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How to Have a Healthy Relationship with the News

Managing your news consumption for a balanced life.

Reading the news online and in a newspaper

More and more lately, I am hearing—and having—a version of this conversation:

“How are you doing?” 

“Oh, I’m ok. Stressed out.”

“Oh no, what’s going on?”

“You know—just reading the news every day is too much!”

News is, well, nothing new. The human desire to understand the world, to gain perspective, information and insight on happenings far outside our own lives, is as ancient as it is healthy and constructive.

But in the modern age, news sources are so plentiful, and input is so constant, that our pursuit of knowing what’s happening in the world can end up having a negative cumulative effect on our well-being.

There’s a healthy middle ground between willful ignorance and overstimulation that allows you to interact with the news in a way that serves your growth, knowledge and wisdom. Here are some tips to assess whether you have a healthy relationship with the headlines—and how to adjust if you’re getting too much “Extra, Extra.”

Seek Out Reliable News Sources
Your friends and family may share news stories that alarm or excite them. But just because you love and trust your people doesn’t mean they are news experts. If you’re going to click on something that comes up on a social media feed, first peek at the source. If it’s not a publication you’re familiar and comfortable with, think twice before spending your precious news energy on it. 

Know When and How to Take a Break
“Step away from the headlines” is easy enough to say, but with news coming your way from phone alerts to that screen at the gas pump, it can feel daunting to be in control of your own boundaries around news consumption. Katherine C. Nordal, Ph.D., the American Psychological Association’s executive director for professional practice, tells Medial News Today that it’s healthy and important to take a break from the news whenever you feel your overall stress level getting unmanageable. “Read enough to stay informed,” she said, “but then plan activities that give you a regular break from the issues and the stress they might cause.”

Empower Yourself
Your impulse to be in the know is a positive one, to the extent that understanding the world around you can inspire you to invest energy into making it a better place. Choosing a couple of areas you are most passionate about, from disaster relief efforts to public education campaigns, can take the stress out of the news cycle and help you focus on organizations you can support, hours you can volunteer and informed conversations you can have with the people in your life.

What’s your relationship with the headlines like these days?

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