As human beings, we are constantly seeking and receiving information. We’re part of an age where news coverage is presented in real time, and the 24-hour news cycle allows us to stay informed to the very minute. But if the news is negative, the psychological ramifications can be serious. Watching something tragic unfold repeatedly can have an impact on your mental health.
A study conducted after 9/11 found that watching coverage of the event on television was enough to trigger symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. A correlation was found between the severity of the symptoms someone experienced with how much coverage was viewed.
In the past week, the death of Chris Cornell and the terror attack in Manchester, England have dominated the news. If you feel like this coverage is impacting your mood negatively, or bringing on feelings of anxiety or depression, here are some tips to help you cope:
Reduce Screen Time: Research shows that repeatedly viewing graphic or disturbing images may contribute to stress-related symptoms. Turn off your tv, close your laptop, and ignore your social media notifications. Instead, focus on a calming activity like reading, catching up with a friend, or get back into a hobby that you’ve been neglecting. Helping to distance yourself from the coverage can help you to reset.
Exercise: Whether you start taking a daily walk around your neighborhood or renew your gym membership, making a positive change to your physical health can have mental benefits. Use the time you’ll gain from minimizing screen time to improve your physical and mental health.
Volunteer: It’s so easy to watch the negative news coverage and feel like bad things are happening everywhere. Remind yourself of the good, and that you have the power to make the world a better place. Chances are, you’ll meet people who dedicate their lives to helping others, and some of your faith in humanity might be restored.
Reach out: If you’re feeling symptoms of depression, anxiety, or PTSD from the events of the past week, reach out for help. Schedule an appointment with a counselor, or talk with a friend or loved one about how you’ve been feeling. Reaching out for help shows resilience and strength, and can help you to get back to feeling like yourself again.
Stories of disaster, tragedy, and calamity impact us all and the decisions we make each day impact our mental health. Remember, sometimes taking a step back from the news cycle is the healthiest and most productive decision for our well-being.