STRESS AND THE NEWS
A recent survey from the American Psychological Association reported that 56% of those surveyed said that news causes them stress. Happify found 7 out of 10 adults say they experience stress and anxiety every day.
Last week, the stress just got to be too much and I went to a dark place. I immersed myself in mediation, yoga and essential oils and then I had an epiphany: the news was causing me stress, anxiety and depression!
Years ago, I stopped watching TV news and yet, with social media and our connection to our devices, we can literally be assaulted over and over and over again with bad news. In addition to feeling stressed, anxious and depressed, it leads us to feeling powerless.
Its time for a digital time out!
I am not suggesting you completely unplug and have no clue as to what is happening in the world, but there are simple practices you can put into place to help your mental health and help you feel more in control.
1. Reassess who you want to see first in your newsfeed. For me, I chose to go to a default setting with all news sources. This allows me to feel more in control, because I can choose to get information on my terms and in my own time.
2. Decide when you will access the news: Once a day? Twice? Three times? This allows you to be in control of your news consumption.
3. Consider turning off some or all of your notifications. Every time you hear one of those, you get a dopamine hit and the more dopamine hits you get, the more you want! It’s an addiction. Google and Apple have recently started to address this, but you can take control now and make adjustments to your notification settings. I realize that I have a very different relationship with my phone than most people – the only sound it plays is a zen bell chime when someone is actually calling to speak with me.
4. So many news outlets’ headlines are “The News You Need to Know.” Let’s shift that to “Focus on the News We Don’t Need to Know.” Whatever we focus on grows. Last week I had allowed myself to repeatedly focus on all the bad news and I realized that needed to stop and I needed to look for the Light, to look for the good in the world.
78% of people in the Happify survey said that volunteering helped them lower their stress. Charitable giving is a way of volunteering.
Dave Kerpen from Likeable Media highlighted Good Street last week and I signed up immediately. It is a great organization whose motto is “Change the World Every Day.” You can donate 25 cents to $1.00 a day to a charitable organization. Every morning you receive an email highlighting that day’s cause and two organizations to choose from. What an uplifting and no stress way to start the day! (If you sign up and mention my name, they will donate $5.00 to one of my favorite charities.)
5. Ask “What’s right, right now?” It’s too easy once we start down the “what’s wrong?” path to feel as if nothing’s right. Yet, if you stop for a moment to ask “What’s right?”, you may notice that, in this moment, you are safe, you have the gift of sight and hearing, that you have enough food, etc. It may sound Pollyanaish and a little odd at first, but like any new skill, it takes repetition to build it into a healthy new habit. The more you do this, the better and more natural it feels!
These are some of the techniques I share in my book “Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom.” When you begin to change your relationship with the news, notice how you feel less stressed, calmer and more in control.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on your relationship with “The News You Need to Know.”
I’ll end with a beautiful question from Mary Oliver “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one precious and wild life?”