There’s no question that there is a lot of a bad stuff happening in the world today. While it isn’t often pleasant to think about, it is good to be aware of what’s going on at local, national, and international levels. To get this information, we turn to the news. We listen to reports about crime, famine, war, political unrest, injustice, and terrorism. Simply hearing reports of people suffering is often enough to move us and touch our hearts.
But it is possible to watch too much news. Watching perpetually negative news can affect your mood, and your mood can go on to negatively affect your thinking and behavior. It can affect how you perceive events in your own life, how your brain remembers and processes memories, and how much you worry about your own specific problems. Have you noticed an increase in stress when you watch too much news?
Why does modern news reporting make us feel this way? Today, reporters don’t stop at simply reporting the news. They tend to sensationalize news stories. This happens when they emphasize any potential negative outcomes of a story, no matter how low the risk of those negative outcomes might be. In fact, I’ve been on the receiving end of sensationalized reporting and it can be incredibly harmful. (I’m putting the final touch on my new book where I reveal the whole story behind my negative PR experience. If you want to stay up-to-date with the release sign-up for my newsletter or follow me on Facebook.)
This emotional, sensational way of presenting the news is a direct result of the 24-hour news coverage cycle that exists today. Journalists and reporters no longer have a few moments or one column in a newspaper to impartially report what is happening. The advent of the television and, especially the internet has created an environment where news is reported almost immediately. Everyone has access to the same story, the same visuals. So how does a journalist stand out? They begin to evaluate the story, in an effort to make it have a personal impact on each individual viewer.
Unfortunately, “evaluating” the story quickly turns into “sensationalizing” the story. And that is where the problem lies. When the news runs 24 hours a day, journalists quickly fill that time with emotional reports that no longer have a direct bearing on the original, informative story.
So if you have noticed that you are having trouble staying positive, try putting a limit on your news consumption. Don’t just leave the news on all night or check it every five minutes on your smartphone. Watch enough news to know what’s going on and stay informed, but once it moves past the main story and becomes more negative, turn it off.
What can you do instead? Here are some ideas:
Get out and exercise. I’ve shared the link between exercise and mental health many times. If you want to stay positive and push out negativity, moderate exercise is a great way to do it.
- Educate yourself. Watch an educational program, download a language-learning app, or practice a new skill.
- Spend time with family and friends. How long has it been since you had a really in-depth conversation with a loved one? When we make these connections and have real conversations, they refresh us and help us stay positive.
- Read a book. Reading is a great stress-reliever, helping your efforts to stay positive. Just make sure to choose reading material that is uplifting, rather than depressing.