These days, it can be a unique challenge to escape stress and anxiety triggered by the media and news. All around us, we’re barraged with the latest tragedies in our backyards, nation, and around the world. No sooner has the latest tragic news been born than we’re reading about it, it’s hitting our notifications or someone shares it with us.
We instinctively tell ourselves that regular media consumption is what “responsible citizens” do. But what if we weren’t meant to constantly consume so much content filled to the brim with negativity, fear, distrust, and even hate? What if in seeking to be responsibly informed, our need to maintain good mental wellness regularly falls along the wayside?
In his “Psychology Today” article entitled The Psychological Impact of Negative News, Graham C.L. Davey Ph.D. shares the following:
“The way that news is reported has changed significantly over the last 10-20 years. Nowadays we can hardly avoid it, many of us actively feel the need to seek it out, and its modern-day tone is increasingly emotive, it’s medium increasingly visual and shocking, and its commentaries increasingly negative and fear-laden.”
In light of this, it’s possible you’re guarding your gates for potential enemies to mental wellness. But at the same time, you could be letting those gates wide open to the potential enemy of negative news. Here are some ways to combat stress and anxiety symptoms made worse by ruminating on negative news.
Remember the “Sky Isn’t Falling” Everywhere
There may be twisters in Alabama, but it may be sunny in Connecticut or SoCal, for that matter. Those abundant sunny days don’t get a lot of press, if any, though. Most of the time, things really need to hit the fan for that to happen. If you’re wondering how to relieve stress and anxiety in your life, remember the sky isn’t falling everywhere.
The news stories we encounter daily tend to explore the most inhumane, desperate, and even gruesome stories humanity has to offer. An over-focus on themes like that can make us begin to believe that this depth of chaos exists everywhere we look all the time. And they can even lead to PTSD for viewers who watch too much increasingly graphic news content.
That leads to a lot of unnecessary anxiety and stress. Indeed, we should be concerned about other people around us. At the same time, it’s healthy and wise to remember things generally aren’t nearly as bad as they’re portrayed in the media. News media companies need to find stories that will sell to stay in business, so the more sensational the story, the better in many cases.
As the saying goes, “If a dog bites a man, that’s not news. But if a man bites a dog, now that’s news.” As far as I know, though, there aren’t too many people “biting dogs.” So, yes, stay informed, but avoid allowing yourself to believe that absolute crisis exists all around you. Much of that sort of thing is churned up to make sales and generate clicks or views.
Somewhere, your Aunt Edna is sitting at a coffee shop joking with her friends. They’re having a good old time, but no one will likely ever bring their cameras in there to cover a calm, cheerful story like that. Remember that one good stress and anxiety relief strategy is to remind yourself that the situation around you likely isn’t nearly as bad as it is portrayed.
Seek Out Positive News and Share It
It’s a well-known fact that we tend to seek out bad news. There’s something addictive and intriguing about human tragedy. That’s why it sells so well. But what if you started saying no to your unhealthy addiction to bad news.
What if, instead, you began seeking out positive and happy news stories. And what if you started only sharing positive news stories with co-workers, family, and friends.
I’m not saying this so you’ll stick your head in the sand and no longer care about or notice human suffering anymore. It’s is vital that we attend to those critical matters any way we can. At the same time, you and those around you already receive enough terrible news without even trying.
As a result, work at being more intentional about spreading good news. Read the story about the boy with autism who’s raising money for a local charity. Or, about the college girl who rescued someone from drowning. Or, about someone who overcame drug addiction and started a business. Then, share those stories with others.
Begin focusing your energy more on stories like this. You’ll likely see a significant improvement in your anxiety and stress symptoms and you’ll also help others around you from feeling stress so acutely.
Guard Your Time
In other words, stay informed but don’t let the media control your life, time, or mental energy. News consumption often eats up a considerable amount of time that could be spent with family and friends. Fill the majority of your free time doing activities that improve your life and the lives around you.
Sure, stay informed. But consider setting a daily limit on your news consumption or take a break from it all together. Turn off your news notifications and take a walk or take up a hobby instead of immersing yourself in negative news. Sometimes, figuring out how to deal with stress and anxiety better is as simple as cutting out unnecessary activities that only waste your time and stress you out.
Learn to Think Independently
Also, strive to rise above divisive narratives. Some media stories can make you feel like you have to pick sides. Learn to think independently and non-judgmentally. Walk away with increased goodwill for others rather than division and hate.
Just practicing a calmer, more accepting attitude toward others will lower your symptoms of stress and anxiety. You’ll also help those around you feel a little less anxious!
Are You Experiencing High Stress and Anxiety Levels?
If so, discovering anxiety and stress relief methods can make a big difference. But that can often be difficult to initially figure out on your own. If you’d to learn proven ways to manage stress and anxiety, the OC Relationship Center can help you do just that.
You’re welcome to contact us to find out more about our services. You can also book an appointment with an anxiety and stress counselor.