When we read or watch the news headlines, we feel that the world is under attack from everywhere, everybody and everything. It feels like a dangerous, negative world to live in.
Almost all of the stories are about war, world crises, epidemics, natural catastrophes, murders or horrible accidents where lots of people get killed, and, of course, politics and corruption …
Is there nothing at all happening that is good in this crazy world of ours? Why do the media concentrate on the bad things rather than the good?
Most news consumers probably know that the news these days is mostly dire and that staying informed about world events can leave us feeling pessimistic, hopeless and apathetic. The news is so bad that even the journalists who are covering the events are also becoming anxious and depressed.
It is normal to feel stressed about the world’s problems and be apprehensive in times of uncertainty.
Reality is really not that nice
We have terrorism, we have a slippery economy, we have war, we have world outbreaks of life-threatning illnesses … do we need more? Even if you have never experienced problems with stress, anxiety or depression, this current environment of extremely uncertain times could be your first time.
Stress, anxiety and depression can cause a lot of physical problems that are difficult to manage both by doctors and patients, as they do not seem to have a definite cause. Some quick examples are lack of energy, a whole array of digestive complaints starting with appetite changes, disturbed sleeping patterns and muscle tension, with the consequent aches and pains.
It is only normal to feel and react this way. You are not alone if you are having problems coping with the tensions resulting from the current world affairs. Do not panic! This is the last thing you should do.
Think rationally, arm yourself, defend yourself, fight back and you will survive with minimal or no wounds, and avoid feeling defeated by your own war. Take things into perspective, manage your exposure to news and your emotions, arm yourself with simple, correct, easy-to-use information. Think positive and … talk to your family doctor.
Worldwide health threats
Bioterrorism, epidemics and pandemics are fearful threats, many times connected, that have been scaring humanity throughout the centuries.
Health threats related to biological and chemical warfare are seen by any health professional as horrific. We certainly better accept, as unavoidable, the natural evolution related to new unknown illnesses.
If we go back into the chronological history of bioterrorism we find data from as early as the 6th Century B.C. when the Assyrians poisoned the wells of their enemies with rye ergot. From there, just name any of the most prominent countries in the world and the chance that they were involved with it, in some way, is very nearly 100%.
Records show that the variola virus was used as a weapon in 15th Century A.C. in South America, the plague in Europe in 1710 and smallpox in America in 1763.
Fear provokes a chain reaction in your whole body. It can only be controlled if you control fear. It is easy to get stuck replaying negative thoughts over and over in your head, so do not focus on events you cannot control before they happen! Make an effort and think positively. Your whole health will be thankful. After all, there is nothing new.
It is not all that bad
Let’s be realistic, is everything really that bad? Is it that nothing good is happening in this world of ours? The answer is undoubtedly ‘No, it is not all that bad’. Yes, a lot of good things are happening.
To counter bad news fatigue, some media outlets are turning their attention to the opposite of anxiety-inducing daily stories: positive news.
What we must realise is that, with the emergence of the internet, it is only in the last 10 years or so that the average person has really had unlimited access to news and information, and we are just more aware of world events than we have ever been in the past and … it may seem that more bad than good is happening.
With all that being said, the world is actually getting better, much better.
First of all, our health and medicine are improving at an extremely fast pace. Infant mortality is down about 50% since 1990, life expectancy has had a dramatic global increase and we have significantly reduced the number of deaths from treatable diseases.
The second indicator is the rapid decline in poverty worldwide. Since 1981, the proportion of people living under the poverty line has decreased by 65%.
The third indicator is violence. It may seem like the world is constantly embroiled in one conflict or another, but, overall, war is almost non-existent when compared to times in the past.
So when you feel like you’re getting down from watching, reading or listening to the news, just remember: despite all the depressing news, the world is not getting worse; we have reasons to believe that it is actually getting better.
Best healthy wishes,
Dr. Maria Alice
By Dr Maria Alice
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Dr Maria Alice is a consultant in General and Family Medicine. General Manager/Medical Director – Luzdoc International Medical Service / Medilagos. Medical Director – Grupo Hospital Particular do Algarve