Do you often watch or read the news and find yourself feeling sad or hopeless regarding the world? Are you someone who always has news running in the background either via television or social media feed?
Currently, each of us have spent a weekend where the horrific events in Paris have been on replay in various forms and from different perspectives. News outlets flew journalists overnight to bring the story first hand and the main anchors were brought in for the weekend as a way to remind the viewer that this news is horrific. Interviews have been done witnesses and analysts while videos have been on constant replay.
Several years ago I put a stop to watching more than 30 minutes of my local news. I so rarely watch a 24 hour news channel that I do not even know where they are located. As a grief counselor, I was spending my days being present for stories of tragic death or long term caregiving. If an accident occurred within the community, there was a strong likelihood that I (or one of the other counselors) would eventually become involved. Absorbing unnecessary news information often weighed me down.
Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that am not advocating to never watch the news or read a news story. We need to be informed. However, when there is a constant stream of bad news present in our life it does begin to affect our mental health. Research has shown that individuals who view several hours of news coverage report higher incidences of acute stress. Additionally, many individuals who repeatedly view tragic events such as the Boston Marathon bombings often experience more symptoms than those who were present at the bombings.
An individual who is already dealing with anxiety or depression will often find their symptoms increase after viewing the news. Although it is uncertain if an individual with anxiety and depression focuses more upon depressing news, it is noted that it obviously increases whatever one is feeling. In studies, individuals who do not self report anxiety or depression have found that after watching negative news feeds they become more focused upon their own worries. Often these individuals would begin to catastrophize their worries while individuals who did not view negative news feeds did not experience anxiety or increased worry.
The news media wants to grab your attention. As a result, the feeds on television and print will be full of words and images that are often sensationalized that pull you in. Our brains are naturally wired to seek out what could harm us. Sadly, an overdose of news makes one feel that everything is a threat and that the world is bad. There are many suggestions that not watching the news will make an individual happier. Watching the news can be a distraction to concentration and lead to less creativity, less family time and as stated before can lead to a chronic state of stress.
Here are some suggestions for changing your news obtaining habits.
Consider how you are obtaining the news. Do you prefer to see the news via television or via the internet? Do you turn the television on in the morning while you are getting ready for work? Do you have multiple news sources in your social media feeds?
Be aware of your news sources. The different media outlets will all slant the news in their own perspective. Choose a reputable paper that you can access online when needed, know what news programming you prefer and do not become overloaded with news from multiple sources.
Limit the amount of time the news is on your television and in your life.. Most local news channels run the news for several hours at a time but it is simply a repeat of what has been stated. Choose a time you will view and then change the channel or turn it off.
Seek out positive news stories on a regular basis. There are sources such as Tiny Buddha, The Happiness Project, Daily Good, or Huffington Post Good News which deliver a daily focus of positive and good news. Realize that there is good in the world.
How does the news make you feel?
Today I am joining Emily’s Grateful Heart because I always want to remember I am grateful to live in a country where I have the choice of where, when and from whom I receive the news.