The past two years have felt like one long cycle of stressful news; COVID-19, racial hate crimes, police brutality, a heated political climate, wars in some parts of the world, our favorite celebrities dying, a looming recession, mass shootings, rent rates soaring and most recently Roe Vs. Wade. We are continually exposed to on-the-minute news as everything happens at once which gives us no room to process and before we know it, we’re on to the next crisis.
You can simply log into any social media platform and come across disturbing stories, images or endless unhealthy exchanges about social issues. There are no boundaries to what your eyes can see because it’s right there in your face – people are talking about it. First-hand accounts of heinous crimes are online because it’s easy to record incidents now so we constantly get triggered even if we’re not physically present at a crime scene. The media is also guilty of doomsday headlines that have shock value and makes things appear worse than they are which worsens our anxiety and worry.
It’s important to stay informed in the digital age but not at the expense of your mental health. As it stands, we already have a mental health crisis with more than 52 million Americans reported to struggle with a mental illness. This is how you can protect your mental health in today’s stressful news cycle;
- Take breaks. Step away from the news once in a while or have a designated time when you check the news. Try not to go down a rabbit hole of information and stick to short periods when you want to be informed. Remember that you don’t have to read 10 news sites for a piece of information to be true – subscribe to the credible ones only.
- Use apps that stop you from doom-scrolling. How many times do you check your phone within the hour? It’s becoming increasingly hard to stop ourselves from checking notifications and logging in to see what the latest news is. Social media is the new addiction. The good news is that there are apps and browser extensions that limit the time you spend online. Check out this comprehensive list of apps.
- Instead of watching or reading the news directly, you can ask someone you trust to relay it to you. This saves you the nudge to check your phone for news stories. This is also good because you can process the news together instead of doing it alone especially when it’s extremely heavy news like mass shootings. However, this doesn’t mean that you constantly burden one person with the task of giving you information if they are not comfortable doing it.
- Go to your settings and switch off all notifications. A notification is like a temptation to go online and get the full scoop. Save yourself the little mini-heartbreaks from notifications and breaking news headlines. A notification is an invitation to go down a black hole of information that may very well end up wasting all your time – before you know it you’ve spent 3 hours just scrolling.
- I know how much you want to get your opinions heard but avoid online discourses that are not healthy. I remember how tired I was logging into Twitter and seeing all these exchanges between pro-lifers and pro-choice people after the supreme court decision in the Roe Vs. Wade case. I can’t imagine how much more tiring it is to exchange opinions and bully each other. The mental exhaustion from these debates is not worth your inner peace.
We are sucked more and more into an endless cycle of information with every new online invention. That might not change but how you use the platforms can. You can set the boundaries for yourself. If you have been gravely affected by stressful news and you fear that you may have developed a mental health illness from it, please reach out to us for therapy.