It seems everywhere you look these days, there’s bad news. People on either side of the political spectrum hate each other and constantly argue. People are dying, having accidents, and becoming the victims of a variety of different crimes. Some believe we may even be on the brink of war. Sometimes it feels like you might be going crazy. Well, that might not be far from the truth. It turns out, constant exposure to negativity in the news can have a number of detrimental effects on your mental health. Here’s a look at why, and what you can do to prevent it.
Why the News Causes Stress
Even if the world around us isn’t actively crumbling, the news often portrays things as if it is. Things like crime, death, and other tragedies tend to sell better than stories about the positive events going on around us, so the depressing slant is often a result of sensationalism.
Objectively we know that, at least to some degree, but the feeling of doom remains difficult to shake. It turns out, the more detail there is in a news story, the closer to home it hits, regardless of how likely it actually is to happen to us personally.
For instance, the likelihood that a riot is going to break out in your neighborhood is probably very small. But when you hear reports or rioting in the news, complete with vivid accounts of violence and destruction, it can increase your overall sense of dread, even if those riots are on the other side of the world.
This effect has been exacerbated in recent years by the increasing prevalence of video clips depicting the events of a story firsthand. By seeing things unfold, we get more emotionally invested in what’s going on. Experts believe that the more video and picture-based news we consume, the more it leads to stress and depression in our own lives.
What to Do About It
Between your job, your family obligations, and other issues, chances are you have enough stress in your life without making things worse with news of other people’s problems. Still, the problem is getting worse.
Studies show that around 66% of people experience the physical effects of stress, and 44% feel more stressed than they did five years ago. If left unchecked, it can cause heart disease, insomnia, weight problems, immune system deficiencies, and much more.
So what can you do to eliminate, or at least counteract the effects of the news cycle in your life? First, be proactive. Limit how much time you spend on news outlets. It’s important to stay informed, but anything done to excess can be harmful.
Stop actively seeking out negative news stories. When you do encounter them, immediately follow up by searching for a positive story that can help balance things out. There are plenty of statistics about how the world in general is improving and things are getting better for most people. But that information doesn’t sell as well, so the news tends to make things look worse than they are.
Stress is everywhere, and if you don’t do anything about it, eventually it can kill you. The news cycle can be addictive at times, but the negative effects it has on you, both mentally and physically, aren’t worth it. By limiting your news intake and focusing more on positive stories, you’ll have one less thing to worry about. And you’ll be a healthier, happier, more balanced human being because of it.