We’ve all grown up thinking that responsible adults keep themselves informed so we find ourselves watching the news constantly. We then find ourselves unable to stop watching.
The news can fall into the “too much of a good thing” category. When we watch, the stories can become addictive. We feel like we should watch more in order to find out what happens next. Filled with danger and negative information, a lot of news is selected to draw people in and keep watching—especially the kind you see on television or posted online.
The News and Our Mental Health
All that negative news can affect the way we think and feel. We can start to see the world as unsafe and full of emergencies. If you ever find yourself glued to the TV for some time, you’ll find that taking a break you feel better. Why? Because it can be a source of anxiety and stress. Once you’ve become accustomed to a steady stream of information, it’s hard to quit.
Ways to Limit or Stop Watching the News
If it is disrupting your wellbeing, then pulling back on your consumption might be a good idea. If you’d like to go on a news diet, then the following pointers might help you kick your habit.
It’s a delicate balance. You need to know enough about the outside world to be engaged and safe, but you don’t want to let it consume you. Instead of exposing yourself to a flow of 24/7 news, set specific times to take it in. Decide what’s best for you.
For example, perhaps the local nightly news on television is your favorite source. Decide to watch that each day and let go of all the other sources throughout the day. When you’re not watching the scheduled nightly news go about and enjoy your life.
Cut Your Electronic Ties
Much of our news comes from electronic sources. This means we have access every time we open our laptop, pick up our phone, or turn on the television. It is everywhere.
However, you do have control of how much you’re exposed to. You can decide your level of access. You can turn off your notifications. If you’re comfortable doing it, you can delete your news apps on your phone, tablets, and computers. Don’t allow news shares or prompts on your social media feeds. Once you start to rid yourself of your electronic sources, you start to realize just how inundated you once were.
Curate Your Sources
Decide what’s important to you. Get creative about your sources. Very often, we take the path of least resistance and take the news that’s easily available. There are all kinds of other sources that may be of interest to you. Take the time to explore and manage your sources.
Podcasts, for instance, are an excellent source. You can even try an oldie-but-goodie — a daily paper! You can also read books, subscribe to magazines, or find a non-fiction book club to discuss popular issues. There are many sources and you control what you want.
Some people watch the news constantly because of their concern for the plight of others. Their empathetic nature makes them feel responsible for others. We all feel this way sometimes. If your concern for others is causing your addiction, you might want to turn off the news and find ways to help instead.
Watching the news can make us feel helpless. Focusing energy on acting to help others, rather than watching others go through crisis, can curb addiction and encourage personal growth at the same time. Look online or throughout your area to see what you can do to help others.
Redirect Your Energy
Choose a convenient and safe activity to do to redirect your desire for news. You could choose to breathe slowly and deeply for two minutes. If you have a short video game app on your phone, you could choose to turn to that instead. You could even take a brisk walk around your home or office.
Having one activity to do instead of taking in the news allows your mind to easily choose one activity for another. You can tell yourself “If I feel like watching the news, I will jump up and down for 30 seconds.” Allowing yourself to quickly redirect your energy is a simple way to curb your habit.
For some people, finding ways to stop watching might require help. Just like any other habit or addiction, sheer willpower and lifestyle changes may not be enough to stop. Some people need outside help. Fortunately, there are places to seek assistance.
If your addiction is negatively impacting your relationships or mental health and you’ve been unsuccessful at stopping yourself, then getting outside help might be the next step.
There are a number of avenues for you to get help. A physician or therapist can help you manage your addiction. Either through an in-person session or through a telehealth meeting, you can meet with someone to help you take control of your addiction.
A certified hypnotist can also help you with changing your habits. Hypnotism is an accepted and valid method, used by many therapists, to help clients change their behaviors. Eli Bliliuos from the NYC Hypnosis Center says, “a skilled hypnotist will use a combination of hypnotic suggestions and visual imagery to decrease your desire for more news”. To visit the NYC Hypnosis Center website, click here. Hypnosis sessions can be done in person, through a video call, or through pre-recorded audio. For many people, hypnosis can be an effective method of changing behavior.
Finding a Middle Ground
The amount of news that’s right for you to consume is not the same for each person. However, it’s essential that you find the sweet spot for your consumption. In this day and age, keeping yourself updated and informed is vital. What’s more important, however, is maintaining your physical and mental health —and only you can decide how much is right for you. If you do need to stop watching the news, there’s always help available.