It feels like every time you turn around these days, there’s more bad news. More and more I find myself flinching while reading the paper, pulling faces when I’m scrolling on social media and heaving sighs at the TV as the anchors read out their long lists of dreadful headlines.

From the protestors in Hong Kong fighting for their right to freedom at great cost, to the other side of the world where immigrant families are being ripped apart and held in cages, in the so called “Land of the Free”. The stories of senseless violence that take place the world over, from mass shootings in the USA, to stories of animal cruelty and of thoughtless, unprovoked attacks on innocent bystanders. The climate crisis and the burning of the Amazon Rainforest to make space for livestock, destroying the very plants that give us the oxygen we breathe, all in the quest for burgers. The famine in Yemen, affecting over ten million suffering children. Closer to home, sex abuse that’s been buried and hidden away for years, working its way into the very fabric of our institutions and the whole of society, leaving so many innocent lives scarred in its wake. And amongst the Brexit debate, with austerity rife, many of our vital services are on their knees, and even whilst bombs are exploding at the border, there is still seemingly no leadership of any shape or form in sight.

And in the middle of it all, Trump’s trying to buy Greenland. Could things be any more disillusioning? It sometimes feels like we’re all shouting into the void, and nobody is listening. We live in a supposed democracy, where the people have the power. So why do I feel so powerless to change anything?

It’s not just the manmade destruction of the world that leaves me feeling drained and defeated. Tragedies of all shapes and sizes are a dime a dozen on social media and television, stories of innocent people who happened to get sick, who have lost somebody they loved, or have been caught up in a freak, tragic accident. Folks who were doing everything right and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the folks who are left behind after the fact, piecing what they can of their lives back together.

I have found myself becoming increasingly affected by the horrors and heartbreak of the world around us. I’m sure many others experience the same – the ache inside when you read a sad story and your heart bleeds for the poor souls involved. Admittedly, I may be personally more prone to absorbing the negativity of the news than others, being, frankly, a bit too soft and sensitive at times. I find that I’m a bit cursed by an overabundance of empathy in my personality. As a result, my nerves often feel like sponges, soaking up every horrifying, haunting detail of the Bad News. I imagine myself firmly in the shoes of the affected people, and often end up close to tears.

For most of us, it feels impossible to process the pain, horror and hatred that exist in the world, and even more unthinkable to comprehend how so much of it is caused by other human beings. I find myself thinking, why can’t they feel the pain of others, of hurt and of loss, as acutely as I can?

The affects of the news on our mood and mental health have been studied, with research finding that almost 50% of people feel stressed, with many experiencing anxiety, fatigue and even loss of sleep, as a result of keeping up with the news. In the same breath, research also shows that almost a fifth of us monitor our social media feeds near constantly. We might put two and two together and realise that this is a recipe for disaster. We might also wonder, could this added layer of anxiety and stress that we’re exposed to in our everyday lives perhaps be contributing to the awful mental ill health epidemic...that we keep hearing about on the news?

Maybe the world has truly descended into lawlessness, and we’re living in the worst age in history. Or perhaps, and more than likely so, we’re just living at a time when access to information is instant. We can read and hear and watch the news anytime, anywhere – we could ingest it twenty four hours a day if we so wished. We can go online and watch a video about the sad story of an ordinary person who is just like us, but on the other side of the planet, whom we would never otherwise know or meet. We can even allow notifications from the news apps on our phones so that we’re alerted every time something else bad happens.

The truth is, every generation has probably felt like the world was ending around them. Our own not too distant relations lived through the famine, World Wars, the industrial revolution, the Great Depression and countless recessions, nuclear meltdowns and the almost certain threat of nuclear war, through the Troubles and the ceasefire, and through the everyday disasters that made up life in between. On the whole, human beings are remarkably resilient. We have an extraordinary ability to keep going even when it seems impossible. And, at least I like to believe, there is still more good in the world than there is bad.

Bad news will continue to come, and it will probably always feel suffocating. The world will never be any easier for anyone with a sensitive soul, that’s for sure. It may be mentally exhausting to feel the need to care so much, about every issue, all the time, and even worse to feel so totally helpless to do anything to change it. But the saying goes, “Peace begins with a smile.” Of course, it’s a message that’s beaten to death, but a true one nevertheless. Every person who takes a stand against wrong doing and every small effort we make to support charity and those in need might only seem like a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less if not for that drop. We might not be able to singlehandedly fix the whole world, but if we only try our best to do what small things we can, perhaps that could be what it takes to tip the balance in good’s favour.