This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
It’s an understatement to say that a lot is going on in the world. The planet has been engulfed in numerous tragedies and stressful situations over the past few years, and sometimes it feels like it will never end. And though these situations are tragic and scary, their coverage by news outlets and social media has not made it much easier to cope.
Though it’s good to be informed and aware of what is happening globally, divulging constant news coverage is detrimental to mental health. Furthermore, analyzing every detail or minor update causes additional stress and is hardly beneficial. As a result, many people are struggling more than they need to simply because they aren’t creating healthy boundaries with news coverage or social media updates.
If this is the case for you, then read on to learn more about how current events coverage harms your mental health and how you can create boundaries to reduce the stress.
Adverse Effects Of Watching News Coverage
Many people glue themselves to the news or social media because they wish to be informed about what’s going on in the world. And though this is noble, unfortunately, too much distressing news can cause significant harm to one’s mental health. Below are some adverse effects of watching consistent news coverage.
People who watch the news report higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who don’t. This phenomenon is known as headline stress disorder, and it is becoming increasingly common as more people become absorbed in news and current events. This is because many people don’t know how to create boundaries with this media, so they remain immersed in distressing news stories all day long.
News outlets and social media are becoming increasingly comfortable showing graphic images to their viewers. And though these images may show just how serious a situation is, they can also develop trauma in some viewers.
Furthermore, being exposed to these images and videos repeatedly can actually cause someone to develop more trauma and stress than someone who experienced the event firsthand. In fact, some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder just by watching videos online instead of being a part of the situation. This is because the brain struggles to differentiate between photos, online videos, and real life. Therefore, it reacts to graphic images the same way it would respond if it saw the situation firsthand.
Aggression And Hostility
When frightening events occur, we often look for someone to blame or take responsibility. However, this isn’t an easy task because some situations arise with no apparent instigator (such as a natural disaster). However, this doesn’t stop people from speculating or creating their own “boogeymen.” The widespread occurrence of this phenomenon causes people to harass each other online to defend their opinions and beliefs about the situation. This can cause a sense of tribalism which can increase bullying, hostility, and aggression.
Worsen Mood Disorders
Many mood disorders create symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Since these symptoms are created and worsened by watching news coverage, this means that many people who live with mental health conditions may see their conditions worsen by exposing themselves to this media.
For more information on the adverse effects of news coverage as well as treatment options, you can find more resources at the link below:
Now, let’s move on to some strategies that can help create boundaries with negative news coverage.
How To Create Boundaries With Media Coverage
Even though watching the news can have some adverse consequences, it doesn’t mean that you should cut out all news coverage completely. After all, it is essential to stay informed, especially if an event or crisis affects you directly. However, it is best to create some boundaries with news coverage so that you are not unnecessarily overwhelmed. Here are a few ideas to help you make those boundaries.
- Limit your usage: In most cases, you don’t need to be up to date with a situation 24/7. Though it can be tempting to check every app or social media notification, this doesn’t mean that you have to. Limit your usage by blocking off times when you don’t touch your phone or allotting only a specific amount of time to check the news each day.
- Focus on facts, not analysis or commentary: When a global crisis occurs, it is vital to seek out the news to get facts about the situation. This is critical because facts will help you navigate the situation, stay healthy, or even alive. However, many news stations and social media platforms are biased in their reporting. They may add commentary or analysis that is not helpful or based on facts. Be aware of this and seek sources that focus only on facts, not bias.
- Find positive news stories: No matter what is going on, there is always some positive news related to significant events. Seek out positive or joyful news stories to remind you that there is light even in the darkest of situations.
- Partake in self-care: When taking breaks from news coverage or social media, use that time to care for your mental health. Get some rest, eat a nutritious meal, meditate, or enjoy a calming activity. Make sure to take care of your body and mind, and you will be more resilient to navigate the current challenge.
With so much going on in the world, it can be tempting to be on social media or watch the news 24/7. We may feel a sense of duty to keep up with all the updates and read about every detail of the situation. However, this is rarely necessary and can cause significant mental distress. By being aware of how news reporting can affect your mental health, you can take control to set boundaries and limits and remain informed without affecting your health.