A News Media Diet: Repeated Viewing of Tragedies Is Bad for Your Mental Health
We’ve seen a string of horrific events unfold in the U.S. and abroad over the last several weeks and months. It seems that before we’ve buried people who have died in one event, another incident is occurring before us on the news. Beyond the events themselves, the twenty four hour news cycle and immediacy of information available through the internet contribute to the overwhelming nature of our world today.
Specifically, shootings have become so commonplace that the American Psychological Association (APA) has a dedicated page on its website titled, “Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting.” Their recommendations include turning off the coverage of the event and taking a break as well as striving for balance over focusing on one negative event and extrapolating it to apply to the entire world as a whole. With recent events occurring back to back, this is easier said than done. It could be important for your mental health, though, as one group of researchers found higher stress responses in people who watched extended media coverage of an event than the individuals who were directly involved in the event. Especially, if you have previously experienced trauma which can increase your risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms from simple repeated viewing of these events on television.
Restricting your news intake by going on a news media diet is a positive step you can take if you are struggling with the weight of these terrible events. Turn off the news radio, and listen to music instead. Try to avoid viewing the twenty four hour news channels, but, if you do, limit it. Resolve to turn off the television at a particular time and go for a walk. Interacting with nature and people in your local area will reveal the simultaneous positive aspects of life. Disconnect your newsfeed settings on your smart phone. Take back control, and decide when and where you will digest the news of the day. Let’s start our news media diet today!