I’ve frequently mentioned how important it is to limit your news intake. This is true any time, but it’s especially true now that we’re being bombarded with bad news 24/7.
I’ve already reduced my daily news intake to about 10 to 15 minutes a day, and only from reputable sources. I never watch anything, I read the few sources I trust online instead. And as much as I love seeing updates from my friends on social media, I’ve temporarily “hidden” the ones who constantly post links to news about the pandemic. All of that has contributed to lowering my anxiety levels, but I didn’t realize just how much even that small amount of news impacts my mental well-being until I took a complete 24 hours news break on my birthday.
For the first time in more than two months, I went through almost an entire day without feeling anxious. I had a little flare up when I brought in the meal I had delivered from my favorite restaurant. I still wipe down groceries and mail before I bring them in the house. My rational brain knows that it’s not necessary, but the emotional part of my brain still screams “cooties! cooties!” But even that little bit of anxiety was so much less than what I experience when I read the news.
There’s plenty of evidence that overexposure to news is bad for you. It puts your body into continuous “fight or flight” mode, and this constant stress response leads to a whole slew of health problems associated with chronic stress at a time when we should be doing everything we can to keep our immune system strong.
I realized during my 24 hours news break that not only did I not follow the news that day, I also hardly thought about COVID. Of course it’s impossible to not have it be part of your consciousness – after all, if it wasn’t for COVID, I would have gone out to a restaurant to celebrate my birthday with friends. But I didn’t constantly think about something I’d read about earlier in the day, wondering how it would affect me. It made me realize just how much the news stays with me even after my brief daily updates.
Now that I know just how much better I felt with no news for a day, I’m going to make sure I have at least one day a week without the news, starting today. Will you join me in a 24 hours news break?