Protecting Your Mental Health While Staying Informed

4 min
Article preview picture

We are living in particularly stressful times. Not because wars, pandemics, political power plays, social unrest, and global economic downturns are anything new in the grand scope of human history, but because for many of us, the rate at which we are bombarded with new ー and quite often, overwhelming ー information is becoming incredibly stressful一for some, even unbearable. The digital revolution may have connected us with our fellow humans in remarkable ways, but it has also contributed to a global mental health challenge of increased stress and anxiety. So how can we retain a connection to the world as engaged global citizens that care about what’s going on around us, without completely losing our minds? Let’s cut the speculation and get straight to the facts.

Understand What’s Really Going On With The 24-Hour News Cycle

A study on the early days of the COVID-19 news cycle found that people who followed updates about the pandemic closely had much higher rates of psychological distress than those who limited their news exposure. A big part of the issue is the hysteria around the news 一not just the reporting of an event itself, but the analysis, speculation, and sometimes misinformation that is churned out, not always with the intention to keep us informed, but often to garner clicks, because clicks equal advertising dollars – as do eyeballs on TV news stations. As Georgetown University professor Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, put it in a New Yorker article: “Checking ten different sites ten times a day makes them money, even if it doesn’t leave you more informed than checking one good site once a day.” 

Examine The Nature Of Your News Consumption

Think about how you’ve engaged with the news in the past week. At what point are you intentionally consuming news as a socially responsible member of society, and at what point are you being manipulated into compulsive behaviours and an unhealthy relationship with information? There’s a big difference between staying informed on current affairs and being glued to the news cycle for fear of missing out on something. No one on this planet has the capacity to keep up with every single thing that happens each day. But if you’re desperate to be the first person in the office with the latest tidbit of gossip, then have a think about your motivations for this. Are you trying to people please? Are you seeking validation? Is it actually quite a burdensome responsibility to keep everyone else up-to-date with current affairs when you have your own full-time job and life challenges to deal with?

Here’s another tough question: When asking yourself why you’re spending so much time not just watching, reading, or scrolling through the news, but also sharing your thoughts and commentary about it, consider whether you’re doing so because you truly want to learn more about it – and if you have the mental and emotional capacity to take in this information in that moment – or if it’s actually because of how you would like to be perceived within your community. Taking a step back to look after yourself and your own mental health doesn’t mean you care about certain causes any less, or that you lack empathy or awareness about what’s happening in the rest of the world.

Disrupt Your Intake

If taking a break from the news seems wildly impossible, then unless it’s your job, you really might benefit from a break from all of your news sources, including social media platforms. Avoid them altogether for a few days, a week, or more if needed. It’s ok to retreat every now and then, and it’s ok not to be the person with all the opinions and stats on everything. On a more long-term basis, consider limiting your exposure: Allow yourself a reasonable amount of time to check in and see what’s happening around you, but try to set good habits in place that help you avoid getting sucked into a rabbit hole ー even if that requires a self-imposed literal time limit. Use the time to reconnect with yourself and the things that bring you joy. The world will still be ticking along when you come back to the news, and any major developments will still find their way to you from friends, colleagues, or family members.

Rebuild Your Relationship With The News

While it’s good to absorb a diverse range of perspectives and opinions, start with one reliably legitimate news organisation that you trust the most. Use this source to get the headlines, and build a more intentional habit around interacting with it. This could include one or all of the following:

  • Spending 15 minutes in the morning catching up on the headlines.
  • Taking 30 minutes after work reading more about the stories that interest you.
  • Enjoying an hour or two on a weekend reading a more in-depth analysis.
  • Curating your social media feeds to include as few news sources as possible.

Put The Phone Down

Doomscrolling before bed never made anyone feel better. Establishing a regular meditation practice in its place – one that reminds you of your inner strength, no matter what is going on in the world – is proven to have more benefits to your mental health. So find more ways like this to ground yourself in the face of life’s unpredictability, and focus on what you can control. Obsessing over the news won’t get you any closer to solving the world’s challenges, but showing up from a well-rested, more heart-centred place can help you support your own community better, and the rest can stem from there. Remember: looking after yourself mentally and emotionally is a major part of self-care, and it’s just as important to show up for yourself first as it is to do so for the causes you care about.

Learn how to harness the power of positivity to overcome depression, increase motivation, and build unshakeable resilience.with Infijoy's Course Learned Hopefulness Course


All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: COVID-19 And The 24-Hour News Cycle; The Psychological Impact Of Negative TV News Bulletins; Associations Between Media Exposure and Mental Distress Among U.S. Adults at the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic; News Consumption and Its Unpleasant Side Effect: Studying the Effect of Hard and Soft News Exposure on Mental Well-Being Over Time.

Share this story
Read more
  • Article preview
    30 Mar 2022

    5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety

    5 min

    Anxiety can feel like someone is controlling your body without your permission. Unlike nervousness, anxiety doesn’t usually go away easily, even after a stressful situation has ended. It tends to persist and, as a result, can affect daily life in many ways. Anxiety can make people feel like there is no way out, and it may create worrying feelings that you cannot control, even making you feel like you are starting to lose control of your life. This can be extremely harmful to our mental health, and leaving these feelings untreated can make people feel frustrated, stressed, and emotionally drained. 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    24 Mar 2022

    The 7 Types of Rest

    4 min

    In our fast-paced society, where much of our success is often defined by how much more we can do, many of us have forgotten that to find our physical and emotional balance, we must also sometimes allow ourselves to do less. 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    1 Mar 2022

    What is Stress?

    10 min

    Are you stressed out from work, school, or relationships? It’s a normal response, especially when you’re under pressure. Stress is often part-and-parcel of everyday life, and in some small doses, it can have some positive effects by keeping you alert, pushing you to be more motivated, and building resilience, according to experts. But when there’s too much of it for too long ー when you experience chronic stress, or remain in a high-stress level for a prolonged period of time ーit can easily lead to more severe consequences. This type of stress can lead to mental health issues that could drastically harm our psychological state and well-being, in addition to having physiological effects such as migraines, muscle tension, fatigue, chest pains, stomach upset, or changes in your libido, to name a few. Learning to identify when your stress becomes distress or a more serious problem ー and how to manage or relieve it ー is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    25 Feb 2022

    How to Heal Your Nervous System

    4 min

    Nervous system dysregulation is a surprisingly widespread phenomenon. According to Polyvagal Theory, which was developed by neuroscientist Stephen Porges in the 1990s, there’s a highly intricate system of signals transmitted between the brain and the body along the various branches of the vagus nerve. This pathway – which runs from the brain through to the abdomen – is integral to the functioning of organs and hormonal responses, as part of the Autonomic Nervous System. When the ANS is aroused by a sense of threat or stress, the fight or flight response kicks in. If the ANS is overwhelmed, the body begins to enter a freeze state, or shut-down. These responses are imperative for basic human survival, but the messages can get jumbled and result in chronic activation and dysregulation – which is detrimental to physical and psychological health. This strain on the body can result in all kinds of ailments, from anxiety to digestion issues, chronic pain, and life-threatening disease. Healing the nervous system is a vital piece of the well-being puzzle.

    Read full article