I’ve always considered myself a very in-the-know type of person. Every morning I wake up, check my e-mails, my social media feeds, and then I check out what the major news outlets are saying. I even have a paid subscription to several online newspapers. Six months ago I would have told you I enjoyed reading every bit of it. The human interest stories, business insights, and world happenings.
A Shift in Perspective
Now, as the world is undergoing massive change not only am I finding it harder to keep up with facts that are changing by the minute, but I am also finding myself overwhelmed and filled with worry. What was once something I enjoyed doing is now something I do out of compulsion and a sense of obligation. It’s taking a major toll on me mentally and emotionally. I see flurries of push notifications come through on my phone and I get a ping of anxiety in my stomach.
It turns out that I’m not alone in experiencing these feelings. Research shows that watching or reading constant news coverage of scary, negative events and statistics can trigger symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and panic attacks in individuals; even those who are not directly effected by such happenings.
Now might be the time to disconnect from social media and turn off the news–at least for a little while.
The News and Your Mental Health
If you’re like me, you feel compelled to open a push notification as soon as you see it pop up on your screen. It’s probably time to turn those push notifications off. It’s also probably time to turn the news off the television, even if you just keep it on as background noise.
A study conducted by The British Psychological Society shows that just 14-minutes of exposure to negative news can significantly impact your mood and lead individuals to “catastrophize personal worries.” Exposure to negative news causes anxiety and sadness and exacerbates personal concerns that aren’t related to the direct story. For example, exposure to a story about violence in your city can have a referred effect and result in you worrying more about your finances.
You may be finding yourself more sensitive than usual these days, like many others around the world. You aren’t alone and your emotions are not without cause.
How to Disconnect
We live in a digital society. The GR8 part about that is we have information available at our fingertips and can find the answer to virtually any question in a manner of minutes. The not-so-GR8 part is that we are constantly inundated with what’s going on around us, and it can negatively impact our mental health.
If you are struggling with the same problems as I am right now, along with many others, you may want to disconnect for a short period. Even if it’s just a weekend or a single evening. I know it’s easier said than done, as so many of use of phones and smart devices for work and school that it may seem impossible.
What to Do
First, turn off the news in your living room. Switch to a home cooking channel, or even cheesy reality shows. Anything but the news for just one night. Next, turn off those push notifications. You can always turn them back on later, but a one day break from the constant tidbits of info can help clear your mind.
If you really want to avoid the negativity consider deactivating your social media accounts temporarily. Monitor your feelings and see if you start to notice an improvement within a few days.
Right now, it might be time to turn off the news. Even if it’s just for today.