Let’s face it… there is a lot of really good reasons to tune in to news right now. Staying current on the latest developments with the COVID-19 pandemic, learning more about the protests and unrest in your area, as well as the election primaries. However, is there such a thing as media overload? The simple answer to this is YES.
I remember as a child my parents would get their news once a day – usually the 5pm local broadcast with the occasional addition of reading of the local newspaper. My grandparents imbibed the local news a couple of times the day and the occasional watching of the national morning shows that offered more entertainment than actual substance.
Also, our televisions stopped broadcasting anything other than the latest and greatest infomercial after the 11 pm news broadcast or (showing my age here) went off the air completely following the daily playing of the national anthem with the obligatory still photo of the American flag.
Long gone are the days where we watch and take in current events on a set schedule. We get immediate notifications on our smartphones when a news update is released. We can sign up to be notified when a specific name or topic is trending. We have news channels that devote their entire 24 hours a day to the news.
If we so desire we could literally sit and watch news ALL DAY LONG.
In light of our global pandemic and the ongoing protests for racial equality, it may even feel like it is your duty to remain plugged into the 24/7 news cycle.
However, the constant intake of news and media is hard on us both emotionally and psychologically. It’s important to stay informed and make thoughtful life decisions based upon that information.
However, it is important to protect your own psyche as well.
Here are some signs that a break from media might be warranted:
- You find yourself unable to think of anything other than news stories
- Reading or watching news articles causes you increased anxiety or depression that does not resolve with concentrated effort
- You find that much of your time is spent reading or watching news with little breaks and you focus on little else.
If you find that you are experiencing some of the above warning signs I suggest you try a few of the following:
- Set specific times in which you will read or watch news stories. Perhaps even set a timer to ensure that you are utilizing healthy boundaries.
- Turn off news alerts on your smartphone so you are not frequently distracted by the latest influx of information.
- Engage in light hearted activities – read a book, connect with a friend, watch a funny show or movie. This allows our brains to mentally hit reset and rebalance after we have had intake of news information.
- Ensure that you receive your news from reputable sources to avoid confusion or psychological upset when it is not warranted. Avoid getting your news information from social media and instead go directly to news sources to ensure that your information is accurate and informed.
I know this is a vital time to make sure you are aware and up to date on the things that are going on in your world. However, approaching information gathering with your best interest in mind ensures that you are able to absorb the information and take action appropriately in a way that is healthy for everyone.