Today you’re going to learn how to deal with news anxiety. Regardless of who you are, where you live your politics we’re all struggling to deal with the news. And for many of us it produces a lot of stress and anxiety.
The American Psychological Association does this yearly report on stress in America and
what they found in their most recent report is Gen Z – young people growing up right now,
they are having an even more difficult time dealing with the news and the big conflicts and problems that are happening in the world it’s impacting them much more than it’s impacted previous then it is impacting other generations.
So why is this happening?
Well one of the things you have to remember is anxiety is fueled by uncertainty, when we
don’t know what’s happened or what is going to happen. It’s often going to lead to anxiety and the news is full of uncertainty.
We’ve so rarely know the full story and we never know how a story is going to play out
in the future. And so many of us when we have uncertainty a drive might be to try to get more certainty, so we might try to read more. Even though all the stories are full of uncertainty there’s we we we don’t know how things are going to play out with with the gun debate in the United States or with the Robert Mueller probe or with our changing climate.
These are big complicated issues you can’t get more certainty by reading more articles.
It’s not going to happen. We kind of need to wait for time to play itself out to see how these stories are going to play out.
One of the changes that’s happened is we’re surrounded by these stories everywhere. You go back a few decades and it used to be that you’d only get news from the evening news on TV or in more recent times from CNN Fox News stuff like that cable news and now or newspaper or news magazines.
Now it’s not just TV and more traditional media but it’s your phone, you can get news stories all the time and you can get alerts sent and news organizations have really optimized for clicks. So, they’re really good at writing headlines that get you to feel an emotion and make you want to click.
How to deal with news anxiety:
I wanted to talk to you about four things you can do right now to reduce your news anxiety and I can start with the most important one, which is…
1. Turn off your notifications
Turn off your notifications for the news apps that you follow, unsubscribe to those news alerts on your e-mail. Get rid of all the ways that news gets pushed to you outside of your control.
Breaking news happens at all hours of the day and usually when it’s breaking news. That’s when we have the least idea of what’s happening. So, most uncertainty when you have notifications turned on you are turning over control of your emotions to these apps and to the journalistic institutions behind them.
And again, remember, they’re optimize to get you to click, so maybe it’s 12:30 in the morning, you’re trying to fall asleep, it’s past midnight and you get a news alert. And then you see it and you’re like wait what is happening. And then you click on it and then – now it’s like 20 minutes later – and you’re all worried about this crisis that’s playing out when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Turn off those alerts. You’re not missing anything. You’re not. You’re going to find out if there is a real urgent thing that you need to know of. You’ll find out you don’t need the alerts to turn to inform you of that stuff.
So turn off all those alerts. Turn off all those notifications.
2. Only check news at certain points in the day.
So you want to set up some kind of routine, where you are giving yourself time and space and emotional energy to read the news. I don’t really read news – I listen to the news more. I listen to certain podcasts as well as I listen to NPR One and I listen to their newscasts and I listen at two points in a day.
One is in the morning when I’m kind of getting ready to get to know what are the big things that are happening both in the world as well as my local community. And then number two – I listen to it after I’m done at work and when I start my commute home. That’s about it.
Every now and then I’ll do a deeper dive into a story if it’s somethin I feel like I should really know much more about. But those are the only times I really keep up with the news. I don’t check much during my workday, because to be able to focus on work and I don’t check much when I’m with my family and kids because I don’t want all that anxiety sidetracking me of being able to spend time with my family.
3. Go to trusted news sources and don’t rely on social media.
Social media the feed pushes forward stuff that’s really shareable that’s getting a lot of likes and getting a lot of shares. And what we know in research is the stuff that gets a lot of likes and shares is really emotional content.
So, if you’re relying on your social media feed for your news which many of us do, you’re
going to see the most emotionally activating stories – they’re going to be the ones that
are most difficult for you to see and read and hear and they’re going to be the ones
that get your blood boiling. So, related to my previous comment about only checking your check in the news at certain hours of the day.
Try not to get your news from social media. And if you are exploring your social media feed only do it at certain times in the day, when you’re ready to deal with whatever you see in the feed.
The other thing about trusted news sources is there a little bit less likely to create really emotionally compelling stories that get you mad or get you angry. So, as much as you can go to only trusted news sources, and I know that brings up a whole debate about liberal versus conservative media. But even then, there are things that are more in the middle that are a bit less biased towards one end or the other and that write a bit less emotional content.
4. News free sleep routine.
So in that last hour before you’re going to sleep don’t look at the news. The news should not be a part of your sleep routine. Because that’s when you really need to start winding down. That’s when people need to start doing soothing activities things that calm their bodies down.
And while it’s very different for people what the soothing activities might be. If you struggle
with news anxiety, looking at the news, listening to news, watching it on YouTube, reading it on your app – that’s not going to help – is probably going to make it a lot harder for you to fall asleep and be full of more worries about what’s going on.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to deal with news anxiety. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.