Thanks to the digital revolution, we live in an age where we are constantly bombarded with news. Not only do “old fashioned” news sources like print newspapers, radio and television still pump out information, but social media has made it easier than ever to fixate on troubling news events in our communities and around the world.
It’s important to know what’s going on – having factual knowledge is how we form our opinions about social and political movements and events – but sometimes too much can be, well, too much. Constantly immersing ourselves in the 24/7 news cycle can impact our wellbeing. Troubling news stories can be triggering to those with mental health issues stemming from traumatic incidents, and to those prone to depression or anxiety.
So how can we balance our need to know what’s going on with our need to protect our mental health? Psychology Today has some wonderful tips to help us cope with the problem of never-ending news:
- Designate a specific “news time” during which you allow yourself to become immersed in stories that interest you. Saving your daily news consumption for one specific time during the day (or a few times a day if you feel you need to stay up-to-date on a developing story) will help to keep you from getting pulled down rabbit holes on and off all day long.
- Be mindful when you do read or watch the news. Do a body scan to see if you are tensing up your muscles, and make sure your breathing isn’t shallow – or worse, that you’re holding your breath and not breathing at all. If you notice that you are tense and holding your breath, make an effort to relax your body; take your tongue off the roof of your mouth, drop your shoulders from up around your ears, and let your jaw go slack. And breathe. Always breathe!
- Filter what you see. This doesn’t mean only look at news sources that support your own opinion or bias, but it does mean that you don’t need to read every single article, email, tweet or post about a news story that you’re following. Unsubscribe from sources that are filling your email box with unwanted information, and think twice before signing up for any more. Unfollow angry Twitter users who fuel your own rage, and vow to simply find unbiased, reputable news sources so you can form your own opinions. Choose not to read every single article posted by well-meaning friends on Facebook. Remember, you have control over how much news you are going to consume every day.
Most importantly, make sure to always make your mental health a priority.
If you find yourself struggling and can no longer manage your worries on your own, remember that there is no shame in reaching out for help. You deserve to be as happy as possible, and there are people who truly can give you the tools you need to feel better. Talk to your doctor today.
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