When Negative News Becomes a Nuisance to Your Mental Health

Another day, another doomscroll. Let's face it, most people get a not-so-healthy daily dose of negative news on a local, national and world level. It spills from our phones, computers, and tablets threatening our sense of happiness and any chance for a hopeful future. In fact, making those valiant efforts to stay engaged and informed on what's happening has turned dread and despair into the everyday norm for many. And like it or not, it could start to do a number on your mental health, causing anxiety and debilitating psychological exhaustion, aka news fatigue. In case you're wondering how to distinguish the term news fatigue from good old fashioned burnout, let's breakdown the specifics of news fatigue and you can decide whether you're suffering from this common condition.

  • You feel compelled to read headlines that announce negative content

  • You retrieve this negative news from an abnormal amount of social media use

  • You have a difficult time pulling yourself away from the social media platforms

  • You constantly check news sites for bad news

  • You're not particularly optimistic about life and look at life negatively

  • You feel the world is doomed and believe that society is full of deviants

So, why does reading the news result in feelings of being run over by an emotional freight train? It begins with the overwhelming compulsion to read bad news. You get sucked in by sensationalized headlines that are too bizarre to ignore. The articles often involve trending topics, well known personalities or relatable Joe Schmoes who seem to be drowning in misfortune for the moment. It's an irresistible read, yet draining as you pile on one more story into your consciousness.

Consistent exposure to disastrous events in the news can lead to our brains processing the stories as ordinary and expected. We start to register trauma as a normal daily occurrence, which isn't healthy for our mental health and could be detrimental to our physical health. We must find ways to detach and avoid the deluge of negative news that targets readers everyday. By doing this you can give yourself a chance to recover from the fatigue. Here are some specific suggestions:

  • Don't overload on news based apps. If you're not careful, many of them will put you on the merry-gloom-round. Limit yourself and live better.

  • Follow more positive social media accounts and leave the negative ones in the digital dust. You can ease the news fatigue just by removing stressful stories from your feed.

  • Give yourself a social media timeout. If you have friends that are waiting for you to reappear from your ghost tour, reach out and say Boo! They may want to hear from you.

  • How about a Mood Boost? If you've been looking for news in all the wrong places, switch to content that takes you from humdrum to happy at first read.

Of course, you can't avoid every distressing story, but you don't have to get shaken silly by headline after headline of mind crushing content that puts you in an emotional vice. Negative news is inevitable, but good news can ease the mind and put you in a healthy, happier place!

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