Coping with distressing news events

I've had a lot to do today, but I keep drifting back to the internet: scanning social media, reading think-pieces, looking for updates.

I can’t stop reading The News.

For me it’s the growing unease between the US and North Korea, but we’ve all had days when news events are hard to cope with.

A disaster or some other upsetting global event can dominate our thoughts and feelings, our private and public conversations, for at least a few days. And with 24/7 news just a click or tap away, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed.

So how do we cope with upsetting information in the news?

While everyone has their own ways of managing stressful news events, they tend to fall under three basic human needs: control, connection and comfort.


One of the most distressing aspects of a negative global event is that it’s out of our control. To restore your sense of control, you could:


Distress can be isolating — we can get wrapped up in our thoughts and feelings. To make and maintain meaningful connections:


It’s okay to need soothing, and to actively seek it out. To find calm:

Everyone needs to feel control, connection and comfort in the aftermath of shocking events. Find it for yourself and, if you can, offer it to the people around you.

Finally, if you’re still struggling to cope in the face of upsetting news events, or for any reason, reach out for help. There are crisis line numbers and links on this page.

Lifeline telephone counselling
13 11 14 (24 Hrs)
Suicide Call Back Service
1300 659 467 (24 Hrs)
Kids Helpline
1800 55 1800 (24 Hrs)
Blue Knot Foundation Helpline provides help, information, support or referral for adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse, their partners, family and friends, health professionals and anyone in the workplace working with people who have experienced childhood trauma and abuse.
1300 657 380 (9am-5pm AEST / 7 days a week)
SANE Australia
1800 187 263 (10am-10pm AEST / weekdays)