It is no secret that as human beings, we are always aware of and absorbing what we see and hear all around us; what we do absorb — whether willingly or unwillingly — can have either a negative or positive effect. Among one of the more notorious stressors is the news. In times of great duress and uncertainty, the news has been essential in providing us with information to help people navigate the “new normal.” Still, it has also become a triggering source in regards to things we cannot control. Therefore, the news might leave us feeling helpless.
Some refer to this as “Headline Stress Disorder.” While this term might seem trendy, to its basics, it implies that continual alerts from news sources, blogs, social media, and alternative facts seem to provide an out-of-context smattering of information. Such information works in creating stress, anxiety, and depression. Feeling low due to “word pain” can cause you to develop a sense of world-weariness. However, you might have a chance to flip the script when you start looking at what you can control rather than what you cannot.
What Happens When Anxiety Accompanies the News?
Helping to manage your “negative news feelings” can benefit from knowing what happens when the anxiety presents itself after reading triggering headlines. If engaging with the news creates stress, your body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Each can take a toll on your immune system, causing headaches and even disrupting sleep. If you are someone who likes to begin the day with listening or reading the news, you might be plunging into negative feelings right off the go. Starting your day with a sense of anxiety can color your entire day, signaling to your body that things are not safe and that it needs to be on high alert.
However, when you can take control over what you introduce your psyche to first thing in the morning, you can influence how your body responds for the rest of the day. Instead of starting your day by listening to the news or scrolling social media, try listening to jazz or classical music. Studies have shown that, in general, browsing social media and the news within the first hour of waking can send your brain response into reactionary mode, which can cause you to feel unsettled all day long.
Reduce the Amount of News
Maybe you're a glutton for bad news because you're a “worrier” and therefore need reassurance. However, looking to news for relief only stands to perpetuate and confirm unfounded thoughts and beliefs that stem from stress and paranoia. Rarely will you ever find the reassuring headline you want; you might not even know what that is or looks like because you are preoccupied with combing the news under a stressful eye.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and therefore reducing the amount of news you ingest can lend peace to your day and life. Instead of perpetuating your stress and anxiety with news, substitute the time you dedicate watching, listening, or reading the news to listening to or reading a book. You could also participate in healthier outlets like writing or playing music. If you want to socialize, it's okay to set boundaries by telling your friend or family member that news is off-limits. Over time, you will find that you are more in control of your day and life than you thought while simultaneously putting your time and energy into healthy outlets.
How Do You Consume the News?
If you still need the news, try becoming more mindful about what you consume. Choosing a trusted news source that provides daily news allows you to choose what you want to read and skip what you don't want to read without receiving multiple updates throughout your day. You can also set the preferences on all your social media apps to turn off notifications.
You can even take things a step further and remove all social media outlets from your phone, including the web browser and shopping apps. Taking this approach will help reduce the number of times you check your phone — the temptation of seeing the latest headline or the latest eBay offer will no longer be an option.
Sometimes taking these simple steps makes it hard to motivate us to open up the laptop or sit at the desktop. There is not usually anything so important that it needs to interrupt you from what you are currently doing. The news does not always need to mean current affairs; you can find great stimulation from the news reading about things that interest you — psychology, astrology, sports, music, etc.
Listen to Yourself
If you are already anxious or have a low mood, hearing negative news is not likely to help. It is essential to look after your needs. Taking time to meditate, practice yoga, or mindfulness helps bring you in touch with how you feel and can help bring balance to yourself. Keeping a consistent sleep and eating schedule keeps you from developing other harmful habits that might accompany the stress after reading the news, such as stress eating or staying up late to find the perfect article to soothe your mind. Balance and easing your mind start within, and this takes being able to listen to your needs and attend to them. When you nurture yourself and maintain positive connections, the narrative presented by the news becomes less daunting.
News stories are likely to create stress and inevitably inject every conversation. Remember, it is okay to engage or not engage based on your level of comfort. At START UP RECOVERY, we understand that worrying over the headlines can create a lot of stress and extra noise in your life, and sometimes you need to pause to reassess and reset. At START UP, we offer the environment to do so. We provide comfortable, secure, and judge-free settings geared toward helping individuals develop the confidence and network to handle the stresses presented in both personal and professional environments. If the news is stressing you out, we are here 24/7 to make sure you have someone and somewhere to turn to for help. Your mental and physical wellbeing should always be your top priority; it all begins with taking the first step toward your recovery. To learn more, call 310-773-3809.