There is no shortage of distressing news in the media today, and whether it’s climate change, a global pandemic, elections, war, terrorism, or racial injustice, reading or watching the news too much can take a serious toll on mental health. Although much attention is paid to how children and adolescents process negative news reports, older adults too can suffer from checking the news too often or doomscrolling through shock-value headlines.
It’s important to stay informed, especially about safety measures that protect your health, but starting your day by skimming the top stories may not be the best idea. If too much negative news sends you down a rabbit hole of despair or anxiety, it might be better to begin the day with a more positive activity, like enjoying a morning coffee outdoors or going for a brisk walk. Save your news consumption for later in the day, perhaps after lunch, and certainly not right before bedtime when bad news can cause negative rumination and interfere with a good night’s sleep.
According to a recent Inside Science report, it is beneficial to mental health to limit how much media you consume on a daily basis. Be sure to rely on trusted and credible news sources for information and read, watch or listen to the entire story to gain a better perspective and understanding. Headlines, designed to draw your attention, can often be misleading.
Today, with the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack, keep in mind that our own mood can be influenced by the news. An onslaught of negative information can cause people to not only worry about the issues being reported but also focus more on their own problems and concerns. Uncertainty about the future can cause anxiety and stress but by shifting focus to the positive and things within our control, life can be more manageable and joyful.
Read more about how to decrease stress from too much negative press and start cultivating a more hopeful mindset in a recent blog post by Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D. in Psychology Today.