Feeling like it might be time to flip the switch, unplug and go offline for a little while?
As the pandemic continues on, many of us may be finding ourselves glued to our computers, phones, tablets and televisions to keep up with the latest developments in the news.
Or maybe it’s politics, police violence or foreign policy—there are just so many important things happening in the world around us each and every day.
While we should certainly make an effort to stay current on what’s going on, the truth is, all of the bad news can feel like just too much to handle sometimes.
According to a 2017 study from the American Psychological Association, 56% of responding adults reported feeling stressed out by following the news. Consider the added stressors of the pandemic, and that number is likely to be even higher today.
Wondering how to cope with it all? Here are five tips on how to unplug, or at least regain some perspective, when it feels like there’s just more bad than good going on out there in the world.
1. Place a time limit on your daily media consumption
While the stress-inducing capability of the news has always existed to some extent, it’s more of a problem nowadays since the news is so much more easily accessible than it used to be.
With our smartphones within reach nearly 24/7, there’s always a temptation to do a quick scroll through our feeds to get the latest information.
Sometimes, it’s not even intentional.
Maybe you go to your phone to message a friend, calculate a bill or update your calendar and, the next thing you know, you’re checking the news again. You’re hardly alone in doing this.
To avoid the problem, one mental health expert told VerywellMind.com it can be helpful to limit your daily media consumption. She recommends a 30-minute daily limit for both the news and social media.
2. Prioritize your overall health and wellbeing
It’s easy to get drawn in by the negative news that’s going on and adopt a very narrow focus of the world.
To combat this, TheConversation.com reminds us that it’s important to pay attention to our overall health and wellbeing. It can distract your from some of the negativity, and at the same time, help get you moving in the right direction.
Try focusing on the following:
- maintain a healthy diet
- make an effort to exercise
- get quality sleep
- practice a healthy work-life balance
- dedicate time for mindfulness
- regularly reach out to friends and family
By focusing on the whole “self,” we can help strengthen our overall health and wellbeing while also tuning out some of the negative noise that’s going on around us.
3. Turn to a friend for your news
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed after limiting your exposure to the news and also expanding your focus on your health and wellbeing, it may be time to cut news consumption out of your daily schedule altogether for a little while.
Another mental health expert tells VerywellMind.com that it may be worth asking a friend or family member to give you a summary of the most important developments in the news a few times each week instead.
4. Be aware of where your information is coming from
Even from trustworthy sources, there’s a lot of negative news floating around out there today. But what about when you factor in less-than reputable sources?
In this day and age, publishing information online is so easy that literally anyone with internet access can do it. It can be as simple as posting a meme on Facebook.
As a result, there’s a lot of bad information out there—from heavily-biased reporting to outright misinformation. And with so many people getting their news from social media today, it can be a recipe for disaster.
According to a survey conducted last year by the Pew Research Center, 36% of American adults said they regularly get their news on Facebook. When it comes to other platforms, 53% said they “often” or “sometimes” consume the news on social media.
Keep the following in mind to weed out “bad” information on social media.
- don’t trust memes for your news
- pay attention to the sources that are being shared
- don’t make assumptions based on social media posts or headlines alone without actually reading the story; even if not outright false, stories are often sensationalized
Remember: just because you saw it on social media, doesn’t mean it’s true. By making an effort to factcheck, you can steer clear of some of the concerning stories you see.
5. See the good that exists
It’s important to remember that what we see on the news isn’t necessarily an accurate depiction of what’s really going on in the world on a day-to-day basis.
Sure, if the source is legitimate, you can usually trust that what’s being reported is true. But that doesn’t represent all of what’s going on in the world. That’s what makes it newsworthy.
If the media covered every happy family get-together, uneventful train ride or routine trip to the supermarket that took place in the world, that wouldn’t really be “news,” would it? Most of the time, people are just going about living their ordinary (and, hopefully, happy) lives.
While outlets do occasionally cover “feel good” stories, those often only get a very small amount of coverage compared to all of the other stuff.
Check out this nice list from MakeUseOf.com for a good collection of sources that focus only on positive news stories.
You’re not alone
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious about what you’re seeing in the news, know that you are far from the only one. It’s a common trend in our society, and it’s happening more and more often.
By making an effort to see the big picture, though, and focusing on living healthily, we can limit the negative effect the news may sometimes have on our lives.
Are you feeling stressed or anxious about the world to the point that it’s affecting your day-to-day life? If so, it may be time to consider getting mental health support from a professional. Meridian’s dedicated clinicians are standing by to help. Learn about getting a mental health evaluation today.