You don’t have to look far to find bad news these days. Many of our favorite topics, whether it’s sports, entertainment, or investing, have been superseded by coronavirus. It seems that nearly every article or report out there contains details of the pandemic, leaving many of us feeling overwhelmed. In this stressful environment, it’s important to find ways to control our news intake so that it doesn’t control us.
Because the current crisis is dominating our lives, it’s understandable that most of us feel compelled to read every article we can about it. We scan for anything that can inform and prepare us.
“This impulse could stem from the chemical hits our brains receive with each news hit, but it could also derive from a primitive behavioral instinct—surveillance gratification-seeking, or the urge that drove our cave-dwelling ancestors to poke their heads out and check for predators,” explains an examination of news consumption from Wired. “In times of perceived crisis, our brains cry out for information to help us survive.”
This consumption of COVID-19 news can happen unconsciously. You open your eyes and it’s there, whether on a news website or your social feeds. This prevalence means you’ll need to consciously take control if you want to improve the situation. Here are some practical tips to help you do so:
- Pick a maximum of 2 news sources you can trust. Avoid the rest.
- Only check your primary sources a couple of times a day.
- Unfollow individuals on social media who are spreading fear or misinformation.
- Keep perspective. We’ve endured wars, recessions, and crises before this.
- Lighten things up with humorous content as well.
- Stay connected to the people who bring the most meaning to your life.
- Focus on the good things happening in your life.
By managing your intake, you can definitely change your outlook. It’s crucial that you take an active role because a passive approach puts you at the mercy of what’s being shared most prominently. And we all know that bad news spreads the fastest and gets the most clicks.
“It is helpful to adopt a more analytical approach as you follow news reports about the coronavirus,” recommends a mental health guide from the American Psychological Association. “You will also want to verify information that you receive from family, friends, or social media. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a webpage dedicated to information on the coronavirus outbreak. You may also find useful, reputable information from local or state public health agencies or even your family physician.”
The point is that while much of the news is bad right now, that doesn’t necessarily make it accurate or relevant. So take a thoughtful approach to what you’re bringing into your life. Even if you replace just one of your daily news check-ins with contacting a loved one instead, you’ll be better off for it. And that injection of positive energy allows you to continue being there for others, setting off the kind of chain reaction that will get us through this mess.