The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
With so many significant events occurring worldwide, it’s no wonder why everyone is hooked on the news. And with most people getting their news coverage from social media, everyone is getting instant access to breaking news 24/7, 365 days a year.
Though it is important to be informed of what is happening on our planet, obsessing over the news is not good for one’s mental health. Those who keep up with traumatic and stressful news stories often experience increased trauma, stress, and worsening mental health conditions than those who create healthy boundaries with news coverage. It’s the mental health epidemic that few are talking about, and it seems only to be getting worse.
So, if you are experiencing stress or other mental health concerns from watching the news and keeping up with social media, you are certainly not alone. But what can be done about this? This article discusses in detail the harms of constant news coverage as well as some tips on how to cope with the stress.
The Mental Health Consequences Of Too Much News Coverage
There’s probably a good explanation as to why the world is getting angrier and more stressed out these days. It seems that everyone is glued to their screens, analyzing every detail of breaking news stories and unfolding events. It also doesn’t help that time seems to have sped up with a century’s worth of events only happening within the past few years.
As you can imagine, all these situations have a toll on the collective mental health of the world. Let’s dive into some of those effects and how they occur.
The news has been a wonderful tool in recent years as it helps us witness important historical events as they unfold. However, there can be severe consequences if those events happen to be traumatic.
One of the flaws of the human brain is that when witnessing something onscreen, it has a hard time realizing that the event is not happening directly to it. Therefore, if we witness a horrendous event unfold live on the news, our brains believe and respond as though we are in the middle of it.
Because of this, many people develop trauma symptoms from consistently watching the news during distressing events. In fact, research shows that many people develop either the same or even worse trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms than those who witnessed the same traumatic events in person. This is not only due to how our brains respond to watching stressful situations on our screens but also may be amplified by the fact that we tend to rewatch those videos repeatedly. We are willingly reliving the traumatic episode over and over again.
Unfortunately, most news is negative. By watching or reading it endlessly throughout the day, you are bound to be a bit on edge. These events and the analysis and commentary that come with them can make life seem hopeless and chaotic. This inevitably can be overwhelming to experience and will cause stress levels to skyrocket.
Worsening Of Certain Mental Health Conditions
Having a mental health condition can already be painful enough, but adding a significant amount of stress and anxiety will only worsen it. When people consume distressing news, they are more likely to experience stress, anxiety, depression, and irritation. These are already common symptoms of some of the most prevalent mental illnesses and will only worsen when exposed to distressing content.
Tips For Coping With Stress From Current Events Coverage
Since the stress that comes with watching the news is so pervasive, many professionals and ordinary people alike are finding ways to cope and treat the stress while still remaining informed. Below are a few of those tips to help you cope with headline stress.
Limit News Consumption
The best way to reduce your headline stress is by looking at the headlines less. Though you may be tempted to stay informed over every breaking detail, this is not only unnecessary but unhelpful to your health. Therefore, you need to find a healthy balance of staying informed without going overboard.
For example, some people may benefit from using a timer when they read the news online. Doing this gives you plenty of time to read the important information without getting bogged down in the detail, analysis, commentary, and toxic discourse. Others choose to be selective of their news and social media notifications, only being notified when something major is breaking. There are many options available to you to help you reduce your news consumption without completely disengaging from what’s happening in the world.
Avoid Topics That Trigger You
Once again, this doesn’t mean you should put your head in the sand and pretend these events aren’t occurring. If certain situations or events are triggering you, then that means they are important and deserve attention.
However, once again, you need to filter what you consume. That means while maybe you should read an article or two about a recent current event, you don’t need to sign up for constant updates or join every subreddit or Twitter thread that discusses the subject. Therefore, instead of finding ways to engage in discussion around certain topics, look for healthy ways to create boundaries with those subjects.
Utilize Stress Management Techniques
As with any stressor, it’s best to have some coping techniques on hand. Simple techniques such as self-care, breathwork, meditation, or socializing can do wonders for your mental health during stressful world events. So if you find yourself overwhelmed with what’s going on in the world, take a few minutes for yourself. Find a calming activity, talk with a friend, or simply take a few breaths. Just a few minutes can help you release the tension and bring you back to a state of calm.
Talk To Someone
Let’s face it: the world is a scary and chaotic place right now. Some situations and events are too big and overwhelming to limit or ignore. Though walking away from your computer screen does help, your stress may not completely go away.
If this is the case, then it is best to talk to a mental health professional about your stress or anxiety. Sometimes, just talking to someone can help release the stress and tension that you hold. However, a therapist can be more than just someone to talk to. They can help you adapt better stress management strategies and help you find ways to hope and remain optimistic. If worldwide events are distressing you, your therapist will be compassionate and understanding. They can help you gain perspective on the issue so that you can observe what’s going on without letting it significantly harm your mental health.
It’s noble for anyone to stay informed of major worldwide events. However, with so many significant events and situations occurring, there seems to be distressing news nonstop. Consuming this information can cause serious harm to one’s mental health without proper boundaries and coping strategies in place. However, you can learn to stay informed without hurting your mental health by practicing self-care, talking to someone, and limiting your news consumption.
To learn more about current events and how to manage the stress that comes from them, you can find more resources here.