The other day, one of my clients told me that her two teenage children are afraid. They worry that humans are destroying the planet and none of us are safe, and they don't see a hopeful future for themselves. I was sad to hear that her vibrant, talented kids feel that way. Maybe it's because these days, it’s nearly impossible to turn on the TV or flip open a news app without being bombarded with negativity. Our collective media saturation is reaching unprecedented heights, with information available around the clock! Many of us spend hours staring at screens, consuming posts and articles, listening to interviews, and watching video footage of all the terrible things that are happening around us. But what is all this media doing to our health and well-being? And is the world really that terrible?
Research shows that we may be literally hard-wired for bad news. Negative news tends to grab our attention over positive news. And our media outlets are very aware of this bias. Our hard wiring was probably an evolutionary advantage when our news was local. After all, if you live in south Florida, it's very helpful to pay attention to the impending disaster of hurricane Irma. The problem is that we are now bombarded with fear-inducing news about situations around the world that we have no control over. It's wreaking havoc on our nervous systems.
So many people have sacrificed their own mental, emotional, and physical health in the name of “staying connected,” and “keeping in the loop.” Because our society values information so much, those who are “in the know” are perceived to be smarter and more competent (even though studies have debunked that notion). Therefore, it’s not uncommon to go into retail stores, doctor’s offices, or even your friend’s homes, and be confronted by a blaring TV or radio. The barrage of bad news is incessant! However, there is a quiet revolution taking place, as more people are tuning out the news and tuning into their inner joy instead.
It may be worth getting in the habit of turning off the TV, putting down the papers, logging off Facebook, and seeking peace and quiet instead. Here are some things that might happen when you take a break from the news:
1. You’ll lessen your body’s stress responses
Our body’s natural “fight or flight” system is designed to turn on in response to fear, and fear is something that the media feeds on. The constant stories of violent attacks, corruption, natural disasters, and disease usually aren’t relevant to our daily lives, and yet our bodies are still kicking out stress hormones anyway. When you can stem the tide of scary words and imagery, your body can relax a bit more, and in this relaxation mode is where true healing can happen.
2. You’ll find joy and gratitude easier
Having a daily gratitude practice is hugely beneficial, as is tapping into your positivity throughout the day, but these can be so much harder when you’re hooked up to an IV of death and destruction. The news does occasionally feature happy stories, but the overriding theme is negative, which can affect how you perceive the world over time. Turning off the anxiety-producing newsreel can make space for you to focus on everything that’s good in your life.
3. You’ll be more open to receive guidance
The Universe is constantly trying to communicate with you, but the overabundance of external stimuli can make it hard to hear those messages. It’s only in the peace and quiet that we can listen to our angels and guides, and find the answers that we’re seeking. Regular media consumption, however, can throw our minds into a spiral of fear, worry, and anger. Swap your daily news habit for a daily meditation habit and notice how much more aligned and supported you feel.
4. You’ll have more time for what matters
Our time here on Earth is short, so why do so many of us spend hours each week watching, reading, or listening to the news? Overall, the effects of the media are more negative than they are positive, and there are probably dozens of other things you would get more value from anyway. Unplugging for even just an hour a day can make space in your schedule for things that bring you joy and meaning, like spending time with family, investing in your hobbies, or indulging in your self-care.
5. You’ll feel better about yourself
If there is one thing the media is especially good at, it’s making us feel inadequate. Whether you’re consciously aware of it or not, subtle messages are being launched into your mind every time you turn on the TV, look at a magazine, or scroll through social media. After a while, you can start to feel pretty worthless, either for not looking a certain way, not “doing enough to help,” or not being “where you should be by now.” Taking a break from the news can help you regain your sense of self-worth and recalibrate your settings to point to what you truly desire, not what everyone else thinks you should.
Life is all about finding balance, and that applies to our media and news consumption too. There’s no need to throw your television set in the trash or cut your smartphone contract, in order for you to get some peace of mind. Start slowly, take lots of breaks, and really tune into how your body/mind/spirit respond to each block of news time you eat up. Eventually, you may notice that you feel so much better without it.