One of the first things professionals recommend when treating depression and anxiety is to stop watching the news. We’re hesitant to stop watching altogether because we feel it’s our civic duty to stay informed, to know what’s going on in the world so that we can somehow make a positive impact in our own way. For many of us, though, watching the news doesn’t actually help us effect positive changes, it only overwhelms, confuses and depresses us. Our stress and anxiety levels can easily rise to dangerous levels as we watch the horrors taking place around the world. We’re deeply saddened at the senselessness of violence, the devastation of atrocities, the grief of loss. Even though the things we’re seeing might not affect us directly or personally, we still feel impacted by them. We still feel pain at the sight of other people in pain. Our empathy causes us to feel for other people, even if they’re strangers, even if they’re halfway across the world.
One thing to keep in mind is that we can stay informed and up to date on current events without watching the news and hearing negative, triggering stories back to back. The way our news is presented normalizes violence and tragedy. It desensitizes us to the worst elements of human nature. It doesn’t have an equal balance of uplifting, positive stories to offset all of the negativity. We can make the choice to get our news in other ways, through online newspapers, email newsletters or social media, all of which allow us a bit more control in terms of filtering out what we do and don’t want to see. When we read the news as opposed to watching a news program, we can skip over headlines we’re not ready to read and save them for later, or avoid reading them altogether. When we watch the news, it’s much harder to pick and choose what stories we’re allowing into our consciousness. We’re being inundated with things that are difficult to watch, and often at the start of our day, which can set the tone for us to have a more stressful day than we might otherwise have had.
Another thing to remember is that before the advent of modern technology, we didn’t have access to all of the world’s news. We only knew what was happening in our own communities, and we only had to be concerned with what was happening to us, what was impacting us and our networks. Some would argue we’re being overly stimulated, not to mention desensitized, by knowing so much, all the time, about everything. There is something to be said for limiting our exposure to such difficult things, for the sake of our peace of mind. If you’re feeling depressed or anxious and you regularly watch the news, try giving it a break and see if you feel better.
Riverside Recovery understands all of the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.