Stay Informed but Also Sane
Pandemics and war have jumped off the pages of the latest dystopian fiction and landed in our day-to-day news cycle. While we all must face reality (however ugly it is), the ubiquity of information may be thrusting reality in our faces a little too often.
In an American Psychological Association survey fielded way back in 2017 — when one might call the news cycle mild in comparison to what we see today — more than half of respondents reported that following the news regularly caused them stress.
So how do you balance a desire to know what’s going on with your need to limit your stress levels?
Here are 8 tips for staying sane and also informed:
- Use a mindfulness app, such as Headspace, to practice accepting information without trying to change it.
- Remind yourself what issues are within your capacity to control. Avoid ruminating on problems outside your sphere.
- Stop and question your news consumption. Ask yourself, “Do I need to know this right now?” Professor and author Loretta Breuning says, “There’s this idea of following the news in order to be an informed citizen, but a lot of what you see today is gossip elevated to a sophisticated level.”
- Read the news only in specified time blocks throughout the day. Make this easier by turning off news alerts on your devices.
- Don’t process alone. Discuss events and your emotions about them with friends and loved ones.
- When you feel powerless, empower yourself by finding a way to make an impact via volunteering, donating, etc.
- Acknowledge the possibility that what you’re reading is a bit sensationalized. According to the Awareness Centre’s Michaela McCarthy, “News reporters and journalists no longer just bring straightforward, impartial factual bulletins for five to 10 minutes every hour; the fact that they are now part of a 24-hour newsfeed means that they have to vie for your attention and turn the news into wall-to-wall ‘entertainment.'”
- Feeling the need for a full-fledged detox? Try an information fast.