Do you find yourself watching the evening news and then regretting it, as you lie awake worrying about the state of the world? Or are you constantly checking your phone to get the latest updates? Well, you are not alone –
- One in ten adults checks the news every hour 1https://time.com/5125894/is-reading-news-bad-for-you/
- According to one research study – “16.5% of people surveyed showed signs of ‘severely problematic’ news consumption” 2https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/08/220824102936.htm
- As Cecille Ahrens, clinical director of Transcend Therapy, says, “We are evolutionarily wired to screen for and anticipate danger”.
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that this is bad for you, but with so much information available now, it’s easy to get into these habits. Social media, news apps, and websites are designed to hook us onto the latest story, the latest disaster. It takes a concerted effort to unplug ourselves and consume this knowledge in a healthier way.
Prior to the nineteenth century, we had little understanding of world affairs, and you have to wonder if it’s healthy for us to know so much about what’s going on in the world. The film title “Everything Everywhere All at Once” springs to mind. It feels like bad news is coming at us from all angles and is never-ending and very little of it is within our control. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, fear, and hopelessness.3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096381/
The term ‘news anxiety’ was coined in the 1990s around the time when 24-hour news channels became the norm. 4https://mentalhealth-uk.org/blog/how-to-cope-with-news-anxiety/ Research shows that when you hear negative news, cortisol levels rise which can lead to feelings of nervousness and anxiety. Rapid heart rate, jitteriness, feeling faint, headaches, poor sleep, and negative thought patterns are all symptoms of stress and anxiety. 5https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-to-balance-staying-informed-and-not-being-overwhelmed-by-stressful-news
So what is the answer?
It seems to be a skill in itself – being aware of what’s happening in the world through the careful intake of quality, unbiased sources of information and consuming just enough to feel informed but not overwhelmed! It’s a challenge, so let’s break it down into some simple ‘rules’.
Ways to manage news anxiety:
- Put aside a time of the day (not bedtime!) to listen/watch/read the news and allow yourself a limited amount of time. It’s easy to ‘doom scroll’ on a smartphone and jump from story to story, crisis to crisis, so you have to be strict with it!
- Limit the source of news to one or two sites/papers/programmes/channels.
- If you find yourself feeling anxious, sad, or angry, take time out – go for a walk, do some mindfulness practice, speak to a friend, or do a hobby such as gardening, arts and crafts, or reading a book – a lighthearted one of course 😉
- Have a read of Shann’s article – 3 simple hacks to manage stress -for practical tips on coping with stress and overwhelm.
- Consider getting your current affairs updates from positive sources such as The Good News Network or The Happy Newspaper 🙂
If you’re interested in articles about lifestyle and improving your mental well-being, have a look at these related posts on our blog, The Gut Health Express:
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