Most of us go through life with a selective ear for the news we take in, preferring to take in the positive rather than the negative. However, recent events have made it extremely challenging. We’re bombarded with news about COVID-19, police brutality, the forest fires, the warming of the ocean; the list is endless.
Compounded with the way that we gain access to the news and the way it’s presented, an adverse effect on one’s mental psyche is almost expected.
In order to properly manage and maintain our mental health, let’s take a look at how the brain navigates through this constant stream of disastrous news.
Bad News For Profit
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we’ll need to first understand that the news media industry is essentially a business. This is especially apparent with the way news is presented today: sensationalised and increasingly visual.
Often, the news is curated in a way that ensures it garners as many clicks, and the more sensationalise and dramatic it is, the more the industry profits. The news of today is no doubt, enthralling and entertaining, and it’s hard to argue that all of it is truly illuminating.
This would’ve been easily filtered out if the human brain isn’t wired to pay close attention to negative information. Also known as negativity bias, this concept is an innate survival attribute that allows us to avoid harm. It is programmed to detect harm and threats that may put us in danger.
Since we’re predisposed to go negative, the news follows this line of thought by pushing out more bad news than good. We’ll slowly succumb to the addiction if we’re not conscious and aware of what we’re consuming.
Neurological And Physiological Consequences
Unfortunately, consuming negative news is detrimental to our mental psyche and physical health. Studies have shown that bad news is a mood-changer, producing sadness and anxiety, and exacerbating personal worries even if they may seem unrelated to the news you’re consuming.
Consuming bad news activates your fight and flight response, promoting the production and release of your stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. When these hormones are released frequently, it may lead to physical changes and ailments.
Cortisol, in particular, has been linked to inflammation associated with several health issues such as cardiovascular diseases and rheumatoid arthritis.
What You Can Do To Improve Your Mental Illness
As with all things in life, the key to staying healthy is moderate consumption. Avoiding news entirely is not feasible, especially since staying informed is vital when facing a crisis.
- Take a break
What you can do to avoid getting overwhelmed by the content you’re consuming is to schedule a block of time to go through the news and your social media. You’re recommended to take up 30 minutes at most, scrolling through your social media accounts and new exposure combined.
- Check in with yourself
That’s not the end, however. Since symptoms of anxiety and depression can easily arise with the type of content you’re consuming – regardless of the time you’ve invested in it – you’d want to find ways to navigate through those emotions lest they spiral out of control.
Scheduling a “worry time” is a common strategy that many find useful. It requires you to digest and acknowledge the content you’ve come across, identify your worries and make plans on ways to address the issues. Always be aware of not only the news content, but also the way it makes you feel.
- Address your feelings in a healthy manner
Once your 30 minutes is up, strive to do something healthy to combat the feelings of anxiety and worry. You may want to take a stroll in the park or spend time doing your hobbies.
If those solutions are not alleviating your mental stresses, you may want to consider talking to a professional. They will not only help you to break down your issues into smaller and digestible pieces, but they will find ways to help you navigate and alleviate your worries in a way that works for you.
MyCLNQ is a mobile app that allows users to get in touch with the next available doctor at a clinic near you. Moreover, it also allows you to set up a digital appointment or an online medical consultation, if you prefer to stay within the comforts of your home. Consult a doctor online about your health worries and strive to not only be physically fit, but mentally healthy as well.