When the world is changing, it seems essential to follow the news and what’s happening on social media. It allows us to maintain a sense of control over our own lives. We think that by absorbing streams of information, we can protect ourselves from the negative consequences of what is happening. In fact, it’s the opposite: bad news, unverified statements, and emotional reactions from others multiply our stress and anxiety. And therefore, only interfere with acting rationally.
How Bad News Affects the Body
The brain perceives any negative information as a warning of danger. In response, it triggers a physiological stress response. Cortisol and adrenaline enter the bloodstream in huge quantities. They put the body on high alert: they make the muscles tense, speed up the heartbeat and increase the blood pressure in order to improve the blood supply to the body.
This state helps us react more quickly to a threat. But if we stay in it too long, it exhausts the body. Stress becomes chronic. It can lead to inflammation and organ disorders. And, of course, it affects the psychological state. When stressed, people usually feel restless, they are irritable and it’s difficult for them to concentrate. It’s common to have trouble sleeping.
The constant consumption of frightening news has another unpleasant consequence: catastrophization. Against the backdrop of the stream of horrors, the most negative scenarios seem realistic. One begins to worry about things that may never happen instead of concentrating on the problems at hand.
Limit Your Time Reading the News and Surfing Social Media
You can’t completely avoid the news in times of crisis. Situations change quickly, and it’s important to stay in touch with reality. To reduce the stress of the news and stay informed, read it not every free minute, but at a strictly designated time. Ten to fifteen minutes is enough time to read everything you need to read. Establish a couple of these breaks a day at a time that is convenient for you. But there are a few conditions:
- Don’t do it in the morning, so you don’t have to worry about it all day afterwards.
- You should also not read the news late in the evening – this can cause problems with sleep.
- Don’t be distracted by the news an hour before an important meeting or important business.
In general, don’t be afraid to miss something important. Anything that requires immediate action you will quickly learn about from those around you. And the rest of the news is of little practical use. Moreover, many of them will have time to be refuted in a couple of hours. Wasting your cognitive resources on them is not practical.
Limit Your Sources of Information
During hard times, the number of fakes grows like a snowball. To avoid wasting time reading news garbage, choose two or three sources of information that you trust. And until the situation normalizes, read only them.
Use these principles as a guide in choosing your sources:
- If the news is presented emotionally, then the media is not striving for objectivity. The golden rule of journalism is that the news should be written in dry language.
- But remember that even if the news text is written without blatant distortions, it may contain false information. Pay attention to the sources relied upon in the publication.
- Text is better than video: with the help of images it is easier to manipulate the emotional state and evoke negative emotions.
Remember that you can’t judge what’s going on by the news headlines alone. They are often worded in such a way as to attract attention. Read the full text, especially when it’s about something truly outrageous.
Be skeptical of information that circulates on social media.
When some information causes you fear or anger – don’t try to get rid of these emotions. They will only intensify. Better yet, figure out what made you feel them and how rational that reason is.
For example, if you’re afraid of something, ask yourself the question: how big is the threat to me personally? Perhaps you are only worried about what might happen, and has not already happened? If so, that’s a reason to exhale a little.
Don’t Deprive Yourself of the Things That Make You Happy
In a state of anxiety, perception is distorted: familiar things – like going for a walk, betting at 20 Bet, taking care of yourself, and watching your favorite shows – seem insignificant and annoying. The feeling that they don’t make any sense is difficult to combat. But the paradox is that in times of turbulence, it is the commitment to your routines and habits that keeps your head cool and reduces the impact of stress.
Habitual actions on social media will have an effect, too. Don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity, for example, to check how your favorite cat is doing on Instagram. There are already studies showing that watching photos and videos of animals is good for mental health. In one, scientists looked for effective ways to boost your mood. They studied meditation, listening to music, and visualizing pleasant events, but one of the most effective ways was to watch videos of cute animals.
Unsubscribe From Those Whose Posts Evoke Strong Emotions
In hard times, social networks are one of the main sources of panic. It is where frightening and untrue information spreads most easily.
The reason is in the algorithms themselves: posts that evoke the most emotions spread more easily. It is better to control the process of information consumption yourself than to give it up to social networks. Here is what you can do:
- Unsubscribe from those people and blogs whose posts evoke fear, anger, anxiety. Such texts usually carry little practical information, but they destabilize the emotional state. In difficult times in life, it’s important to do everything you can to preserve your ability to act and think straight. And if someone else’s posts prevent you from doing so, you have the right not to read them.
- Try not to engage in arguments in social networks. Studies show that arguments about politics, even with strangers on the Internet – the source of stress. You can’t change anyone’s mind, it’s not the right format, but it’s quite realistic to spoil your mood.