We live in a world where we’re bombarded with news 24/7, and most of it is bad news. It’s everywhere: at airports, in line at the supermarket, even in some doctor’s offices (and don’t even get me started on how insane that is!) It’s becoming increasingly difficult to balance the desire for information with taking care of our mental health. It’s enough to make you wish you where a cat!
Exposing your psyche to this constant battering of negativity causes anxiety, stress and fear, which triggers the body’s natural stress response. Our bodies were not designed to live in a constant state of “fight or flight,” and allowing this much negativity into your life at all times will take its toll on your mental and physical, not to mention spiritual health.
Now more than ever, it’s up to each of us to make conscious choices about how and when we consume our news. I suggest the following:
Decide how you want to receive the news
Do you want to get your news in print, audio or visual format? I get my news from trusted newspapers only. I try to limit visuals to the images that come across my Facebook newsfeed. I find visuals too powerful: once I’ve seen something I can’t unsee it.
Choose how frequently you want to receive the news
Do you really need to have the TV on all day long so you don’t miss anything? There is very little that happens in the world that you need to know about “live.” Limit your news intake to once or twice a day. I get a daily summary email from a trusted newspaper, and decide based on that which stories I would like more information about.
Know how to identify fake news
Fake news is not a new problem, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction. The Annenberg Public Policy Center offers a comprehensive checklist on how to spot fake news.
Know how much news you can tolerate
If you’re a highly sensitive individual, you’re going to want to limit your news intake even more than the average person. Highly sensitive people tend to feel more deeply and are more reactive, and are more prone to anxiety and depression. They are particularly vulnerable to watching hostility or violence. I recently walked into a friend’s house while she had the TV on a news channel. It took me most of the evening, and into the next day, to shake off some of the images I took in even in just the few minutes before she turned the TV off.
Take a news break
Take a 24-hour news break. Trust me, you won’t miss anything – if something really big happens, you’ll find out from your friends or family. Of course, for most of us, this also means taking a social media break. If you’re lucky, your social media feed is simply a collection of cat photos, but if you’re like most of us, that’s not the case.
I struggle with this issue. I want to be informed, but I can’t take the constant barrage of bad news, so in addition to being mindful about my news sources and when I consume news, I turn everything off after dinner. I may watch TV, but only pre-recorded shows or Netflix.
Pet your cats
Of course, the best relief from news overload is spending time with your cats. And don’t you envy them? They couldn’t care less about what’s happening in the world as long as they have a full bowl and warm lap to nap on.
As always, I love to hear from you and welcome your comments. However, please note I will delete all comments that contain any sort of political commentary. The Conscious Cat is a politics-free zone.