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The news can harm your health

 

Last updated 5/14/2019 at 9:12am



It’s more difficult today not to know what’s going on in the world. From print sources, to online media, to 24/7 radio and TV news stations, everybody is working to keep people informed about the news.

And it turns out that’s not always a good thing.

While people may think it’s important to stay up to date, when so much news and in such detail comes at them every day it can have a negative effect. One recent survey found more than half of Americans reporting that the news caused them stress, made them anxious, tired and even unable to sleep at times.

And yet they can’t seem to stay away. That same survey found that one in 10 adults checks the news every hour and that some 20% of people constantly monitor their social media feeds.

One problem with all this news is that not all of it is what people really need to know. Cable news networks must fill up 24 hours each day and do so by first reporting a story, then repeating and emphasizing often-disturbing details and assembling a panel to analyze it in minute detail.

In addition, the news being reported, especially of disasters of any sort, tends to be much more visual than ever. TV and online news is filled with not only professional video of events, but often also includes smartphone videos and audio clips that can have an extremely strong impact on viewers as they are drawn closer into the disaster or other event.

A first step in trying to be less affected by the news being delivered is to become more aware of how a news event changes someone’s mood or makes their thoughts more negative. If someone finds themselves becoming more anxious or stressed as they watch the news, take a break and turn to a more positive activity.

They can also cut back on how much news they let into their life. No one needs constant news alerts on their phone or to have a 24-hour news channel constantly in the background.

Experts recommend limiting consumption of the news to one block of time each day. Maybe watch a news update at lunch or before dinner. While it’s a good thing to be aware and informed, it’s not a good thing when too much news is negatively affecting someone’s life and health.

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Send comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit http://www.counseling.org.

 

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