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When We Experience News Overwhelm

November 5, 2016 • Lisa Perry

We want to know what is going on in the world. We want to feel connected. So we turn to the television or our other devices to gather information and to hopefully feel a sense of connection. However, the news media tends to highlight all the “breaking” bad news. So what we wind up seeing is negativity and infighting instead. At this point we are experiencing news overwhelm.

I remember as a late teen/early adult when I was feeling news overwhelm. I remember really relating with the Jazz song Hot News Blues  (released in the late 1970’s) at the time. When alone, I used to sing this song heart-fully in my living room. As I was becoming more aware of the world around me, I felt it as a plea:

It can be painful to bear witness to what we see. We learn about so many problems and we can start to feel like our problems are unsolvable. We see human suffering, destruction, and unkindness. This can lead us to feel angry, depressed, anxious or helpless. We often don’t know what to do. But what can we do? How do we handle what we see? How do we even know what’s true or not? It’s a lot to sift through!

News Overwhelm and the Election

News overwhelm seems to be stoking tensions and provoking anxiety on a daily basis. We may discover that this chronic stress is affecting our personal health and our national health. Over this past year, in relation to the 2016 Election, there has been so much negativity and ugliness. Not only does this upset us individually, but it also compromises how we communicate with one another.

In a Rolling Stone article entitled The Age of Fear (Neil Strauss: Issue 1272), Jen Senko, a New York Filmmaker talks about how “all of these emotions, especially fear, whip people up into a state of alarm and they become angry and almost evangelical about what they believe. It’s like a disease infecting millions of people around the country.”

Relating to a prior Election Season, Norah Jones expressed her election anxiety so beautifully through her song “My Dear Country” (released in 2007):

News Overwhelm and Health

We all know that excessive stress literally impacts our health. Being flooded by constant negativity, worry and argument can lead to physical symptoms. Or worse yet, we might aggravate an existing medical condition. We might experience elevated blood pressure, stomach pains, bowel irritation, get an ulcer, lose our sex drive, lose sleep or lose our appetite. The list goes on.

If we think we don’t have any power over our own life, we might start to feel depressed. If our efforts seems futile, we can lose our motivation to get things done altogether.

Dealing with News Overwhelm

Of course, the goal is not to ignore reality. It is important for us to be aware of our surroundings and our place within the world. However, we must be able to take a step back in order to gain perspective. If we actually want to address issues and make better decisions, we need to have a clear head and a calm body. The truth is, there are some things we can do:

1. Notice where you are placing your energy

We can spend an awful lot of time and energy simply fretting or venting. However, If we choose to, we can pause long enough to observe how our actions are impacting us. If we can check in with ourselves, we might discover which actions help us feel more empowered. We may notice how our choices impact our level of energy and sense of enthusiasm. We can reflect upon whether or not our actions are of benefit the very causes that concern us.

When we believe we have a voice, when we perceive we are making a difference, then this can lead to more positive feelings. If we are dealing with something that we believe we cannot change, perhaps then we can start by trying to understand it better.  Maybe this will lead to a more productive idea for impact over time.

2. See if you can take a piece and chew

After taking a step back, consider what is most important to you. Ask yourself if your behaviors are in alignment with your own values. When you reflect upon your own actions (or lack thereof) see if you feel a sense of meaning and self-respect. On the other hand, gently note if you are experiencing guilt, frustration or shame instead. After taking this kind of inventory, you can tweak things perhaps so that you may take some kind of action that does align with your own values.

While you reflect upon what part you want to play, be sure to also include your interests and what you enjoy to do. There are all kinds of people in the world. We all have unique talents and perspectives. Consider your unique skill set and how the world may benefit from them.

3. Create and Express

If you find ways to release some of the negative energy, you might experience inspiration instead. Perhaps you can meditate, practice mindful breathing, take a walk outside or just do something fun. If you observe your thoughts, you might notice the impact of your thoughts upon your moods, your physical well-being and your relationships. Just taking a break sometimes can help you to come back to the matter with a fresh perspective.

Never underestimate the power and impact of sharing your unique perspective with the world. This can be done through the arts or through some kind of craft. Brainstorming can lead to new ideas which then lead to new solutions. Fiddling can lead to innovation. One act of creation can create ripples.

4. Interact with others from a place of Compassion

Our emotions can start to impact how we communicate with our fellow human beings. Unfortunately, we can forget how to listen. Sometimes we can become intolerant and unkind. At times, we can get tunnel vision.  It is easy these days to spend hours watching the news (or scrolling through Facebook) only to get “confirmation” and validation of our original biases. Often we wind up only interacting with others who already agree with us.

If we are more mindful, perhaps our interactions can help us feel more connected to one another. We can boost our connections by  practicing active listening. When we talk less, we can learn something new. We may take note if we are repeating the words of others without having actually done the necessary investigation or self-reflection. We can grow ourselves, as we strive to see the world through the eyes of another.

If you feel overwhelmed by the news lately, and need a place to regain your balance, please contact me!

LLisa T Perry Counseling in Ashvilleisa T Perry, MEd, LPC, CCMHC, VMT-R is a Licensed Professional Counselor who blends therapeutic strategies to help people manage overwhelm.

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Dylan, Identity and Personal Expression

October 14, 2016 • Lisa Perry

Identity is fluid. We can continuously reinvent ourselves through Personal expression. Culture continuously evolves and so do we. The world around us never stays still and we change right alongside it.

Worldwide Recognition for Personal Expression

Yesterday, The Swedish Academy in Stockholm awarded Bob Dylan the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, said: “If you look back, far back, 2,500 years or so, you discover Homer and Sappho and they wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to, that were meant to be performed, often with instruments — and it’s the same way with Bob Dylan.” She also said: “for 54 years now he has been at it – and reinventing himself constantly… reinventing himself…creating a new identity.”

We Continuously Reinvent Our Identity

Have you ever tried to look back to capture how you perceived something in your past? Have you ever noticed how the way you think today has changed from the way you thought about things in the past? Isn’t that only to be expected? Isn’t that only natural? But how do we deal with these changes? Do we accept them as natural or do we defend ourselves against change?

Personal Expression Can Be Private or Public

I don’t expect to win a Nobel Prize anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t or shouldn’t express myself. I can do so privately or I can express myself more publicly. There are platforms and means either way.

One can write in his journal for no one else to view. One can sing in the privacy of their own home for no one else to hear. However, these days, one can also easily post a video for all to see on YouTube or collaborate with others on a platform such as

Personal Expression and Mental Health

Self-expression can be really healthy for the heart, mind and soul. Writing can help me clarify what is in my mind or what is in my heart. A creative outlet can transform something that feels heavy, ugly or dark into something of meaning or beauty. Self-Expression shared more publicly could potentially be of benefit to others. It could be validating, soothing or meaningful in some way to take in another person’s expressions.

Personal Expression Doesn’t Require Talent

David C Ward of wrote: “Dylan proved that you could be a great singer without being able to sing”. You don’t have to have a “good” voice to sing. What is a good voice anyhow? Expressing your truth and your heart is what matters. Finding ways to relate to ourselves and others is what matters. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no?

You Can Express Yourself

Expression can come in many forms. You can dance. You can write. You can draw. You can garden. You can do crafts. You can play the Kazoo. You can pray. You can chant. You can run. You can jump. You can play a sport. The list goes on and on and on.

Having Fun and Socializing with Self Expression

Recently I discovered and learned that I can collaborate with others anywhere in the world without having to travel. I heard that someone participated in a collaboration by uploading of video of themselves simply knitting! How funny is that?!!

So, “to put my money where my mouth is”, I uploaded a personal example for this blog!


LLisa T Perry Counseling in Ashvilleisa T Perry, MEd, LPC, CCMHC, VMT-R is a Licensed Professional Counselor who loves to facilitate growth through personal expression.

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Managing Emotions and Storms

September 23, 2016 • Lisa Perry

Sometimes emotions can come on hard and fast. It can take a lot to just merely hold on. Have you ever felt like managing emotions can sometimes feel like living through a storm? I was thinking about that today. Would you believe I discovered that Tropical Storm Lisa (my name) developed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean this very morning? Funny!

Emotions are like Storms

In many ways emotions are like storms. Neither emotions nor storms will be denied. Emotions and storms are both forces of nature. However, we can do our best to prepare ourselves for the inevitable.

Storms, emotions, and Intensity

Storms, likes emotions, vary in intensity. As it turns out, Tropical Storm Lisa is actually a “weak” system. Emotional storms can also be powerful or mild. For instance, anger can range from mild irritation to rage. Anxiety can range from feeling a little on-guard to full blown Panic.

Emotions, storms and Beauty

If you are viewing a storm from a safe place, you might be able to appreciate it’s beauty. The rush of the wind and the sound of the rain can be exhilarating. The display of colors can be magnificent!


Experienced through the safe container of art, we can be moved by the beauty of exquisite emotions. Drama can deeply stir our souls. Dancing can lead to ecstasy. Music can open up our tender heart. Dream images can be woven into a quilt. Deep longing can be expressed through poetry.

Managing emotions, storms and Time

Emotions, like storms, pass on their own time schedule. You can’t hurry a storm. You can’t rush grief. You can’t hold onto a wave.  You can’t control the passing undulations of joy.

Emotions and Storms deserve your respect

As potentially powerful forces of nature, emotions (like storms) deserve our respect. If we try to ignore them, they will not just go away. Will can be overcome if we don’t prepare ourselves for them properly. If we bottle our emotions, they will only become stronger.  Mismanagement of emotions can lead to violence, destruction or depression. Repressing our emotions will only serve to limit joy, passion and contentedness.

Managing Emotions: the storm of fear

Sometimes poems, like prayers, can be invoked as a powerful tool for facing and living through fear storms. For example, I have found A litany Against Fear written by Frank Herbert (Dune)  to be a life saver. The litany reads as follows:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

What do you use to make it through your emotional storms? Do you believe you can grow in the face of emotional overwhelm?


LLisa T Perry Counseling in Ashvilleisa T Perry, MEd, LPC, CCMHC, VMT-R is a Licensed Professional Counselor who would love to help you manage your emotional storms or transform them into something meaningful and beautiful.

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July 15, 2016 • Lisa Perry

Welcome to my new blog/Articles page.

This page opens a doorway to articles I have written. Topics may vary some, but all articles will relate to mental health and wellness issues. 

Posts can be found by clicking on any of the images on the picture carousel on this page.

If you would like to speak with me directly, or schedule an appointment for counseling, you can contact me by phone 828-575-3073 or via my secure contact form Click Here


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