- The negative effects of overexposure to annoying news have been documented in several studies.
- A diet with disturbing news ultimately leads to a darker worldview.
- Read five steps to help you overcome the bad news.
How to survive the news
COVID cases and deaths are increasing. Economic turbulence. Protests and riots. Political stupidity, day after day, hour after hour. The news these days is almost always grim, even incredible, and the average person sure feels it. We wrote about the rise in stress levels in the United States while friends around the world share similar trends.
What can you do to avoid sinking into the desperation and fear of the future that therapists say affects so many people? Here are some ideas:
1. Take a break from viewing the news. It's pretty obvious: if the news ravages you, don't inundate yourself with it. Do you feel obliged to be informed? Okay, but does that mean knowing every single nuance and nuance of political conversation day and night? As the world stage becomes more violent, bizarre and unpredictable, many of us are diving into the 24 hour news cycle, making headlines several times a day from various sources: internet, Facebook, television, car radio, newspapers, conversations with strangers and friends. How often do you really need to be informed of the same depressing story every day?
The negative effects of overexposure to annoying news have been documented in several studies. In 2011, scientists found that news of terrorist attacks actually triggered PTSD in some viewers and that the likelihood of developing trauma is directly related to the time spent watching news reports. We have already reported on a study from 2013 which found that "People who saw extensive coverage of a traumatic event on television were more stressed than those who were close to the event. ”Other studies have found that immersion in news events tends to make journalists over-sensitive or deaf. While these effects usually only affect those who are already prone to depression or PTSD, even the mentally healthy will feel the effects.
According to British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey “Negative news can dramatically change a person's mood, especially if the news broadcast tends to emphasize the suffering as well as the emotional components of the story. Negative news, in particular, can affect your personal worries. Viewing negative news means that you are likely to see your personal worries as more threatening and serious. When you worry about this, the more likely it is that your worries are difficult to control and more distressing than they normally are. ”
Dr. Mary McNaughton-Cassill of the University of Texas – San Antonio adds, “When I've done studies on people reporting, for example, September 11th, they don't qualify for depression in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ]. But if you ask them how they are feeling about the world, they end up feeling uncomfortable: "Everything is kind of bad" and "Why should I choose?" It won't help and I could donate money, but there will only be one other child starving next week. She adds that dieting with disturbing news ultimately leads to a darker worldview.
The bottom line here isn't that you should bury your head in the sand, but that it's okay to give yourself permission to take a break if you find that the bombardment of incriminating reports is causing you to be unhealthy and / or mental Behavior drives states. How often do you really need to be informed of the same depressing story every day?
2. Stop discussing the news with friends ad nauseum. Bad news is like gossip. It's so juicy, so colorful, so easy to dive in and there's a pinch of adrenaline that comes with discussions about the sad state of the world. In addition, sharing your despair over world events builds quick bonds with others. But like reading and watching negative news, discussing it can darken the mood, build paranoia, and create real distress.
Of course, you could find comfort in sharing your reactions to the news and hearing their perspectives. The key is to watch yourself. If you find that your heart is racing, your palms are sweating, your dreams are disturbed, and your thoughts grow darker after such discussions, you may want to limit your participation. And to paraphrase our earlier question, how many times do you have to repeat the same depressing discussion about the same news event with your friends?
3. Process the state of the world with a professional therapist. If you are prone to depression or PTSD and find that world events have exacerbated your problems, it is advisable to seek professional help. As we previously reported, a major factor leading to a sharp increase in the number of people suffering from anxiety has to do with concerns about world conditions. People who are members of minorities, alternative lifestyles, or immigrant groups, or who have been indirectly or directly affected by terrorist attacks, may be particularly excited right now and may need special assistance.
4th exerciseand do not set the television monitor to news while you are working on the treadmill. When you are feeling fit, life won't seem so dangerous or bleak, and you won't feel so helpless. You really can't control world events, but you can at least control your own body. As we repeat endlessly here, mood, mental and physical health, chances of survival, and life satisfaction and productivity improve with more daily exercise. The trick is to set up and stick to an exercise routine so that you don't stop exercising because the world situation makes you feel too paralyzed to break a sweat. And here's a thought: why not just take the time that you've spent watching and talking about the same message every day and exercise instead?
5. Keep a gratitude journal. No matter how miserable the world arena, even if your own life has been influenced by worrying events, there is always something to be thankful for. The sun rose in the morning; you are still breathing; the light shimmers on the water; The water in your glass is at the right temperature. you have a glass; You have water; You have a working mouth for drinking; and so on. Take note of the blessings that you have do Don't have all of the real difficulties you endure and potential disasters you might face ease the burden. Numerous studies confirm that gratitude boosts the immune system, leads to better heart health, reduces insomnia, improves mood and general happiness. If you write down five things that you are grateful for every day, you will most likely feel less oppressed by your own life and world events as they unfold.
Finally, there are many natural herbs and remedies that can reduce stress as well. For more information on herbs that help reduce stress, see Jon's article, "Relaxed, Alerted, and Feeling Good."