Blog

24-hour news cycle
September 7, 2020

The 24-Hour News Cycle: How to Stay Informed Without Burning Out

If you feel like bad news is inescapable, you’re not alone. It seems you can hardly turn on the TV or open your favorite news app without seeing a disheartening, depressing or downright frightening headline. In addition to the ongoing climate change crisis and the extreme weather events it causes, 2020 has also brought a raging global pandemic, along with social unrest and large-scale protests around the world. 

You want to be a responsible citizen and keep up with current events, but not at the expense of your mental health. When breaking news happens at breakneck speed, how can you stay informed without burning out?

1. Set Limits

First, it’s essential to realize the difference between staying informed and allowing yourself to get swept away in a flood of bad news. Doomscrolling through the day’s headlines or feverishly checking your phone every time you hear the ping of an incoming news alert isn’t helping you be smarter, happier or better at your job. 

Limit your news consumption to specific periods – perhaps 20 minutes every morning and evening. Skim updates instead of going down the rabbit hole of upsetting or outrageous stories. News can take up a lot of mental bandwidth if you allow it to, and the resulting stress can start to affect your mood and overall health.

2. Pay Attention to How You Feel

If a near-constant barrage of terrible news has you heading for a burnout, it might start manifesting itself in physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, stomachaches, insomnia, anxiety and muscle tension. Take time each day to check in with yourself and do an inventory of how you feel after looking at the news. Is your heart rate elevated? Are you clenching your jaw or tensing the muscles in your neck and shoulders? Learn some relaxing breathing exercises you can employ when you start noticing these signs of being overwhelmed.  

3. Change How You Consume the News

These days, you have a variety of options for how, when and where you get your news. If you find TV news stressful because you worry you’re not getting all sides of a story, do research on your own to form a more balanced picture of what’s going on. Instead of staying in a confirmation bias bubble, be sure to deliberately seek news sources that challenge your beliefs and encourage you to look at things from a different angle. For example, if you’ve been getting most of your news updates from social media, try listening to reports on public radio instead. 

4. Take Breaks

Sometimes, even limiting your consumption of the day’s headlines to a few minutes a day can start to feel overwhelming. When that happens to you, it’s perfectly OK to step away from the news for as long as you need to. Take that time to focus on self-care instead. Your mental health will benefit. 

Activities you could do on news break days include anything that puts you in a positive frame of mind, such as volunteering, taking a walk outside, playing with your pets or children, spending quality time with your partner or creating a piece of art. Try giving your mind a weeklong vacation from stressful headlines and see how much better you feel. 

5. Brush up on Your History

Sometimes, reading about the past can offer us a fresh perspective on the present. Though we’re undoubtedly living through turbulent times, this isn’t the only tumultuous period in history. Consider reading about the fall of Rome, or finding a documentary about life in Italy during World War II. Learning how everyday people lived through these stressful circumstances can help you feel better about your present-day situation.

One of 2020’s Best Addiction Treatment Centers

The stress of the 24-hour news cycle and the anxiety it creates may have you looking for any outlet you can find. If you’ve found yourself relying on drugs or alcohol to get through your days, consider whether it’s time to seek treatment before your spiral of addiction worsens. 

As a recipient of Newsweek’s Best Addiction Treatment Centers 2020 rating, Beach House is here to provide world-class, evidence-based therapy in an environment of clinical excellence. Please call us anytime, 24/7, to speak with one of our admissions counselors. 

close