How Constant Exposure to News Impacts Our Mental Health

How Constant Exposure to News Impacts Our Mental Health
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Let’s face it. We love news. We just can’t get enough of it, no matter if it’s good, bad, or worse.

Admit it, most of us are hooked on news, and sometimes, we desperately look out for the latest updates. We don’t care where it comes from – our neighbors, social media, TV, or the old-fashioned newspaper.

And if we go too long without any news, we start feeling uneasy.

We are hungry for controversial news — those news items that provide juicy, controversial stories that involve celebrities and public figures.

We are hungry for news that aligns with our beliefs and worldviews — it’s like an ego boost!

We love fear-mongering news.

And let’s not forget about the propaganda news that the government’s IT cells love to spread.

Every evening, during prime time, those news channel anchors start shouting like there’s no tomorrow, demanding our full attention – and they succeed, darn it!

Sure, it’s important to stay informed about current events, but too much news can mess with our heads big time.

In this blog, we’re going to dig into the effects of this non-stop news consumption and talk about some strategies to stay sane.

The Downside of Too Much News

When you are exposed to an excessive amount of news content, there is a negative impact on your mental well-being . Here are some key points to elaborate on this topic:

News is Equal to Information Overload

It’s a fact that our minds have limits! We can’t keep bombarding them with non-stop news and expect everything to be A-okay.

The main job of news outlets is to constantly bombard you with news throughout the day. Can you handle all of this information? No, you can’t.

News outlets love to shove information down our throats all day long, but let’s be honest – we can’t handle it all. Information overload is real, and it messes with our ability to process and understand what we’re hearing or seeing.

Our poor minds struggle to make sense of the avalanche of information thrown at us.

The Dark Side of News is Stress and Anxiety

Too much news, especially negative news, is bad for your mental health. Such news can significantly increase your stress and anxiety levels.

News outlets use drama and try to sensationalize some news stories to evoke fear and uncertainty in your minds. And when we constantly expose ourselves to distressing information, we become overwhelmed and feel powerless.

You become anxious about everything, from the state of the world to our personal lives, and it happens without a second thought.

One relevant study was conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2018. The study found that more than half of Americans reported that following the news causes them stress, and many said they find the news to be overwhelming.

News Give Rise to Negative Thought Patterns

Do you think our mind remain positive when we consume negative news?

No.

When you constantly see negative news, your beliefs become pessimistic and they trigger a cycle of negative thinking. You feel sad, irritated, or angry towards certain people, government, or countries.

News outlets run distressing and negative stories day and night. Consuming this much negative information and obsessively thinking about them can shape your perception of the world.

Your worldview changes, it can become pessimistic, and your outlook can become skewed and overly negative.

News Bring About Emotional Fatigue and Desensitization

Your mind alters when you excessively consume news that showcases violence, disasters, tragedy, societal issues, or human suffering.

You feel emotional fatigue. You become desensitized.

As we repeatedly expose ourselves to more and more distressing images and videos, our emotional responses become dull. We become less and less empathetic. This can lead to emotional detachment, affecting our relationships and our ability to connect with others on an emotional level.

News Has a Big Impact on Sleep and Rest

Checking out the news, especially before bedtime, messes with our sleep patterns.

Do you think you’ll sleep like a baby after watching something disturbing? No, you won’t be able to. Such news triggers negative emotions or anxiety.

You will start thinking about the news content. You will feel restless and face difficulties falling asleep. This, in turn, can further impact our mental health and overall well-being.

News Decreases Productivity

Constantly checking for updates multiple times during our work time decreases our productivity.

We scroll through news feeds on our devices. Every notification or screen illumination distracts us and demands our attention. Our focus gets diverted. After spending some time on the distraction, we find it difficult to concentrate and focus again on our work.

You may find it harmless that you spend a couple of minutes only on a news update. But the reality is, you spend more time regaining your focus.

If you lose focus multiple times during your work time, you can understand how much time you will waste. By doing so, you are decreasing your productivity and showcasing your inability to prioritize tasks.

According to a research article published in The Guardian1, spending even around 40 minutes per day to check news updates, can result in loss of at least half a day every week.

News Increases Negativity Bias

Negativity sells and attracts more attention. Therefore, news outlets focus more on negative events or crisis to generate higher viewership.

When you constantly consume negative news, it can shape your thinking patterns and contribute to a negativity bias. You seek more negative news and stories and overlook positive aspects.

When you get affected by the negativity bias, you restrict your creative thinking. You limit the range of possibilities you can consider. You restrict your worldviews and perspectives.

For most folks, no news is good news;
for the press, good news is not news.

— Gloria Borger

News Spreads Propaganda

News outlets are private entities and can spread propaganda for money and other personal benefits, most of them.

If certain news outlets constantly spread positive news and stories about an incapable political leader in power, many viewers subconsciously start to believe on those stories.

Such viewers start to see only one side of a coin and stop looking for real facts. They start to see that political leader with rosy eyes. It’s not good for a country and its citizens.

This again tells us that news spreads biases.

News is Addiction

When someone consumes news media excessively and compulsively, that individual is suffering from news addiction.

News addicts get a dopamine rush when they consume news and experience pleasure. This dopamine rush gives them a temporary high, especially when they come across shocking or sensational news. To sustain that high, they keep watching such news media.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is another reason they constantly check for news updates. They become restless and anxious if they don’t check for updates. This habit of constantly checking for updates can lead to news addiction.

To make my point, news addiction is bad for our mental health and well-being.

News is to the mind what sugar is to the body.

— Rolf Dobelli

So, What Can You Do About News to Remain Sane?

Photo by Cottonbro Studio on Pexels

To manage the overwhelming nature of constant news consumption, consider the following strategies:

1. Decide What News to Consume Consciously

You should focus on what type of news you want to read or watch. Consume only those news items that can satisfy your interests and needs.

If there are multiple news outlets, you need not to go through all of them just because you are curious. Prioritize quality over quantity.

Read and watch only those news outlets that provide reliable, unbiased, and trusted news. You won’t get any benefits or real information from consuming news where anchors are shouting at their guests or showing one-sided debates on a topic.

2. Set Boundaries

When we consume news, we generally ignore time and don’t limit ourselves. Until we realise how much time we have wasted, it’s too late.

Establish time limits on consuming news. Prioritize your tasks first and determine at what time intervals you can check for news updates. As a result, you will prevent yourself from constant news monitoring and allow yourself dedicated periods of rest and disengagement.

3. Practice Critical Thinking

In today’s world, people spread fake news and propagandas through news outlets. So, do you instantly believe what you see, or do you fact-check them?

It is important to develop your media literacy skills so that you can evaluate news sources better. Fact-check the news you are consuming and analyze if those are coming from credible or unreliable sources.

If you watch something and immediately set your perspectives according to it, it’s not good for you. Better to check for multiple perspectives, so that you can understand a given topic comprehensively.

4. Go Deeper

Don’t rely solely on headlines or brief news summaries, because you will not understand the whole context most of the time.

It’s always better to go deepr into articles or reports. By doing so, you will understand the context, analysis, or viewpoints better. You will get better insights into complex issues.

5. Take Breaks and Practice Self-Care

Many times, while watching news, you may notice that you are feeling overwhelmed.

Instead of continuing to watch news, it’s better to take a break and go out for a walk or do something else that can relax you, like yoga, meditation, or talking to your loved ones.

Engaging in such activities will reduce the effect of information overload on your mind, and you will be able to restore balance.

Final Thoughts

Staying informed is essential, but you must be mindful that excessive news consumption impacts your mental health.

Be conscious of your news consumption habits. Practice critical thinking. Take breaks to practice self-care.

You can strike a healthy balance between staying informed and protecting your mental well-being.

It’s time to navigate the world of news responsibly and foster a positive relationship with the information that surrounds us.

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By Rajesh Sharma

Rajesh Sharma is a freelance IT Consultant who have found his new passion in writing. On this blog, he writes about Social Experiences and shares tips on improving them.

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