Chances are, if you are trying to stay up to speed on the news, much of what you’re seeing is about COVID-19. While we want you to be informed and aware of health orders because information surrounding the pandemic is constantly evolving, it’s also important to limit your bad news intake to protect your emotional health.
Did you know that too much bad news can be bad for you? Even short periods of negative news can bring about feelings of sadness and worry. Today’s news is on a 24-hour cycle, which is often geared toward keeping your attention. What’s more effective at keeping us glued to our seats—good news or bad news? You guessed it. Disaster reporting and negative headlines keep us watching, but those same headlines increase anxiety, worry, and stress.
Feeling stress over extended periods of time is hard on both our emotional and physical health. Some of the side effects of chronic stress can be poor sleep, headaches, nausea, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, jaw clenching, even panic attacks or depression.
Coping with stress in healthy ways is especially important during the pandemic, but many of the usual coping skills we have built into our routines are uncertain because of COVID-19. No longer is a simple social gathering or dinner and a movie quite so simple.
As we adapt and look for new ways to de-stress and cope, it’s important to find opportunities to focus on the good, amplify positive messages, and share hopeful stories with one another.
This also means that we must limit our bad news intake. Dr. Aditi Nerukar, an integrative medicine physician from Harvard Medical School, suggests, “Think of [news] like exercise…It’s good for you, right? But if you do it for hours on end, it becomes unhealthy.”
If you notice that the news is getting to you, it may be wise to keep your television or radio off and turn off news alerts on your phone. This will allow you to decide when you are ready to consume news, not the other way around.
It’s also important to rely on sources with the most accurate information and read or listen to them when you are not already stressed or worried. You can set a timer to limit your intake and ensure you don’t get drawn into news stories that lead to other news stories in a never-ending trail on social media. We recommend avoiding news right before bed so your sleep is not impacted.
If your stress levels are still heightened after turning off your news alerts and limiting your time spent consuming news, it might be a good idea to consider relying on a friend or partner who you trust to give you daily recaps of the most important health orders and updates.
At the end of the day, we must prioritize our own physical and emotional well-being. Across the world, we’ve accepted ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our physical health through social distancing, hand washing, and wearing face coverings. By minimizing our intake of negative and alarming news, we can actively prioritize our emotional well-being, as well.