Unplug From Bad News
This week we’ve had a number of horrific news stories including the mass shooting in Orlando, the murder of a finalist on the Voice by a fan, and a child dragged away by an alligator. Because stories of tragedy are available to us 24 hours a day, compounded by the fact that we seem to have mass shootings in the U.S. on a monthly basis, we are regularly exposed to stories that can have a negative impact on our emotional well-being. If all of this bad news is causing you any distress – including sadness, anxiety, sleep disturbance – it might be time to disconnect from the media, including Facebook or other social media for a bit.
It may not seem like a big deal, but emotional distress can occur when we spend too much time mired in bad news… even if it does not directly impact us. One of the reasons that we are so susceptible to distress is our constant connection to the world. Constantly connecting with media, all media, prevents us from distancing ourselves from stressors. Yes, even spending too much time reviewing vacation photos and other happy events can make it impossible to keep stress in check. Can simply abstaining from using technology and avoiding the news for a period of time reverse these negative consequences? The simple answer, according to most research, is yes.
Scheduling regular “rest time” in the form of unplugging makes sense. Your brain needs time off to develop and grow. In fact, shutting off completely may be crucial for brain health. More importantly, shutting off will give you a break from the bad news of the day that is hurting your emotional well-being.
Take a few days off from social and other media and you might just feel happier, less anxious, and more relaxed. During that time, consider spending time doing things that foster your emotional health like doing things for others, practicing self-discipline, learning new things “the old fashioned way” like reading a book, visiting a museum or taking a short trip. In Colorado we are fortunate to have a beautiful natural landscape. Enjoy the beauty of nature. Once you’ve taken the break, resist the urge to “catch up” on the news you’ve missed. You likely haven’t missed anything you truly need to know and trying to catch up will put you right back where you started.