There is a wealth of well researched evidence that shows watching the news is bad for your mental health and well-being. Test it for your-self.
As the competition for your attention becomes more intense, newscasters increasingly rely on sensationalizing bad new. Some studies have shown that over 50% of TV news depict various forms of violence, conflict, and suffering. In addition, “bad news” is further emphasized by an early placement in most broadcasts.
Does this have a negative impact on your metal health and wellbeing? You bet it does.
Research shows watching the news is bad for your mental health
According to psychologist, Dr. Graham Davey, who specializes in the psychological effects of media violence, exposure to violent media can contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, and depression. Various scientific studies confirm his findings. For example, in one replicated study university students were exposed to 15 minutes of random newscasts after which their total mood disturbance was measured. The results confirmed that watching the news on television triggers persisting negative psychological feelings, that, in this study, could only be neutralized by an intervention such as progressive relaxation.
A further impact of ingesting newscasts with a negative bias is that you are more likely to catastrophize your own worries – a tendency to make ‘mountains out of molehills’! What is more, as you catastrophize it becomes more difficult to be objective as you thinking becomes more obsessive around the perceived catastrophe.
“Most neuroses and some psychoses can be traced to the unnecessary and unhealthy habit of daily wallowing in the troubles and sins of five billion strangers.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
Watching the news sets up a vicious downward spiral
So you see
Watching the news can set up a vicious downward spiral. You watch a dismal newscast, it causes negative feelings, which cause negative thoughts, which trigger more negative feelings. You end up feeling angry, stressed, fearful or generally low. When you are in this feeling state you are more likely to notice and focus on stuff that is congruent with these feelings, which takes you even lower. And so it goes on.
Luckily there is a simple solution to this problem.
Give the news a break. Test it. Give it a miss and see how you feel after a week.
For 7 days, just say “no” to “news”. Do not watch, read, or listen to any news shows from any source. Instead use that time to read, listen to or watch something uplifting, entertaining, informative, or even better still, something that makes you laugh.
Notice how life still went on without being “informed”
“One reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no newspapers.”
Gwendolyn Brooks, In the Mecca
What do you really get from the news anyway
If you sit down and think about it – what difference does it really make to your day knowing about a fatal crash that killed a family or 4 or yet another gun manic going on a rampage in a school or the gory details of murder suicide pact or the fact that some poor sole fell to their death after trying to take a selfie to close to the edge of a cliff. Really? How does this information improve your life. If it doesn’t then why are you watching it. Could there be more fun and uplifting things to do with your time?
Perhaps instead of watching the 6 o’clock news you could watch the sunset.