What Constant Exposure To Negative News Is Doing To Our Mental Health?

Knowing what is happening throughout the world and in one’s place is of immediate concern to anyone who cares for himself and the world at large. Today, with a flood of news channels and the Internet sites, there’s been no dearth of news of any sort anywhere.

One can simply at the touch of their smart screens know anything and everything sitting in any part of the world. This extraordinary access to breaking instant news has been the trending thing nowadays be it the medium of television or the internet.

Just the ability to access news from one’s pocket has lead to people resorting to watching news sans any discrimination.

There is also a downside to this upswing ‘breaking news’ trend if people are not mindful of what they are watching and take it more real than the reality that they know that can get them adversely affected at times.

What Nonstop Exposure To Negative News Is Doing To Our Mental Health?

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If some global statistics are to be taken into account, recent surveys from the American Psychological Association has found that for many Americans, “news consumption has a downside.”

More than half of the Americans report that the news causes them stress, and many reports going through anxiety, fatigue or sleep loss as the survey shows.

Yet one in ten adults check the news every hour, and on the whole 20% of Americans report “constantly” monitoring their social media feeds, which often makes them vulnerable to the latest news headlines, even if they like it or not.

Of course, quite many people feel it’s valuable to stay informed. And it’s intelligible that news one find concerning could produce stress and anxiety.

“The way the news is presented and the way that one accesses news has changed significantly over the last 15 to 20 years,” exclaims one of the professors of psychology at Sussex University in the UK. He also notes that these changes have often been detrimental to one’s general mental health.

Today’s so-called breaking news borders on “increasingly visual and shocking” news. These bystander-gained media can be so intense that they can cause symptoms of acute stress like problems of sleeping, mood swings, aggressive behavior or in rare cases PTSD.

Effects Of Watching The Negative News On One’s Health

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Some of the research has shown that negative TV news has been a significant mood-changer, and the moods it tends to generate are gloominess and anxiety.

Studies also revealed that this change in mood aggravates the viewer’s personal worries which though are not instantly relevant to the news stories being broadcast.

While heightened anxiety and stress are cause enough to be wary of overplaying it when it caters to the news, these and other mental health disorders can also fuel physical ailments as well.

Stress-related hormones like cortisol have been linked to inflammation that is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and additional cumbersome health concerns.

So if the evidence suggests that this kind of news can stress people out, then why do people keep asking for more?

For one thing, it’s entertaining. Studies point out that the human brain is also hooked up to pay attention to information that scares or unsettles us which is a concept known as “negativity bias.”

There are researchers who explain that the human brain is attracted to troubling information as it’s believably programmed by default to detect threats, not to overlook them.

This makes it hard for us to ignore the negatives and seek out the positives around us. The brain’s apparent predisposition to go negative is reflected in the news we consume.

While one’s brain may find the latest news enthralling, it’s hard to argue that all of that news is really illuminating. There’s this sense of watching the news in order to be an informed citizen, but a lot of what is passing off as news is gossip raised to a sophisticated level.

And if the news we consume is getting one worked up or worried then some would say this is how the goal of much of today’s coverage is perhaps not doing one’s health any favors. But other experts (including health) say the effect news has on a person’s health varies from one individual to another.

One must always try to see how the news changes the mood or makes the thoughts more negative. If a news-induced surge of pessimism is noticed, then taking a breather with mood-lifting activities like hearing to music, exercising or watching something that makes them laugh may all help in counteracting those dark vibes.

To sum it up, being aware and notified is a big thing. But when it comes to the health, too much news can spell trouble. At the very least, don’t watch or read the news before bed.

What Is Mental Health?

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Mental health includes one’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how one may think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how to handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is crucial at every stage of life, from teens and youth through adulthood.

Over the course of life, if one experiences mental health problems, thinking, mood, and behavioral problems can also be affected. Many factors add to mental health difficulties, including:

  • Biological factors, like genes or brain chemistry,
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse,
  • Past family history of mental health problems.

Mental health problems are normal but help is available. People with mental health issues can get better and many will realize completely.

Mental Health And Wellness  – How To Keep Oneself Mentally Healthy?

Positive mental health allows people to:

  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways To Maintain Positive Mental Health Include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills.

Types Of News & Their Varied Impact!

There are various types of news in every news organization that are categorically separated from one another in the best interests of the audiences to whom the news are targeted.

Though there’s a difference in distinguishing the categories from one organization to another, broadly the news categories can be summarised as below in the following sections:

  • International
  • Local or National news
  • Politics
  • Science & Technology
  • Nature & Environmental Hazards
  • Sports & Controversies
  • Lifestyle or gossip section
  • Trade & Market news
  • Business news.

Though, it is up to the organizational ethics of a news agency to decide where to draw the lines to differentiate between one category from the other.

Tabloids, which write more about politics or celebrities and controversies than general news, focus on the typical “hard news” or the news about crime, politics, etc which are of substantial “human interest” that focuses the impact that these have on general public about people in the news.

Tabloids obviously prefer the latter, the news that garners maximum public interest and boosts their circulation.

The domestic or national news is the most popular type of news almost in any part of the globe, closely followed by international, local, and regional news.

Reflecting political and media structures, it is seen that regional news is most important in Germany wherein Local news matters more in a vast nation like the United States where city newspapers and local TV stations have also become increasingly a core part of their media diet.

If one samples the news interests of urban Brazil, they tend to give high importance on business and financial news, science, and technology news, and health and education news.

What Types Of News Are “Commonly” Seen?

So, the discussion of the various categories of news that can significantly impact one’s mental health can be boiled down to two basic categories: A. Hard news and B. Soft news.

Hard News: Any news that is highly event-oriented and centered on “what, when, where and why” that can tickle the curiosity or imagination of the audience. Here, the major thrust of any newspaper is hard news.

Hard news is the Breaking/Flash news on serious crime like terrorist attacks, politics, disasters, etc like for example, earthquakes, floods or tsunamis or other natural disasters, economic disasters, foreign affairs, political and other controversies and so on.

Soft News: As the name verily suggests, it is all about the lighter side of the news. Hence, soft news is news about entertainment, celebs, human interest stories, and lesser important crime.

This has also ample chances to focus on reasons, background, analysis, and interpretation. A mere account of events and a plain summary of occasions simply cannot satisfy the readers. This is a segment that will likely enter beneath the upper crust of hard news.

Which Age Group Watches Most Of The News?

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Looking at the samples collected worldwide, one can see some significant differences by age and gender.

It is common knowledge that while men are more fascinated by sports news, political news, or business and economic news, on the other hand, women place more importance on health and education news, fashion & accessories news, local news, and especially entertainment and celebrity news.

In general, with age men show more interest in political and economic news as they grow older. In contrast, entertainment, sports, science, and technology news are of serious interest for younger groups.

The degree of attentiveness when it comes to political news differs considerably by age and gender. In general, it is an accepted truth that men take a more active interest than women, and older people more than the young.

There are nevertheless some exceptions to the case in Germany, but less so in the UK where younger people display interest in politics close to the average. There is no visible enthusiasm for politics amongst older groups in the UK either.

On the overall basis, political news is much more valued but it is factually evident that entertainment news is way more polarised. People either love it or hate it as the interest is driven by women far more than by men and of course, by the people under 45 years of age.

International news, however, has the least number of people who say they are disinterested when compared with the other main categories.

This may also be for the fact that this category includes such a wide range of stories or because it is less socially acceptable to say as one cannot be engrossed in events outside their own country.

How Does News Impact One’s Health And How To Avoid Mental illness?

In an age of information where news spreads so quickly, people can be equally inundated through social media channels as much or even more than the traditional media channels like television, print, or even age-old radio, given the dominating presence of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn these days.

Everything that is covered as news on these platforms tends to raise an eyebrow for many a youngster and elder people alike as there is more dependence on social media news by the day.

Shocking or tragic events like the Humboldt bus crash or Toronto van attack or stock market crash can simply crash many hearts at the blink of an eye. In certain cases, people get more obsessed owing to a variety of reasons that best differs from one individual to another.

There’s enough evidence which says seeing those stories frequently really does have an impact on us. The compelling use of social media and the obsession that abounds it makes younger people fall prey to more loneliness, depression, or anxiety.

Some of these feelings also arise due to social comparison with one’s peers, friends or colleagues which victimizes young people easily. Psychologists too say that online connections can even put stress on one’s mental health.

Since, there is hardly any way of giving up watching news that is everywhere and all over the place because of the internet, the way to deal with mental anxiety problems caused due to negative news is only by taking certain precautions such as altering one’s lifestyle in a healthy manner that hardly feeds on daily and shocking news, increasing one’s social circle offline rather online, having enough physical activity and a disciplined life, setting up goals that can take away one’s focus from ingesting news everywhere and then finding a way out to local, community, family, and personal issues that can also be triggered by picking up news from unnecessary sources.

Ultimately, having a problem-solving mindset is the key to enhance one’s worldly success and score high on enhancing their mental wellness.

 

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