If you’re following the news, there’s a good chance recent headlines are causing you more stress than a comforting sense of being “in the know.” Whether it’s the divisiveness of this election season, the ongoing toll of the pandemic, or widespread stories of social unrest and inequality, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with anxiety over recent happenings in our world. Despite these troubling headlines, there’s promising news: By acknowledging, understanding, and actively managing our stress, we have the power to create more room in our minds for productivity and other enjoyable experiences.

On a recent episode of NPR’s LifeKit, I spoke with host TK Dutes, who was quick to share her own feelings of anxiety and worry as the election season comes to an end. When the news becomes too much to bear, TK says she disengages – opting instead for distractions like binge-watching a TV show or simply logging off her computer. But as she reflected on her own coping strategies, she posed an important question: How can we still stay informed without slipping into that too-familiar cycle of stress and worry? 

By first understanding the basic science of our minds, we can take steps to control the anxiety cycle. As you think about the triggers, behaviors, and results that align with stressors you often face, you’ll probably notice habits that lead to pretty unpleasant experiences and feelings. Yet by discovering these unrewarding habits and recognizing their triggers, we can replace them with bigger, better offers – or BBOs – that allow us to cope and focus energies on behaviors that truly serve our whole beings.

No matter how closely we study the news, we can’t predetermine events like the progression of the pandemic or outcomes of an election, but there’s one thing we can assure ourselves: optimizing our well-being and resiliency will enable us to best endure these events as they unfold. If you’re like TK and could use help coping amid the chaos, I encourage you to take a break from the headlines and press play