Doom Fatigue: What to Do When All the News Is Bad

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Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted

If you’re like a lot of folks, you’re sick and tired of hearing about the economy, government overreach, and Americans hating other Americans. You may feel like every time you turn on the news (or read it online) you’re learning about some new horror headed our way. Maybe you wish you could just stick your fingers in your ears, close your eyes tightly, and chant “LA LA LA” at the top of your lungs to block it all out.

There’s a loosely coined name for this. It’s called “doom fatigue.”  Those of us who closely follow current events are the most susceptible to it. And it’s very real. These devices that keep us connected to a constant flow of information are great, but that same constant flow can also contribute to a state of overwhelm and mental exhaustion.

What is doom fatigue?

Doom fatigue refers to the feeling of overwhelm a person may get when faced with one negative event after another during a short period of time. When there’s a topic that is being constantly reported on, you can feel like a situation is even worse than it really is, simply because it’s always right there on the forefront of every website or news broadcast.

Some folks get so sick of it they refuse to read another word about it. They decide, “Forget it. I can’t take it anymore. If it kills me, it kills me” and go on their merry way.

That isn’t necessarily good either – the whole thing that keeps preppers prepared is our awareness of what’s going on in the world and how these events may affect our lives. So to completely write off something as dire as a possible deadly pandemic is as unwise as obsessing over it is.

What can you do to manage doom fatigue?

If current-event-related doom fatigue has got you feeling mentally battered and overwhelmed, the following suggestions may help you to get a handle on it while still remaining informed.

Pick your sources.  First things first, decide what sources you are going to trust for information. (Hopefully one of them is this website – go here to subscribe.) Choose 2-3 sources that you find relevant and trustworthy and stop scrolling through the entire internet or going to aggregate sites with headlines from dozens of websites. You don’t need to live, breathe, eat, and sleep the news.

Set a time to check the news. Another problem is when people search for updates all the live-long day. It’s exhausting, constantly checking for something new. I should know – I do this because it’s my job to do it and some days I just want to go live under a rock – preferably a rock with no wifi. So, decide you’re going to read the news for half an hour in the morning and half an hour after work. Set an alarm and stick to your decision. When your timer goes off, get away from the computer and do something else.

Focus on what you can do. With regard to world events, there’s only so much we can do. In part, this is because of our budgets – we can only spend so much money on preps – and part of it is because it’s simply out of our control. As Selco calls it, Big Circle, Small Circle. So focus on what you can do with your allotted money and the available information. Organize your preps, do an inventory, make a list of what you truly need, and add those items as you can.  (This interactive PDF, The Prepper’s Book of Lists, can help you get better organized.)

Avoid the comments section. For the love of all things cute and fluffy, avoid stepping into the comments section of any news piece you happen to read. In many of them, you’ll be besieged by laptop warriors who spew hatred and ill-conceived 30-second “solutions” for complicated issues. This is not productive. Some comments sections are more like online gauntlets than others. Some are actually helpful and full of good information. (Ahem, I’m looking at you, OP Readers!) If you do choose to interact, focus on those.

Your mental health and well-being are priorities. You don’t want to use up your reserves of resilience before the disaster even strikes your area – assuming it even does strike. The state of the world may or may not affect you directly, but either way, it doesn’t need to be your focus during every waking hour. Remember that stress weakens the immune system. If you live in a state of full-blown panic for a month before the real, hardcore crisis begins, you’re not going to be at your best when it does become an issue.

Nurture yourself. Without sounding all woo-woo mystical or like the type of person who thinks all things are solved with a good pedicure, you should still do things to nurture your own mental health. Maybe for you, that is a long walk in the woods, far away from any internet service. It could mean going outside and playing a game of tag with your children. Perhaps you enjoy crafting or woodwork or some other hobby where you get to indulge your creative side. Indulge in some entertainment like a good book or a movie on Amazon Prime. Whatever it is that makes you feel good and free from worry, be sure to spend some time doing that. It doesn’t mean you’re not focused on preparedness to do something enjoyable. (As I’ve written before, Fun is not the F-word.)

Stay healthy. Do everything you can to keep yourself healthy. Eat high-quality whole food, get some exercise, spend some time in meditation or prayer, and try to keep stress to a minimum. If you have a pre-existing condition, strive to get things under control to the best of your ability. Schedule doctor’s appointments now instead of putting them off. The healthier you are, the more your body will be able to fight off any threat you might come into contact with at some point in the future.

Driving yourself nuts isn’t productive.

If you find that just the mention of words like “economy” and “IRS” and “China” are enough to make you tense up and feel stressed out, then you may be dealing with some doom fatigue.  It isn’t a productive state to be in because by the time bad things start happening (if they do start happening), you’ll be completely out of energy to deal with them.

Do what you can and then let it go. We are all limited by something – budget, location, a spouse who is not on board, access to supplies, etc.

There really is only so much you can do to get prepared. When you’ve reached that point, whatever it may be for you, then you simply need to take a step back.

Trust me, it isn’t just you who is feeling overwhelmed.

There are lots of folks in your shoes.

24-7 doom isn’t productive. It’s exhausting and it is not mentally healthy. Take it from someone who delves into doom every day for a living. You have to learn to manage it. I wrote previously:

Sometimes I get emails from people who wonder how I can write about the things I do and still remain upbeat.

I’ve been working in the alternative news industry since 2011. There have been days at I time I was glued to my laptop covering manhunts, constitutional insults, or scenes of horror. It would be a lie (not to mention rather unhinged) to say that I was unmoved by it all.

Sometimes I ended the day with such awful scenes playing through my head that my night was filled with restless nightmares replaying all that I had learned. Sometimes the last thing I wanted to do the next morning when it was time to start work was switch on that laptop and see the most recent gruesome act of hatred humans had perpetrated on one another.

But here I am, eight years later, still doing it. Still trying to make sense of it all and write things that pull people together instead of tearing them apart. Still looking for that common thread that runs between us all and hoping that more people grab onto that instead of trying to sever it.

And most of the time, I’m okay. Most of the time, I can keep from becoming terribly depressed by the awful things about which I spend my days researching and writing. I can share with you a few of the ways that I prevent the bad news from causing so much anxiety that I want to throw my laptop in the lake and live out the rest of my days, blissfully uninformed. (source)

Change that to ten years later, and I’m still plugging.

And when I’m not okay? I give myself permission to take a step back. I do something enjoyable that is totally unrelated.  Getting away from the computer and the radio and the television is important. Nature nearly always helps.

How do you handle a doom overload?

How do you regroup when it’s all too much? How do you handle the barrage of horrible events? Share your secrets for preventing doom fatigue in the comments below.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • Great article Daisy. Confusing doom with gloom is counterproductive, and can lead us into personal SHTFs and self-fulfilling prophecies. Not everyone will make it through, but the world isn’t going to end.

    Right now it’s the shock of change stressing out everyone I guess. Being forced out of complacency, three decades of stability and comfort into austere and volatile reality will have many losing their minds. But people adapt eventually.

    We’ve lived through the hard 1980s and it was bad in many ways. But despite all the hardship and struggling everyday life was good. Prepare for the shock, but above all prepare to adapt. Take one day at a time, let it flow, and it’ll be fine.

    • Absolutely agree with you. Thanks Fabian and Daisy for talking so candidly about this. I am having some prepper fatigue and overwhelm as of late, worried about digital currency and a whole slew of other stuff. What I do to get outside this doom and gloom is to go in my garden or go read.

  • Early on in the pandemic I found myself suffering from doom syndrome. I could not even stand to hear the terms Covid, lockdown or mandate. Trudeau would come on TV, and the sight of his face or the sound of his voice would instill rage in me.

    So, I took a step back. I turned off the radio whenever they started talking about anything to do with the situation. Stopped watching television almost completely, absolutely no main stream news allowed.
    If people were listening to something or discussing something and I felt my rage rising, I politely excused myself and did something else.

    This went a long way but there was one problem. People. People would not shut up about it, would not stop texting me stuff, would not stop sending me videos and stories. I declared to some of my closest friends that my weekends were “Covid free zones”, and unless I was in eminent danger for some reason… They were not to speak to me on the weekends about that topic at all. My group of friends all started doing this… and we love it!

    Another good way that I find to relieve stress is physical training, particularly with weights. I like it because you have to concentrate on what you are doing… It’s not the same as charging along on a treadmill for an hour and thinking… I did not find that helpful. But when I am focussing on breathing, form, tempo and reps… I have to remain concentrating on that. And, it is improving my strength and my health… probably far more than any doctors visit.

  • Well, I am not like most folks, never have been accused of that.
    For the most part, the news is information being neither good nor bad (but not always). It just is.
    It is what we do or how we interpret that information and act on it that is important.
    Read the news and then ask yourself, “How can I act on this information to insulate myself or mitigate from upcoming changes?”
    Food inflation. Grow a larger garden. Buy in bulk. Cook using cheaper cuts of meat. Cook more from scratch.
    Fuel inflation. Change driving habits. Maximize every trip. Mow the lawn once every two weeks rather than weekly.
    Crime. Invest in security cameras, motion detectors, dogs, etc.

    These are just a few examples, but you get the over all idea.

    I do read the comments section, only to get an idea of what others are thinking, as to not stay in an echo chamber.
    Some are interesting. Some can be helpful.
    Others can be shocking, or even WTH are they thinking?
    Some are trolls, best to ignore and read on.

    • Excellent advise and a great perspective.
      Preppers and Survivalists should receive Doom and Gloom as old friends. If you did not believe them, you would not be Prepping or a Survivalist. You would either be a unprepared Sheep or a Fatalist that has no hope in surviving anything.
      Doom and Gloom shows you that you chose the correct path.

    • Truth, 1stMarineJarHead. I actually do NOT look at the news too often any more because both sides are full of it, panic porn. I am so tired of hearing this. I believe very little news

      • TexasAntigone,
        Agreed there is a degree of panic/fear porn.
        But there are things that are hard core facts that I look for that could impact me.
        The cost of fertilizer, the drought occurring in parts of the US, even flooding in other parts all things that are going to affect food prices later this year and into next year.
        Watching the CPI numbers, food bank usage, GDP reporting, companies layoffs or hiring freezes, all are Indicators and Warnings of economic contraction, recession or potentially depression.
        Watching the food and energy crisis globally, I do not think the US will be immune to it.
        I look at these things and others, prioritize, do the risk analysis, cost to benefit analysis, and prep accordingly.
        I try to look for those black swans or Murphy lurking that could put a kink in my plans.

    • Daisy says, “DON’T go into the comment section,” and here I am in the comment section.

      Couldn’t agree more with you post Bud. I guess my only addition is to add, “know when to say enough.” Once you have done what you can, to the best of your ability, and on your budget, know when to say enough. Not that we’re not always trying to improve, or add a something new, but there’s no use beating yourself up and falling into Doom Fatigue because you can’t afford that wiz-bang bunker, or you’ve only got 6 months of food and everyone else has a year or more. Remember to live your life along the way, not just jump from one crisis to the next.

      Personally, for me, part of the “fatigue” comes from being tired of saying, “I told you so.” It’s amazing how many people come up to you on a daily basis with a new “revelation” that you told them about 6 months ago – because we don’t just watch/listen to the news. We actually interpret the information, and look at what the effects might/will be.

      The other thing about “Doom Fatigue” is just how long this has taken, and is taking to manifest. I don’t know about all of you, but I always kind of looked at SHTF as a more condensed event, not drawn out over several years. EMP, CME, grid-down, or even nuclear war. Short term! Make the switch and adapt. This continual, gradual changing is sometimes difficult. To sum it up, “DAMN IT! I WAS PROMISED ZOMBIES!”

      • The Lone Canadian,
        Good point about when to say enough. Otherwise, spend your entire time spinning in circles trying to cover all disasters, from nuclear Armageddon to zombies.
        Improvise! Adapt! Overcome!
        Semper Gumby!

  • Sorry but the comment sections on news sites are usually much better than the articles. Those making the comments are for the most part regular patriots.

  • Life these days can most certainly be overwhelming.
    When I start feeling it getting under my skin, I grab the dog leash n go for a walk about or go to the dog park with a picnic.
    Listening to podcasts on prepping n herbal remedies/medicinals also help.
    On rainy days, I settle in with a book to learn something new or just escape.

    • K8,
      I gotta walk the dogs every day or they will eat the couch.
      Also, spending time out in the fields with the livestock can be a kind of escape. Granted, sometimes that is when I also do my best prepper thinking.
      Nothing wrong with curling up on the oversized chair with a good book in front of a fire.

      • 1stMarine/K8: A good book and some down time is essential to my mental health. Some down time period is needed occasionally. I actually just spent about two weeks helping a neighbour move bales. Haven’t spent that much time in a tractor in 20 years. I’d forgotten how good it feels to do the things that I grew up doing, although nowadays it’s a lot easier – I grew up throwing and stacking square bales. One thing I discovered (or maybe rediscovered) is that life at 10 mph in a tractor gives you lots of time to think, to reassess, and even reprioritize. We get so used to modern life, with everything moving at 100 mph. I miss life at 10 mph.

  • I selectively read the news, I never watch it. I pick and choose what’s relevant and I ignore most opinions. Save’s time and stress.

  • I almost always read all the comments on the OP, because nearly all of them are thoughtful and contributing. Mercola. com is another such. As Daisy points out, most other news sites are full of name-calling, trolls and unsupported claims. Don’t waste your time.

  • When I get overwhelmed, I will immerse myself in a good book. A little music and snack also helps.
    Otherwise a great anxiety/stress grounding exercise are the 5 Senses:
    5 things that you can SEE
    4 things that you can FEEL
    3 things that you can HEAR
    2 things that you can SMELL
    1 thing that you can TASTE

    It’s also an exercise in situational awareness in a way- so bonus!

  • My stress relief has been to watch YT Live Animal cams..nature, for me, is the best cure for the mind from all the daily stress..The stress of constant bad news is not good for us mentally or physically..Who needs that when I can watch wonderful animals on you tube live, 24/7…nothing like watching a herd of zebras at the waterhole!! Thank you for what you have brought to us all Daisy!

  • Try to pick the minimum number of news sites and read the minimum number of articles that you can so that you feel informed but aren’t going beyond what’s necessary. That should be the goal.

  • A good public library is a reasonable antidote to a lot of the pessimism that saturates today’s news.

  • Have you noticed that there isn’t much “news” on the weekends? It’s because the news manufacturers have the weekend off. So, maybe we should avoid all news for a couple of days in the middle of the week. I promise you that you won’t miss much because all is reported endlessly. And there is a big difference between “news” and “commentary “. Most of the reporters would have earned a big fat “F” from my old journalism teacher. The heat is so bad here that I leave the TV off most of the day to keep from making it worse. Be selective and remember that fantastic invention, the mute button. I can’t even stand the ridiculous commercials.

  • My antidote for doom overload is either to watch silly pet videos or go to a meme website like I Can Has Cheeseburger.
    Seeing something light that will make me laugh, if even for only a few minutes, is a great stress reliever, and it’s reassuring to know that in some small corner of the world life is normal and the biggest problem is that the cat destroyed the houseplants and pooped in the dirt scattered over and floor.

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