It seems like everywhere you look, there are disturbing headlines and more bad news.
Watching the news can create stress and anxiety even in the best of times. In times of crisis, however, the psychological effects of bad news can have a major impact on your well-being.
While it’s tempting to just completely tune out, it’s also important to stay somewhat informed.
So what can you do? Is there a way to combat “headline anxiety” while still keeping up with what’s going on around you? The answer is yes, but it takes some effort.
The Problem with Watching the News
Back in the day, you got your news by picking up a paper and reading it. No matter how disturbing it was, when you were done, you could put it down and move on. Today, we’re bombarded with 24/7 news channels. Even when we shut off the TV, the headlines come through on our phones, in our emails, and in our social media feeds.
We often recognize that the news is depressing, but it seems impossible to get away from it. Other times, we feel compelled to keep watching for fear of missing something important.
What happens, though, is that this constant onslaught of disturbing news can trigger intense feelings of helplessness and a nagging sense of dread. This is particularly common among women.
How do you stay informed without letting the news drag you down? Try these tips.
Limit Your Exposure
Completely tuning out from the news works for some, but it certainly has its drawbacks. First, not knowing what’s going on around you can create some safety issues. Secondly, when you’re talking to others, being ill-informed can leave you feeling embarrassed and take a toll on your self-confidence.
The trick is to make sure you know enough about what’s going on without immersing yourself in it. Instead of tuning into the news channels — which are often over-sensationalized for the sake of ratings — consider subscribing to one high-quality newspaper. If you don’t want the waste of having a physical paper delivered to your home, subscribe to the digital version instead. Just make sure you don’t opt in to all of their other emails, or you’ll defeat the whole purpose.
When you get your paper, read enough so you feel like you know what’s going on in the world, then set it aside for the day.
Focus on What You Can Control
It’s common for headlines about things like immigration, mass shootings, or environmental disasters to make us feel both powerless and defeated. While you may not be able to directly do anything about these issues on the grand scale, there’s often something you can do to make the world a better place.
If something is really bothering you, spend some time doing research to see what you can do at a local level. Join a local political party or action group, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or organize a neighborhood effort to plant more trees.
Focusing on making real, positive changes in your community can make you feel empowered and help to cut back on some of the anxiety you feel.
Look for News with a Positive Spin
Often, the same news is reported in very different ways depending on the agency that’s providing the information. Make it a point to avoid news outlets that always seem to be looking to place blame or approaching stories with a “doomsday” outlook. While it’s true that not all news can be good news, there’s no reason to make it even worse than it is.
It’s also a great idea to seek out positive news stories. When it seems like everything is going wrong, it’s nice to remind yourself that there are good things happening in the world. Just Google “Positive News Stories” and you’ll see plenty of options.
Find an outlet you really like? Sign up for their weekly or daily email. This way, you’ll have interesting things to talk about with your friends without bombarding yourself with too much bad news.
Avoid Breaking News
When something big happens, it takes a while for the news media to get all their facts straight. Gluing yourself to the TV while things unfold will just create unnecessary stress. If you can, wait a while and then tune back in. This will help ensure that you’re getting the facts, instead of speculation and half-truths. Many times, the assumptions are worse than the actual event, so skipping this part can help reduce your anxiety.
Try Not to Get Your News from Social Media
There are plenty of people on social media who love to post political headlines and other news stories — and not everyone has the best of intentions. Most are trying to support some type of personal agenda. Others enjoy getting people riled up or having something to argue about.
Even worse, the articles that are posted aren’t always from reliable sources and some are totally out of date or completely untrue! Always take headlines you see on social media with a grain of salt and never believe anything based on a headline alone.
If you’re compelled, click through — then really evaluate what you’re looking at. What’s the date on the article? What platform is it posted on? Does the article really say what the headline implies it does?
Even better, just scroll past and ignore it. If you’re finding that the same people are posting things that bother you all the time, consider unfriending them or just hiding them from your newsfeed (here’s how to do it).
Avoid the News Before Bed
You might think it’s a great idea to get a quick news update before you go to bed — but don’t do it! All this will do is fuel your anxiety and will likely impact your ability to sleep. If something groundbreaking is happening, there’s a good chance that someone will tell you about it. Otherwise, there’s nothing that can’t wait until you get up in the morning.
If you’re finding that you’re losing sleep over headline anxiety, consider deleting social media apps from your phone as well. All too often, we decide to check Facebook or Twitter for a quick update before bed, only to find ourselves dragged into a rabbit hole of the latest stressful news story.
If you’re super anxious after watching the news, you might need to take some steps to distract yourself. Try spending 20 or 30 minutes reading a great book, put on some of your favorite music, or call a friend (just don’t talk about the news!). Other distraction techniques include taking a hot bath, meditating, doing yoga, or going for a walk.
It’s also a great idea to make sure that you stay physically active. A fairly intense sweat-session can help clear your mind and will help you sleep better at night.
Lastly, it’s helpful to accept the fact that some level of uncertainty is simply a part of life. While you can’t control everything that happens, you can control how you react to it. So take a deep breath, step away from the news, and make a real effort to live your best life despite the current headlines.
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, you may want to take a look at a few more…
What Will Your “New Normal” Look Like When the World Opens Back Up?
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“Productivity Pressure” can be dangerous for your mental health during this challenging time. Here’s how to cope.
Originally published at https://blissquest.net on May 6, 2020.