Healthy News Consumption?
Too Much is Too Much:
It has become increasingly difficult to strike a healthy balance between being informed and being overwhelmed by the media we consume daily. Nowadays we are bombarded by news from many sources including social media sites, our communities and the more traditional sources.
While deciding how “well informed” we need to be, we must also examine how much the constant exposure to news is contributing to our stress levels and increasing symptoms like anxiety, insomnia and depression. Our media choices have a powerful impact on our thinking, behavior, and emotions. Mental heath professionals agree: Over-consumption of the news is damaging to our physical, emotional, and mental health.
How our Minds Work:
Our brains and minds evolved in a world that required constant vigilance and monitoring. Our ancestors survived because they were alert for threats. The news supplies us with threatening and sensationalized headlines. Sadly, these are the headlines that generate the most clicks! Whether consciously or not, we seek out these headlines in an effort to understand and evaluate the threats in our world.
Consuming these powerful stories activates the sympathetic nervous system, which causes our bodies to release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Consuming too much of this kind of news becomes toxic! It can leave us with a great sense of doom and dread for the future.
Is it Really that Bad?
In searching dire predictions I found many scientists in the 1970’s that predicted an impending ice age! In the 1980’s ozone depletion was going to end us, next it was acid rain. In the 1990’s it was predicted that killer bees would destroy all other bees in America and end domestic fruit production. The list of things to fear goes on and on.
It’s important to be aware of the threats, whether real or fanciful, that we face as a society but it isn’t worth destroying our mental health three times a day to analyze them.
The key to staying healthy is moderation. Staying informed is not just responsible, but critical to moving our society and world safely into the future. To strike the balance of moderation you’ll have to find the right fit for you.
Find Your Balance:
- Begin by taking note of how often you check in, discuss, or are exposed to current events media.
- How much changes in-between these checks-ins?
- Are you simply re-reading the same information?
- Notice how you feel before consuming the news and then notice how you feel after engaging with the news?
Limit Your Time:
Many health experts recommend no more than 30 minutes a day. This is ample time to follow the large stories once or twice a week and stay informed on local issues.
Just think of what you can accomplish with all of that free time!
Photos courtesy of: Jhefferson Santos, Chris F, Pixabay, and Agung Pandit Wiguna via Pexels.