As we face further lockdown restrictions, we're more likely to turn to technology for our entertainment.
While technology brings a sense of connection and many benefits to our socially distanced lives, there is a serious downside to being permanently plugged in. It’s easy to become transfixed by endless news alerts and relentless rolling headlines. Passively soaking up every distressing detail and alarming statistic leaves us feeling powerless. We have a basic need for certainty to feel safe and relaxed, but this sense of being out of control leaves us anxious and overwhelmed.
News related anxiety is not new. A 1997 study showed that negative news affects your mental health and makes you more likely to see situations as worse than they actually are. Negative articles make you worry more about everything, even if those things aren’t related to the news.
In some ways, it’s perfectly understandable. Nature has wired our brain for survival. We naturally notice and remember information that could be a potential threat to our safety. Fortunately, there are practical ways to stem the effect of relentless bad news on our wellbeing while still staying up to date with the information we need.
Take a news break
If you feel that your mood or wellbeing is suffering, make a firm commitment to yourself to take back control and look after your own wellbeing
- Set a realistic time limit on reading or watching news
- Consider picking up highlights or a daily summary which is naturally limited rather than scrolling through endless rolling updates or watching a 24 hour news channel
- Turn off news notifications and alerts from your phone, tablet or desktop. Then you make a conscious choice to go and find news, it doesn’t push its way uninvited into your life
- Think carefully about when you decide to catch up with the news. Make sure you have time to process the information and unwind before it’s time to go to bed
- Be aware that other people may feel differently and have different opinions about their own news habits. Respect their choice, and ask them to respect yours
Be patient with yourself. Building a new habit takes time and persistence. Don’t beat yourself up if it takes a while to settle into this new behaviour. For more tips on building and breaking habits read our article.
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