How to make bad news feel better

Bad news can come in a variety of forms, from job loss, a relationship breakup, a surprising diagnosis, or even to the death of a loved one. Receiving bad news can affect your body and life in a multitude of ways, even triggering your fight or flight response. According to Medical News Today, “everyone responds to tension and trauma differently, but know that steps can be taken to tackle the mountain ahead, deal with the bad news, adopt coping mechanisms, and make the situation less traumatic.”1

Medical News Today put together 5 tips on how to cope with bad news:

  1. Accept your negative emotion
    Research conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, found that attempting to avoid negative emotions can actually cause more stress than confronting your emotions head-on. The natural inclination to push negative emotions aside may actually be doing more harm than good for you in the long run.

  2. Repeat exposure to the news
    Similar to point number one, accepting or repeatedly exposing yourself to the bad news has been found to be more helpful than trying to avoid confronting the bad event or news. Tel Aviv University in Israel found that exposing yourself to the negative event may help decrease the physical side effects of bad news, including tension in the shoulders and chest, distracted thinking, chronic stress, and digestive issues.

  3. Reframe your thoughts
    Now that you have accepted your emotions and exposed yourself to the negative event, it is time to get to thinking. Florin Dolcos, a member of the Cognitive Neuroscience Group at the University of IL, explained that “dwelling on how hurt, sad, or embarrassed you felt during an adverse event can result in you feeling worse.”1 Focusing on other memories surrounding the negative event can help you move on from it and gain perspective.

  4. Learn to overcome adversity
    Almost everyone deals with setbacks at some point in their life. It is important to continue moving forward. Acquiring resilience and dealing with adversity can be learned behaviors; classes are available to those looking to go down a new path and numerous resources are available to assist in these difficulties mentally. Finding a local therapist near you is easy when visiting Psychology Today and selecting your City/County and any insurance coverage you may have.

  5. Be kind to yourself
    When faced with bad news, one of the most important things to focus on is your own physical and mental health. Consider trying mindfulness meditation or booking a soothing spa or massage appointment for yourself.

Do not be afraid to reach out to friends and family as well when these events arise. If you are in a crisis and in danger of hurting yourself, call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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