28 May 2020, 13:00 — 6 min read
The way we consume news has evolved. A few years ago, you had to read the morning paper and wait for the evening TV news to stay up to date on current events. Now, the news is available at your fingertips. Messaging apps, social media platforms, and news websites have made news more accessible than ever. You get real-time updates, and it takes mere minutes for the news to spread to hundreds of people.
Though this is convenient, it can also get tiring and lead to news fatigue. According to psychology professor Mary McNaughton-Cassill, news fatigue is a modern phenomenon wherein the overwhelming amount of available news gives you stress. This is especially true for worrisome news.
News fatigue is more common amidst a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world. The news helps you keep track of the virus’ spread and know what measures you need to take, but it can also cause anxiety and fear. Plus, the various sources of news makes it hard to keep up. How, then, can you cut through the noise and avoid news fatigue? Here are five ways:
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Fake news, posts that create unnecessary panic, and anxiety-inducing articles that aren’t based on facts are more rampant than ever. To avoid these, you shouldn’t rely heavily on social media posts, especially ones that are unverified or aren’t from official pages of media publications.
You should also practice due diligence through fact-checking, which means checking multiple sources to verify the accuracy of their news. This helps in drawing a line between things that you need to know and things that will just cause further confusion.
It’s important to find the balance between being informed and being overwhelmed with news to the point of exhaustion. To achieve this balance, make it a point to limit your news intake.
You can do this by curating your news feed, following credible sources, setting up website filters, and choosing the best channels to consume news. Clinical psychologist Curtis W. Reisinger also recommends avoiding reading or watching the news just before bed, as this can cause worry and disrupt your sleep. If you have a hard time limiting your screen time, you can also download apps like SPACE and AntiSocial that help solve that exact problem.
News should be helpful, not stressful. News is essential in helping you make informed decisions and keep up with what’s going on around you
It’s important to have time for news, but so is having time to relax and unwind. According to Dr. Vivian Tran, an internal medicine physician, being glued to your TV or phone to check on the news can cause eye strain, headaches, and additional stress.
Know when to disconnect and take breathers. You can try HeadSpace for meditation, FitOn for staying active, Calm for inspirational masterclasses and sleep stories, or any other activity that puts you at ease. Spending time with your loved ones can also be a good way to disconnect. Get creative with your activities, like hosting movie nights, playing different board games, or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen. All of these can be effective ways of reducing anxiety and looking after your mental health.
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Despite all the noise and stress that news can bring, there’s always some good news out there.
Don’t make it a habit to focus on the things that are going wrong; instead, make space for good news by reading up on stories that spark creativity, hope, and inspiration. This can create a positive impact on your outlook and help you appreciate the news more.
Some of the websites you can visit for good news include the good news section of the Philippine Information Agency, Positive.News, and Good News Pilipinas. If you’re looking for stories to get your creative juices flowing, you can visit Colossal and IGNANT for stories on art, design, and photography.
According to Dr. Michelle Riba, a psychiatrist from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center, news fatigue can manifest in different ways. Some examples include anxious or worried feelings, mood changes, and sleep struggles.
If you aren’t careful, and news fatigue persists, it can lead to feeling desensitized by both good and bad news, developing a cynical outlook on current events, and wanting to avoid the news altogether. If you feel that you’re experiencing news fatigue, acknowledge it and take a step back.
At the end of the day, news should be helpful, not stressful. News is essential in helping you make informed decisions and keep up with what’s going on around you. It also connects you to other people, creating a sense of community. You won’t have to avoid news if you find healthy ways to consume it. Follow these tips to stay informed while avoiding news fatigue.
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