5 tips to establish a healthy relationship with the news and protect your mental health
With busy news cycles, it’s easy to see how much staying informed can take a toll on your mental health. But it doesn’t have to be like this
In today’s world of constant connectivity, there is little news avoidance. Continuous media coverage and countless online outlets mean it’s on our screens and at our fingertips, 24 hours a day. But sometimes the realities of what’s happening in the world can be just too overwhelming.
Indeed, research published in Scientists progress shows that media exposure is linked to higher levels of psychological distress and can exacerbate feelings of stress, anxiety and helplessness. Tani Taylor, hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, notes that people prone to anxiety and depression may also be more negatively affected by media coverage than others.
If you’re someone feeling the effects of a distressing news cycle right now, you might be facing a moral dilemma: stay informed about traumatic events happening in the world, or protect yourself to protect your health. mental.
Want to find a balance between the two? Try the following:
When you watch distressing events unfold, you may feel helpless to do anything, but finding a way to be of service can help ease that feeling of helplessness.
“Look at what realistic actions you can take that could benefit the cause you see in the news, like going to a shoebox drive or donating to an official charity,” Taylor advises. “Taking action like this is far more helpful to people who need your support, than making you sick in a state of anxiety, stress and overwhelm.”
Be aware of what you consume
For Taylor, finding the right balance requires good planning. She suggests setting aside a specific amount of time each day or week to pay attention to the news. You can decide to only browse the headlines during your lunch break or only watch the news three times a week.
“That way you don’t completely stop your exposure; you’re still following what’s going on without being in a constant state of trauma, which is unhealthy for you,” she explains.
Consider reading the news instead of watching it
Have you ever felt shaken and unsettled after a scary movie? Watching a scary news story can elicit a similar reaction.
“Our brain has two main control functions, our intellect – which can look at a situation and recognize how directly it affects us – and our limbic system – that fight/flight response that doesn’t have the ability to look at the rhyme. or reason, just instinctual responses to ensure your survival,” says Taylor.
“The trauma we are exposed to in the media can be perceived as trauma we experience in real life, and it can cause a psychological and physical reaction in our body and mind.”
Taylor says if you want to keep up to date, consider picking up a newspaper or reading the news online instead. Reading events is not as traumatic as seeing the images broadcast on the screen.
Pay attention to unnecessary thoughts
Have you started to catastrophize and imagine the worst scenarios?
“Our survival response often makes us negatively predict our future. It’s a protective mechanism, but it can sometimes get out of hand,” says Taylor.
When this happens, you may be plagued by feelings of worry, dread, and overwhelm. Taylor says the key is recognizing when you’re catastrophizing and leaning into those emotions. You can start by questioning the validity of your thoughts and writing down a list of facts that you know to be true.
“When we write down what we know to be the absolute truth, it can help us distinguish the facts from the overwhelming list of possibilities that surround us,” says Taylor.
Take a break from the news and spend it wisely
Most of us know that when it comes to news it helps to take a break, but those intentions can fall flat if we don’t actively schedule one.
“Pick when you’re going to take a break from the news and decide to replace that time with something that’s good for your mental health,” Taylor advises.
This might mean watching a familiar show that comforts you, going to therapy, or spending time with friends. Prioritizing rest and relaxation can be particularly beneficial.
“If you’re very anxious, try listening to guided relaxation that incorporates helpful breathing techniques,” Taylor advises.
You might feel guilty for taking a break from the news, but paying attention to yourself first and foremost means you can be more helpful to others and find proactive ways to help those in need.
If the news is affecting your mental health, check out the Advice Directory to learn more about healthy coping strategies or talk to a qualified counsellor.