We know from prior research done, that frequent media exposure during times of crisis can have negative effects on your mental health. It can lead to increases in anxiety and stress, as well as cause overreactions in health-seeking behaviors that can be counterproductive. However, it is important to stay informed! So how do you balance the need for information and the need to take a breather from the negativity of the news?
Below are some tips to find that healthy balance:
· Start your day out with something other than the news. Seriously, anything! It can be easy to roll over, reach for your phone, and scroll the headlines that have accumulated on your screen while you slept. Do your best to avoid this and instead try starting your day with a cup of coffee, a nice breakfast, or maybe some mindfulness practices such as deep breathing. The news will still be there waiting when you decide to check in!
· Limit your news exposure to specific times of the day when you know you will be able to take some calming time to yourself after reading or viewing.
· Limit the amount of time you allow yourself to read or watch the news. A recommended amount is no more than 45-60 minutes at one time. The shorter that window you can make it, the better on your mental health.
· Avoid news sources and media outlets that are not fact based. This can be a difficult one to do since there are strong disagreements regarding what news sources are considered reliable and the slew of misinformation available on the internet. Choose a few that you are comfortable with and try to avoid opinion pieces that do not draw on information from first-person sources. The key here is not to get lost down a rabbit trail of different news outlets and opinions that can leave you more confused than informed.
· Remember to take time to focus on the good! This can be fun moments with your family, good things happening for you personally, or uplifting stories out in the community. A YouTube channel that can be a good alternative to the negative news of today is: Some Good News with John Krasinski that outlines positive stories around the US in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Know that you are the best expert on you! If you notice yourself beginning to feel overwhelmed by the media and news of the day, then listen to your body and take a step back. It is okay to take breaks and be mindful of your needs in each moment! We are all stepping back and taking deep breaths with you!
Written by: Alexandra Reustle, M.A. – Doctoral Intern