet of bad news can cause. What are the side effects of this kind of stress overload? How can we support ourselves and our families in the face of the never ending stream of information and media stimuli?
Long-term side effects
Various studies have examined the impact of media exposure on people following 9/11. In one such study, approximately 90% of the participants demonstrated symptoms of traumatic stress. In fact, the greater the exposure to media coverage, the greater the stress, and post-traumatic stress, exhibited by the participants. This is a normal response! Post-traumatic stress, or PTS, is the result of an individual’s response to a shocking and disturbing event, and is marked by chronic anxiety complemented by various physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.
Common symptoms of post-traumatic stress or PTS include:
Mental health first aid
Self-regulation is possibly the single best key to preserving our mental health and reducing our potential for developing PTS. As much as I am gripped by the plot on “Lost”, possibly consumed by what the next episode holds, I am mindful to pace myself lest I fall into the land of unhealthy obsession. Of course, “Lost” is fictional television without any real impact on the world at large, but the parallel here is that self-care, taking a mental break and turning off, is a healthy choice.
If you begin to recognize signs of stress or change in yourself, consider these opportunities for improving self-care:
We often feel powerless in the wake of tragedy. Taking action can help us feel more hopeful and that we can make a difference for others.
If you feel you’re past the point of overcoming your stress on your own, seek help. Contact your EAP provider or local counselling office.
For more articles on coping with trauma and stress, be sure to visit us at www.workhealthlife.com.