Stop Watching the News

A friend of mine living in Los Angeles told me an interesting story.  This happened about 15 years ago.  He worked construction in the Hollywood area on higher end houses.  While on the job one day, the client expressed that she was fighting ongoing depression, talking about how horrible the world was.  After a someone lengthy conversation, my contractor friend asked how much news she listened to or watched.  “Oh, all the time!”  was the response. Morning news, newspaper, evening news, radio in the car, etc.  He asked if she was willing to take a challenge which after his explanation, she accepted.  This was the challenge: “Go two months without watching, reading or listening to the news.  And then see how you feel.”  She agreed.  The job was finished at this point and he left her to her life, not really expecting to hear.  Or at best, maybe in a couple of months.  A week later, she, the client, called and said, “I haven’t felt this good in years”.  No TV news, no radio and no newspapers.  She had a completely new outlook on life.  In just one week!  

It doesn’t surprise me at all.  Bombarding a person with bad news constantly can in no way be beneficial.  There have been countless studies on the effects of news on depression, anxiety and other disorders.  I’ve referenced a few below:

1. Article Title: The News Media and Psychological Distress

“Negative stress was directly related to anxiety and depression. News media exposure and anxiety were positively related at low levels of irrationality. News media exposure was predictive of trait anxiety at low levels of optimism.”

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10615800108248354

The ‘irrationality’ resulting from watching too much news is evident in arguments between friends that constantly occur on ‘sensitive’ subjects.  (Politics, religion, etc.) 

2. Article Title: A Systematic Review: The influence of social media on depression, anxiety and psychological distress in adolescents

“All domains correlated with depression, anxiety and psychological distress.”

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02673843.2019.1590851?src=recsys

If your children are on Facebook they are going to be constantly exposed to bad news, telling them how the world is going to hell in a hand basket.  Limiting use could save the use of harmful drugs like Ritalin, Prozac, Zoloft and others that often exacerbate depression and anxiety.  Prevention is way better than most ‘cures’ out there. Maybe the right phrase should be ‘anti-social media’.

3. Article Title: How the Negative News Cycle Can Impact Mental Health

“The results indicated those respondents viewing news coverage for six or more hours were nine times more likely to report high acute stress levels than those with minimal media time.”

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/how-the-negative-news-cycle-can-impact-mental-health-1110152

Have you ever tried to have a rational conversation with a friend  after they have been watching CNN or Fox for three days straight?  Not going to happen.  How communicative is your teenager after a full rainy day sitting on Facebook?

There is a lot of good in the world.  There is an endless supply of really good people. Most are generally quite friendly and want good things for those around them. Happy to help. Too much bad news from the media can stop someone’s willingness to feel safe and communicate with others.  

If you are finding yourself being a bit too miserable, reviewing how much time you are spending paying attention to the news or seeing alarming items on Facebook or other social media, then maybe you should take a moment to reorganize your life a bit.  If you are constantly getting in fights regarding politics with friends, I’d say that it would be a very good time to, at least temporarily, withdraw from Facebook and turn the news off.  

See, then, if your outlook changes at all. Give it a couple of weeks.  You up for the challenge?


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