I have to admit something to you. I have started and stopped writing this post on numerous occasions. Why? I am nervous to ‘put it out there’. I am nervous of being called ignorant and privileged, or any other type of negative things said about someone who doesn’t want be glued to the news cycle 24/7. However, I have to believe there are others out there like me, and if so, this post is for you. If you find you are not resonating with this post, that is OK. Perhaps move on from this one, or even better, read it for another perspective.
I struggle because I believe in taking care of my mental health and reducing mental clutter, but I also know that just because I don’t think about the things that are in the news, doesn’t mean they just go away.
So please know that as you’re reading this, I am not encouraging people to turn away from the hard things going on in the world or ignoring them.
I’m simply advocating for others to realize when they’ve taken too much in, and how to avoid doing so in the future. Why? So that we can be well enough to take action towards improving the bad things that are happening. So that those negative feelings and emotions you get from being too absorbed in the news don’t leak into other areas of your life.
If you still are skeptical, take a look at the following research about taking in too much news:
““Negative news can significantly change an individual’s mood — especially if there is a tendency in the news broadcasts to emphasize suffering and also the emotional components of the story,” Davey told The Huffington Post. “In particular… negative news can affect your own personal worries. Viewing negative news means that you’re likely to see your own personal worries as more threatening and severe, and when you do start worrying about them, you’re more likely to find your worry difficult to control and more distressing than it would normally be.”
According to Davey, the way that negative news affects your mood can also have a larger affect on how you interpret and interact with the world around you. If it makes you more anxious or sad for instance, then you may subconsciously become more attuned to negative or threatening events, and you may be more likely to see ambiguous or neutral events as negative ones.”
Personally, I have felt the effects of consuming too much news before I even started researching for this post, and the information Dr. Davey shared is similar to what I experience. At risk of being super vulnerable, I’m going to share three main things that happen to me:
- My anxiety intensifies. Additionally, I have obsessive compulsion components to my anxiety which make this even harder because I have a hard time ‘turning off’ my anxious thoughts
- I want to stay in my comfort zone/places I feel safe (ex. not wanting to go to certain places, do certain things out of fear which I know is no way to live)
- I want to shut down and turn away (which logically is not something I want to do because I know I can take some action!)
- I get into the mindset that there are so many terrible people and things happening in the world, and that the world is going to sh*t (again – logically I know this isn’t true, we just hear about things so much more often because of social media, constantly being connected, etc). ***If you find yourself in this same mindset, know that I do not actually believe this is true – there are so many good people and love in this world – truly, there are.***
So how have I protected myself from the constant news cycle yet still remain informed? I follow all of the tips below. Really, I do! Read on to find out 8 ways to detach from the news but still stay informed.
Pick 1-2 news channel to follow & unfollow the rest
Take a few minutes out of your day today, go through all your social media accounts, and unfollow all news channels except one (if you don’t want to follow any – that is OK too!). I used to follow all our the local tv channel accounts, all the local newspaper accounts, and multiple national and world news accounts. That. Was. Way. Too. Many.
After I unfollowed all of them, I selected one local and one world news account to follow on only ONE of my social media accounts (Facebook). That way, if I know there is a big news story hitting the media on a certain day, I can just avoid going on Facebook for some time. And by only following one or two news stations, I know that I won’t necessarily be bombarded by the story over and over throughout my entire newsfeed.
Turn off Notifications/Uninstall Apps
If you have certain news apps downloaded on your phone, either turn off notifications or delete the app altogether. I may be biased because I don’t have notifications set for any of my apps, but this is the way to go. Why? Because YOU get to choose when you see certain news stories. YOU get to decide when you want to read about something that may be hard to take in. YOU get to mentally prepare yourself for what you may read about. This is huge. If you’re constantly being bombarded with notifications, especially notifications about bad things happening, you immediately go into ‘reaction’ mode (constantly running around reacting to what’s going on around you) instead of being intentional about how you decide to react to what’s going on around you. See the difference? Which one sounds better?
If you get news notifications via email and don’t want to unsubscribe, a great free tool is called ‘Unroll Me’. I’ve been using this program for years, and I absolutely love it. Basically, you link your inbox and choose which emails you want to ‘roll up’ into a daily digest, and which emails you want to have delivered straight into your inbox. You can also instantly unsubscribe to any emails in the program! In relation to the news emails, choose to have them rolled up into a daily digest which you will get the morning of the following day.
I will note that Unroll.me has received some flack lately for selling data. Here is an article about it with an alternative option. The information didn’t stop me from keeping my account, but I thought I would share just in case you want to avoid the service.
Limit watching and listening to the news
Pick a few minutes out of your day to listen to, read, or watch the headlines. Pick a time where you can focus on what you’re consuming so you feel like you’re really absorbing the content so you don’t have to keep going back and rereading things.
I’ve talked about TheSkimm before in this post but I feel like it’s worth mentioning again. TheSkimm is really the only main news source I regularly consume. TheSkimm is a daily email (M-F) with the previous days biggest headlines. They give about a paragraph explanation of detail, with additional links if you want more information. I find that the explanation they give is enough information for me to feel like I’m informed and can hold a conversation but not so much that I feel overwhelmed. I would highly recommend it if you’re trying to cut back on your news consumption.
Take a break if needed
If you find yourself feeling really overwhelmed, even after implementing all the tips I mentioned above, don’t feel bad if you need to completely detach and take a break. I know I’ve had too many times. Don’t give yourself a deadline as to when you have to get back into it. Check in with yourself after a couple days and see how you are feeling. AND, by implementing the tips above, it will be even easier to completely detach to give yourself the break you need. Remember, if you’re feeling stressed out, anxious and overwhelmed from the news, those feelings are going to leak over into other areas of your life. Give yourself some time for some self-care to reset!
If you’re interested in learning more about how to detox from social media/news/phone use/etc, check out my post on the topic here.
Focus on one or two things you can do
When I hear about terrible things happening, I often feel motivated to take action in any way I can to help. Depending on the event, the action varies. Maybe it’s contacting my local representative. Maybe it’s donating to a charity that assists victims. Whatever it is, helping where I can makes me feel like I’m actually doing something about it, and that gives me a mental boost.
If you are looking for ideas on ways to help, check out my compilation of organizations, charities, etc that assist during natural disasters (they also assist in other times as well). Additionally, there is a link for a charitable organization checker – so you can research a particular organization to see how much money they actually donate.
Pray, send love, send positive vibes, random act of kindness etc.
After taking your actionable steps as listed above, if you feel compelled, send out some positivity, kindness, and love into the world. Commit some random acts of kindness. We may feel somewhat limited as to what we can do, but we can always provide others with love and kindness. It is so easy, takes little effort, but makes a huge impact.
How do you disconnect from constant news? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
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