Receiving bad news can really turn your world upside-down. You may be feeling tired, stressed or unable to cope as a result but it’s important to understand that everyone reacts to bad news differently and you aren’t alone in the way you feel.
Unfortunately, bad news is just part of life, we’ve all had it and we’re all going to undoubtedly get some in the future, but how you deal with it is up to you. Having an optimistic mindset can really help you to focus on the positives of the situation and free yourself from negative emotions.
Here’s how to handle bad news:
You’ve just received the bad news and now your stress level is through the roof, your heart is pounding, and you are on an emotional rollercoaster – it’s time to regain control over yourself so you can start dealing with the news.
Start by breathing deeply through your nose, hold it for a few seconds and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This helps to make you feel more relaxed, slow your heart rate back down to its normal pace, release the tension in your body and increase the oxygen flow to your brain. Do this for as long as you need to, or even pop on a quick guided meditation to help you out.
If you are feeling overly anxious or even on the verge of a panic attack, try this simple exercise to help you regain control:
Find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and one thing you can taste.
This helps to ground you in the current moment and forces your brain to focus on a real-life situation, rather than running off on a tangent with all the ‘what if’s’.
Now that you’ve created some breathing space and have gained a little more control over yourself, it’s time to put the news into context. However bad it may feel at the time, it’s probably not as bad as it seems.
Positive thinking can really make a huge difference here, so try thinking about all the good things in your life and all the good things yet to come. Even if the news is quite bad, you can still find things to be thankful for, such as your friends and family who will be able to support you though this tough time.
This technique is called cognitive reframing and the idea is to challenge you to highlight the positive side of the event, rather than just seeing the negative. For example, if your house got burgled – although it’s terrible, they only took things that are easily replaced, your family is safe, and you still have a home to keep you warm and safe at night. You still have your health, your job and money so you’ll be able to replace the things you’ve lost (plus you may have insurance to cover it anyway) so although you would understandably feel angry and perhaps even frightened, it’s not the end of the world, just a blip in the road.
If the news really is bad, you can still find ways to help you through this tough time.
Understanding what’s happening and why you feel the way you do can really help you manage your emotions and steer you in the right direction. Here are the 5 stages of grief and how to work through them
When we feel vulnerable, threatened or overwhelmed, there’s nothing more comforting than reaching out to your support network for advice, reassurance and perspective (or even just a hug).
It’s important to choose the right person; you’ll want to find comfort in someone you trust and who will be able to listen and offer you proper advice, not just making the situation worse by getting too involved.
Never be afraid to seek help from a professional such as a doctor or counsellor if you are really struggling and feel that you need some extra help. They are trained to help you overcome these challenges and it’s better to get the help you need than struggle on alone and make it worse.
Helping a friend with some bad news? Here are some counselling skills you can use now
Taking the time to care for your health is vital for dealing with bad news. Getting plenty of sleep and eating healthily can really help. Although it can be tempting to reach for the crisps and dip or a big chocolate bar, it’s not going to help in the long run and you’ll only feel worse afterwards. If you are craving a treat, keep it in moderation and just have a small piece of chocolate or try one of these super healthy treats
to satisfy your cravings. Stress can also diminish or increase your appetite, so make sure you are eating the correct amount of food you need to get through the day. Focus on eating three balanced meals a day packed with fruits, vegetables and protein.
Getting some exercise will also be super beneficial, even if it’s just a quick walk outside. Research shows that breaking into a bit of sweat each week can really boost your mental health and wellbeing. Read more about how fitness helps your wellbeing
Getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night is important too, but it’s not always easy when you have lots on your mind. Although you went to bed at a reasonable time, you may be laying there staring at the ceiling while your mind just goes over and over the bad news you’ve received.
We all know that sleep is vital for the body to repair, the mind to rest and for the tension in your body to ease, but it’s easier said than done if you are feeling stressed, anxious or upset.
Try these tips to help you nod off:
- Don’t consume any caffeine 2 hours before bed
- Have a warm bath with dim lighting to help you unwind
- Put down your phone at least 30 minutes before bed and leave it alone until the morning – the blue light rays within our tech device keeps the mind awake
- Make sure you are at a comfortable temperature - grab your favourite baggy jumper or warm dressing gown to keep you feeling cosy before going to sleep
- Try changing your bed so it’s fresh and comfortable when you get in
- Put on a relaxing piece of music and really focus on the music and melodies while you lay in bed to help you quiet your mind and still your thoughts
- Guided sleep meditation can really help you relax your body and mind, allowing you to drift off easier
Taking care of your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health. Understanding how your mind and body react to bad news and taking steps to manage your reaction can help to develop healthier responses to negative news in the future.
Here are some life coaching skills
that you can use right now to help you find a little mental peace and quiet.
If you are a naturally caring person that other people turn to in times of difficulty, it might be worth considering a career in social care.
Simply being there for someone, offering helpful advice and having a shoulder to lean on can make a real difference to someone going through a challenging time.
If you feel that you would like a career helping others, read this next.
Your journey to working in social care