In this day and age, the news can be a huge stressor in our lives.
We are living in a very interesting time in history. A lot of things have changed very rapidly, and every day it seems we are bombarded with depressing and anxiety-fueling information, courtesy of the news. Bad things happening is nothing new of course, but in the age of the Internet we are exposed to much more of it, at a much faster pace, and since many of us remember what it was like without the Internet, our minds haven’t caught up with the technology.
This of course leads to nervousness, anxiety, and depression, because to be frank, a lot of the stuff going on in the world is really upsetting.
As I am sure you know (since I talk about it so much), stress is one of the worst things your body can go through, because it affects everything in your life, especially when it reaches chronic levels. If you are the kind of person who has CNN on the background at all times, chances are your level of stress just stays at a chronic level, which can have a really bad effect on your health.
According to the American Psychological Association, 95% of Americans report that they watch the news regularly, and 56% say that it causes them stress. Obviously we want to stay informed, but at some point it definitely starts to affect our health and quality of life. So how do we combat this? The answer, as always, is balance.
Make some rules regarding the news. Limit your exposure to news outlets to 30 minutes or less per day. You should be able to catch up on everything that happened in a 30 minute period, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to know everything that happens in the world the second it happens.
Learn good stress relief tactics. I don’t care if it’s a meditation, yoga class, deep breathing exercise, or just a scheduled time to be mindful every day, find some way to relax that works for you, and utilize it, especially when you feel stress creeping in.
Unplug. I know its hard, but I promise that you will feel a palpable difference between putting your phone away, and turning it off. When our phones are on, we feel a connection to the outside world, but it is a false sense of connection. Try actually turning your phone off for an hour or so a day, especially if you are doing something relaxing. It will make a difference.
Focus on your thought processes. If you catch yourself dwelling on a particular news story long after you watch or read about it, find something to distract your mind. At the end of the day there is likely very little you can do about the problems of the world, so if there is some small way you can make a difference, do it. If there isn’t find some way to get it off your mind.
Be realistic. You should remind yourself that most news stories are negative because that is what sells. Lots of great things are happening in the world too, but happy endings just don’t get the same reaction as sad ones. If you find yourself depressed about the state of the world, do something to get involved and make a difference, whether you are mentoring a troubled youth, or donating money to a worthy cause (there are no shortage of those).
Watching the news and letting it depress you can create an unhealthy cycle of negativity. Doing something positive in the world is a surefire way to not only change your perceptions, but in some small way, change the world, too.