While many Americans enjoy staying up to date on daily news, instant access to the 24-hour news cycle can be overwhelming. Headline stress is not a clinical diagnosis, but many psychologists have started using the term to describe people who are overwhelmed and experience increased stress by viewing or reading the news. Headline stress effects all of us differently, but often leads to feelings of being overwhelmed and helpless which can result in increased levels of stress or anxiety.
In a year that included a global pandemic, a national election, widespread protesting, and countless other newsworthy events, it’s important to check-in with yourself and see how you’re feeling. According to research published in 2012, women are more likely to remember and experience stress associated with news than men, and younger people, Millennials and Gen Zers, are more likely than older generations to experience stress related to the news. However, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers follow closely behind their younger counterparts when it comes to news related stress. Checking in with yourself to see how the news may be impacting your day-to-day stress level and trying out a few tactics to reduce this stress can be beneficial.
1. Begin your day away from the news
Instead of reaching for news in the morning, try reaching for a good book, podcast, or turn on your favorite music. Everyone is different and understanding what helps you begin the morning positively can impact your stress level throughout the day.
2. Give yourself time to process
Viewing a natural disaster, social unrest, or any other distressing news piece can be an emotional experience. Allow your self time to sit with the emotions that are brought up. Make space for these emotions and don’t feel that you need to suppress them. Understanding our own emotional reactions can help alleviate stress.
3. Seek out positive news
“Good News” saw an all-time spike in Google searches during April of 2020 as people were eager to find some positive reading. A simple Google search can lead to websites dedicated to promoting positive news including stories on people working tirelessly to help those in need, leaps in science and innovation, and the classic viral baby and puppy videos. If you’re getting overwhelmed by the ongoing negative headlines, try finding a site that you enjoy!
4. Focus on what you can control
Upsetting stories displayed in the news are usually out of our control. Focusing on what is controllable and what isn’t can decrease the stress that is associated with reading the news.
5. Allow yourself to walk away
It is okay to walk away from the news. It can be a source of pride to stay up to date on news, but if that news consumption is harming your mental health, taking guilt-free breaks from the news may be key to reducing stress.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the news. If this stress becomes unmanageable, however, it’s important to reach out for help. Charlie Health’s expert team of clinicians’ support teens, young adults, and their families by providing personalized, online mental health treatments. Call today to find out which treatment program is right for you.