We’re often asked - what do you wanna hear first? The good news or the bad news? But what happens when that choice is taken away and the only options are bad news or worse news? Sure, we would love to chuck our phones out of our windows and never read another news alert again. We would also love world peace, a giant mansion and some mind reading skills. But let's be realistic.
Research shows a direct correlation between negative news and declining mental health over time. Today’s news is getting increasingly visual and shocking and unsurprisingly, causing problems like anxiety, mood swings, sleep disorders and aggressive behaviour. Avoiding news completely is ill-advised, albeit effective. With a few minor changes in your news consumption habits, it is possible to find that balance of staying informed and staying sane.
Here are some tips for staying updated on current events without sacrificing your peace of mind.
1. Set aside a designated time for news
Carve out a designated space in your schedule to not only consume but more importantly, process news media. It’s crucial to reflect and respond to all the information you’re taking in to avoid dealing with it throughout the day. If you’re feeling anxious about the news, jot down all your worries and concerns in a journal to get these anxieties out of your head.
Equally vital is developing the skill to redirect yourself to a place of calm and peace before continuing with your day.
2. Make an effort to get positive news too
From political upheavals to climate change to pandemics, the news can be pretty grim. For that reason, it becomes all the more important to remind ourselves of all the goodness happening in the world. Get your daily dose of positivity from the ‘good news’ section of Times Of India or Indian Express or head to websites like thebetterindia.com, goodnewsnetwork.org, optimistdaily.com which are solely dedicated to positive news.
3. Do NOT watch news before bed
Anything stressful triggers the release of the stress hormone - cortisol which alerts the body, putting it into ‘fight-or-flight’ mode. Turning off news at least one hour before bed helps your brain know it’s time for bed. Getting sufficient and quality sleep not only helps in managing stress but also aids in processing information. So catch those Z’s!
4. Participate in the political process
Political news can be disturbing and evoke intense feelings of helplessness, grief and anxiety. If there’s a particular political decision or movement causing you stress, find a way to get involved outside the online bubble. Volunteer with local organisations, donate money to an organisation whose work you value or start a community support group for like minded people.
It’s also important to seek out multiple news sources to avoid biases.
And most importantly, don’t forget to VOTE!
5. Use stress reducing techniques
You can’t control the news but you can control your response to it. That is why, it’s important to incorporate effective stress relievers in your daily schedule to keep calm and carry on. Some stress relief strategies include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, work outs, aromatherapy, a walk in nature and hugging a loved one.
6. Take a break
Sometimes nothing seems to be helping when you’re being constantly bombarded with distressing headlines and gory images. Take this as a sign to unplug from the news cycle and get some ‘me-time’ to feel centred again.
In an age where disturbing news is more sellable than those baggy jeans we’ve been seeing everywhere, it is our job as consumers to make better and smarter choices.