For most of us, the first and last thing we do every day is look at our phones. According to a recent study, the average person checks their phone about 58 times a day which leads to the average American spending about 3 hours and 43 minutes on their mobile device. That time is often spent flipping through apps, communicating with others, and checking in on daily events.
Due to the recent election, there has been an issue with stress caused by the media. The American Psychological Association collected data observing the stress of the political climate. They stated:
“In 2020, more than three-quarters of Americans (77%) say the future of our nation is a significant source of stress, up from 66% in 2019. Likewise, the current political climate is reported as a significant source of stress by more than two-thirds of Americans (68%), compared with 62% who said the same in 2019.”
Now add the global pandemic into the equation, psychologists Dana Rose Garfin, E. Alison Holman, and Roxane Cohen Silver discuss in their new paper Health Psychology the detrimental effects of constant media coverage of the coronavirus. With the media at the publics’ fingertips, it is easy for a person to simply click on a button and be exposed to all forms of news. This access can increase a person’s “fight or flight response” which can lead to mental and physical problems. There have been studies involving lasting aftereffects of too much news exposure.
How can we stop the stress?
While the media can be daunting, here are a few tips on how to better control your news exposure.
1. Schedule a time for the news.
Instead of constantly checking in on current events, set a time during the day where you can stay updated. For some people, stepping away from the news completely does not seem feasible so instead set a time limit. Maybe schedule it during breakfast or lunch. Although experts advise not to dive into the news after dinner or before bed.
2. Make Time for Self-Care
Taking a break from the news might be a good step. If you chose to schedule your news time, make sure you also set aside time for self-care. Many professionals suggest reading, exercise, listening to music, calling a loved one, and practicing meditation. Make time to destress with things that bring you joy.
3. Focus on News You Can Solve
Ask yourself what you can do to help. Can you volunteer for local causes? Maybe you can donate to organizations that you support or raise money for them. Try getting in touch with your community and see if you can lend a hand. If you feel helpless, try to just focus on bettering yourself and those around you.
4. Look into Positive News Sites
While it is easy to focus on the negatives, why not start the day with some good news. Here are some recommended sites that are known to show the good in the world.
The Optimist Daily
“To publish positive, solutions stories every day that our subscribers can experience daily and share in just a few moments, so as to elevate, motivate, and reignite each individual’s innate reservoir of intelligent optimism as a way of catalyzing the evolution of human consciousness.”
Good News Network
“Since 1997, millions of people have turned to the Good News Network® as an antidote to the barrage of negativity experienced in the mainstream media. Because of its long history, staying power, and public trust, GNN is #1 on Google for good news.”
“We are pioneers of ‘constructive journalism’ – a new approach in the media, which is about rigorous and relevant journalism that is focused on progress, possibility, and solutions. We publish daily online and Positive News magazine is published quarterly in print.”
When it comes to the media, you should ask yourself what relationship you would like to have. You might not be in control of what is out there, but you can control how you react to it. Listen to yourself, you are your best judgment when it comes to how much you can handle. If you need more guidance, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. We are here to help.