With news this intense and upsetting, we need to monitor our own consumption very carefully.
Remember the days when we were “only” stressed out by an upcoming election—and maybe some pole dancing at the Super Bowl? With COVID-19, stress levels have skyrocketed like never before, so self-care is no longer optional. It’s essential. While I’ve written in the past about the benefits of moderating news intake, let’s revisit that topic in light of our current coronavirus situation and resulting news avalanche.
Start the Day Mindfully
If you normally wake up and flip on the morning TV news or wake up and grab your phone to look at the headlines, consider starting the day with a gentler on-ramp. Save the news check for after you’ve had time to shore up your mental reserves through a mindfulness practice, yoga, or a walk (if possible in your area).
One and Done
In 2018, Time reported, “one in 10 adults checks the news every hour, and fully 20% of Americans report constantly monitoring their social media feeds—which often exposes them to the latest news headlines.” That behavior, the American Psychological Association says, increases anxiety.
So now, more than ever, check the news once a day only. We need to stay informed so we can comply with what health officials and local authorities are asking us to do. But with news this intense, one touch-base a day is plenty, so news doesn’t become an obsession or add fuel to the fire of fear. If you are particularly prone to anxiety, ask your partner or a trusted friend to keep you updated on strictly need-to-know basis.
Also, “quality over quantity” has never been more important than now. Consume news from reputable sources only, then move on to other activities. For a positive spin—well, as positive as we can be right now—check out GNN, or the Good News Network. Established in 1997, it’s on a mission to report something that will make us smile.
Turn off Notifications
If you have created news alerts or push notifications on your phone, consider disabling those for now. That way you can seek the news out on your own, not have it following you around all day.
And End the Day Mindfully
Turn the area around your bed into a sanctuary—with pillows, books, cozy socks, faux candles, whatever, but do not look at that phone! Nothing will pop you awake at 2 a.m. faster than scrolling through your phone at bedtime, Googling the symptoms of coronavirus.
Want more? Read the uplifting story “COVID-19 and the Truth About Happiness” by our editor, Ben Nussbaum.