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The Impact of News on Mental Health

It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a historical year composed of numerous subsequent events that shook the world. While it may seem of utmost significance to remain informed on political matters, it can leave the mind feeling distraught. From a retrospective view, we have witnessed Australian bushfires, impeachment of Donald Trump, economic downturns, an explosion in Beirut, west coast wildfires, and Black Lives Matter protests. Oh, there’s one more thing to add onto that list: the COVID-19 Pandemic (AKA The Rona, Panini, The Pani). The severity and abundance of these events truly did not give us enough time to grieve and process. Ultimately, the media we absorb greatly influences our thinking and behavior and overconsumption can take a toll on our mental health.  

The increase of media accessibility has allowed for information to become pervasive. We no longer have to wait for the morning paper to get our news fix and can instead peer at out smart watches for media updates. While the accessibility of information can be positive, it can also be detrimental. This convenience can lead to over consumption and thus affect our mental health. Another consequence can be the spread of misinformation. Current social media sites display material based on an algorithm and not always relevance/ accuracy.

Managing our media consumption can help us stay informed while also reducing detriments to our mental health. Finding a balance between acquainting ourselves with events while not becoming overwhelmed is vital and may look different for everybody. Here are some tips to manage this modern day predicament.

1.       Limit your news exposure each day and take breaks if you need to!

2.       Assess how you feel prior to news consumption. Are you in the headspace to hear potentially devastating news?

3.       Rely on media outlets that are credible and limit the number of sources you utilize. Reading a topic on several sources can be excessive and heighten stress load.  

4.       Talk about the news with close friends and family to decompress.

5.       Do some self-care after reading the news! Go for a walk, take a shower, make some tea!

Prioritizing our mental health when it comes to media consumption is so important! While staying informed during these times is crucial, taking in too much can be overwhelming. Remain mindful of your surroundings but also check in with yourself.