We are bombarded with so much information we are overwhelmed most of the time, whether subconsciously or consciously. We need to be extremely selective about the things we actively choose to watch or read given today’s information overload. Watching the news seems to be negatively affecting our mental health, for example. How can we quit watching the news and change this habit?
It’s important to make sure you get rid of any obvious triggers from your surroundings in order to stop watching the news.
Check that your phone, computer, and TV are not in your immediate surroundings.
Put together a plan for replacing this news habit with a substitute activity.
Reflect on your own reactions and experiences to ensure you continue to improve your efforts over time.
Is not watching the news OK?
Today, we live in an increasingly digital world. We know what’s happening all around the globe in a blink of an eye. Do we need to watch the news just because we have the wealth of information at our fingertips, or is it ok to make the choice to not engage with it ?
You are totally OK to stop watching the news, but you may want to stay informed depending on your own preferences and job. You can learn about current events more qualitatively and in depth by using other resources, such as weekly newspapers or podcasts.
Keeping up with the news can be repetitive and waste your time, without really allowing you to dig deeper into issues that are of real concern to you.
When people become older, they can become more interested in politics, economics, and much of what the news is made of. People have a greater sense of obligation to watch news regularly as they get older.
There is also a significant peer pressure element to this as well, with an expectation that a person will be up with the latest news happening around the world.
A balanced approach means keeping one’s priorities straight and staying informed about the areas that matter to one selectively, without feeling the pressure to keep up with everything. Don’t feel guilty about not watching the news. Keep your mental health in mind by following your own path.
The good news is that we can still get the desired information without watching the news all the time by reading some carefully chosen weekly newspapers.
Why You Should Quit The News
Recent studies indicate that the news has become more and more negative over the last few decades. The reason for this is most likely related to the fact that news stories which trigger strong emotions get watched more often. People tend to be driven by their fears. This means we are more likely to pay attention to arguments appealing to our worries, uncertainties, and doubts.
Since the news bias is negative and pessimistic, stopping or reducing your consumption of TV news will probably have a positive impact on your mental health.
Research has shown that negative news increases anxiety and sadness, but it can also make one’s own fears worse, even when there is nothing inherently wrong with the news at hand.
Besides, watching the news often does not have a real impact on your life – except for making you miserable. There are several scientifically proven negative effects of watching news, including:
- People who have been watching disturbing or traumatizing news on a regular basis can develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
- News coverage tends to give an excessive amount of significance to certain events, regardless of whether these events are really relevant or not.
- It makes us feel that there’s more crime and violence around us than there is. This makes people distrustful and paranoid.
- In order to support hidden agendas and propaganda, some news channels actively mislead the public.
- Watching the news has been shown to increase stress and anxiety levels, not only while watching, but also long after one has switched off the television.
Many people develop dark fears from watching too much news. It can lead to mild depression, anxiety and elevated stress levels.
One solution is to stop watching the news and turn instead to trustworthy weekly newspapers as a reliable source of information that does not over-dramatize issues at hand. Taking this approach can help stabilise the negative mental health issues triggered by the excessive news watching.
The following are additional reasons why reducing or stopping your news viewing may be wise:
- VISUAL information can have a serious impact. Do not expose yourself to so much traumatizing imagery.
- Watch time is maximized by carefully selecting information mixes tailored to appeal to the masses. There is a tremendous amount of positive news out there that the mass population does not want to see because it is not optimised to trigger our more primal concerns.
- It will often take a week or a month before you hear something truly new or get other valuable insights. Getting specific news articles out of a newspaper would be more productive.
You will free up a tremendous amount of time, energy, and mental space if you stop watching the news.
Is it possible for the news to make you depressed?
Watching the news can result in one feeling anxious, sad, and even scared, no matter whether the news in question is relevant to their personal fears. But can watching the news make you depressed?
Watching the news, especially the 24-hour news format, worsens the situation for people who suffer from depression. The news’ negativity bias fosters more anxiety, depression, and fear rather than fostering a positive attitude towards life. Researchers have found that people who watch too much TV have higher risks of developing depression.
It would be recommended not watching the news if you tend to be pessimistic, depressed, or anxious. If you want to stay up-to-date, focus on podcasts, radio stations, or newspapers as it seems like the mental impact of visual media is worse than reading or audio equivalents.
Step by step guide To Stop Watching The News
To quit watching the news successfully, you should follow these steps:
1. Environment Change
Long-term successful people who stick to good habits use very little willpower… Do you know why? They change their surroundings to set them up for success.
How should you change your habits if you want to stop watching the news?
- Tips for your phone: We spend quite a bit of time with our phones, sometimes even without realizing it. Make sure that you turn off any notifications related to the news. Remove the news apps from your phone if possible.
- Tips for your computer: There may be news notifications showing up on your computer. You should turn them off. You may also want to install a site blocker if you are a regular news website user, in order to monitor your own habits
- Manage emails: Be sure to unsubscribe from any newsletters which may entice you to watch the news.
- Filter social media feeds: Unsubscribe from or unfollow social media feeds that repeatedly make you watch or worry about the current news.
- Adjust TV channels:You can remove channels from modern smart TVs or add restrictions to channels you no longer wish to watch. It’s okay to take off a couple days of the 24-hour news channel you’ve been watching. You can always re-add it if that’s too much.
2. Find a substitute activity
You might need some time and effort to alter your behavior if watching the news feels like an addiction to you.
For starters, you might want to focus just on changing this one habit in order to ensure that it becomes a permanent habit.
Almost always, the best way to break a bad habit is to find a great substitute for it. In order to break this habit, you will need a substitute activity you will enjoy as much as watching the news when presented with a trigger.
Try different activities until you find the right one. You may need to do some trial-and-error. Also, keep in mind that this bad habit cannot be replaced with any other habit that would be harmful (such as smoking), since this defeats the purpose.
You will be more likely to succeed if you plan directly how you will replace your habit the next day. Think about all the situations that may tempt you and figure out exactly what you intend to do.
For example, you could say “tomorrow, every time I enjoy the news on my phone, I will instead make some tea / play a game / talk to a colleague”.
These are just ideas. It’s really important that you think for yourself here: what works for your friends might not work for you. Play around and you’ll find what works for you over time.
3. Mistakes are for reflection
Although you’ve been trying to break this bad habit of watching the news, you might still fall back into it regularly.
Understand why you haven’t managed to break this habit and reflect on why it isn’t working for you so far.
The research shows that the best way to succeed in your new habit is to reflect on your old habits that are getting in the way. Consider all the obstacles and challenges you’ve encountered thus far. How will you handle them if they arise again? Try again with a better plan.
Alternatives to Watching The News
Everyone is different, so you should figure out what works for you. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Send a quick note or call your family and friends.
- Watch films that interest you (e.g. documentaries or tutorials on things you want to learn).
- Take a look at books or book summaries at Blinkist.
- Consider taking a walk instead and listening to an audiobook through audible.
- Journal about your day or whatever you want.
- Take a few minutes to meditate.
- Do some kind of breathing exercises for 10 minutes.
- Go outside with your dog for a walk.
- Practice some yoga for a few minutes.
- Practice photography: take some pictures with your phone or camera.
- Do a few sketches.
- There are reputable papers you can read every week and reliable podcasts you can listen to if you want to stay informed. Take your time to find sources you trust and enjoy.
What ever activity you choose, make sure to consider the situation you will encounter and make a specific plan.
A decade ago, staying in touch with the news was good for our mental health. Around the world, news channels have become increasingly negative in their portrayals of events, causing more anxiety, sadness, and fears amongst the audience.
Therefore, it is wise to reduce if not stop watching TV news. If you must watch TV, do not watch it on your phone or computer. Be sure to plan out what to do in place of watching the news.
By stopping watching the news, you will have more time and energy to devote to doing the things that you love and actually improve yourself mentally.