Watching the news is supposed to help keep you informed. It gives you something to talk about and helps you make better decisions. Of course, that’s if you’re only watching it in small doses. Today, we never get a break. From social media to TV, it’s everywhere. All news all the time isn’t healthy, and that’s why you should stop watching the news and move on to better alternatives.
News Is Too Negative
Despite all the positive things that happen in the world daily, most news outlets only report on the negative events. Even worse, they focus on sensationalism, using catchy headlines that inspire stress, fear, and anxiety. That’s why you’ll often see news media rehashing the same disaster stories over and over hour after hour.
The constant exposure to negative news, especially when no solution is offered and there’s nothing you can do about it, hurts your mental health. VeryWellMind interviewed several licensed mental health experts about this problem, and they had this to say about watching the news:
- Even using the news as background noise negatively affects your mood
- Negative stories can activate your fight or flight response
- Just 14 minutes of negative news a day increases sad and anxious moods
The feedback proves that all the negativity isn’t healthy, meaning you need to stop watching the news. You don’t have to stop staying informed, but the current way you watch could very well be the reason for higher levels of stress, anxiety, bad moods, sleep problems, and even procrastination, as you feel depressed over all that’s wrong with the world.
News Can Be Overly Biased
In addition to negative news, it’s hard to stay truly informed when people tend to opt for news sources that best conform to their own views. Instead of learning the facts, you’re left more with opinions that can color your world view. That’s often the issue with consuming news on social media. The algorithms try to only show you stories that fit with your profile versus giving you a more well-rounded set of stories.
By creating tunnel vision, it makes it hard to talk to anyone else that may share different views. This can affect your social life, cause problems with co-workers, and even affect how others see you online when you share news stories. And, as we all know, fake news runs rampant on social media anyway.
Of course, biased news isn’t just on social media. Most major news outlets are considered to lean more one way than the other. Once again, that’s not a healthy way to consume news.
Stop Watching the News
Before you say you have to watch the news, you don’t have to completely stop. It’s more about stopping the way you currently watch and creating a healthier news habit.
For example, several of my local stations have news on in the afternoons for four hours at a time. No one, unless watching the news is your job, should watch that much, but people become addicted and fear missing out on a breaking story. You probably have alerts on your phone to quickly check breaking news. You may even have feed readers pulling in stories from numerous sources.
You could easily find yourself spending hours every day consuming the news from phone apps, TV, websites, and more. That’s far too much negativity. As a result, you’re hurting your mood and your productivity.
Reducing Your News Consumption
The first step is to drastically reduce how much news you watch. In most cases, you can get all the headlines you truly need within 15 minutes or less a day. The key is focusing just on what you need, such as local headlines that may directly affect you, a few national stories that may be of interest, and a few niche-specific stories for your job, hobby, or personal interests.
Some quick ways to stop watching the news, or at least curbing your habit, include:
- Set a daily time limit for news
- Pick a few reliable news sources and stick to those
- Use a feed reader to only pull in headlines in certain topics and from certain sources
- Limit yourself to only what’s useful or important to you
- Avoid social media news
- Turn off news notifications or consider uninstalling the news apps completely
You can also subscribe to a daily digest that you can customize. These let you get a brief overview designed for you. The stories are often summarized to make them easier to digest without bias or sensationalism. A few good options include:
Healthy Alternatives to News
To make it easier to stop watching the news, replace your news time with healthier and more productive alternatives. Instead of dwelling on numerous negative news stories, read a book. Listen to a self-improvement podcast. Watch YouTube videos that teach you a new skill. Take a class to increase your skills for your career.
You could even spend time exercising and meditating to help let go of any stress the news has caused you. Most importantly, spend more time focusing on you versus the news, and you’ll find yourself becoming happier, less stressed, and more productive overall.