The news just seems to get worse every day, doesn’t it? As many of us continue to stay at home and grow worried about current events and what they might mean for our own lives, there is always a nagging itch to scroll through our social media feeds or turn on the TV to keep ourselves updated.
Most media are designed in such a way to keep us hooked, and take advantage of what psychologists call negativity bias, that is, our brains’ inclination to elicit stronger responses towards negative rather than positive or neutral events.
While it’s definitely important and responsible to keep ourselves in the loop, constant exposure to negative news may make our brains believe that we’re in danger, even if there are no such immediate risks to our own safety at the present time.
Paying attention to the negative and being wound up with anxiety makes complete evolutionary sense, but at a time when things can get easily overwhelming, the better way for us to survive each day is to keep our mental health in check, rather than obsess over things we cannot control.
Here are our tried and tested ways for maintaining our mental well-being, when everything else in the world seems to be falling apart.
Set a time limit for reading the news
Unless your work depends on it, keeping yourself updated all day isn’t necessary. You can give yourself a few moments per day to catch up, and then stay away from the news for the rest of the day.
Set boundaries as well with others. If you regularly discuss the news with friends, politely ask if you can change the topic for the time being.
It’s also important to avoid checking the news right after you wake up in the morning, or before you go to bed. You wouldn’t want to make yourself feel worse by losing sleep!
Turn off your notifications
Let’s face it; we’re all addicted to our phones. Opening the latest social media notification can easily lead us into a rabbit hole of dreadful headlines and distressing information. Do yourself a favor and simply turn off notifications from apps that could potentially expose you to these triggers. In the digital age, your attention is currency. Make sure you spend it on what serves you best.
Look for positive content to scratch your itch
This isn’t just our way of telling you to subscribe to Good Side News! When you’re down in the dumps from everything bad that is happening, taking a step back and learning about the good things happening around us can go a long way. The Internet is full of stories of kindness, new scientific discoveries, or even adorable animal photos waiting to be read.
Take some time just for yourself
Our brains are processing a million and one things every day, especially in this age when most of us are constantly connected to the Internet through our gadgets. Do yourself a favor: turn off your screens, set them aside, and take some time for yourself.
Take a walk, draw something, pick up an instrument, knit a sock, cook a new dish (write the recipe down on a piece of paper, so you don’t have to check your phone for instructions), thinking about what you’re grateful for and write it down, or put on some calming music and meditate—whatever you choose to do, the fact is, there’s so much more to life than just being overloaded by information and being slaves to worry.
Relax, and don’t forget that you are alive, and you are human.