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Is watching the nightly news making you sick? It may be contributing!
Stress is everywhere these days. And if you are like so many people, you may be feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. And you may be engaging in an activity every day that can seriously raise stress levels. You may not even be aware of it. Is this your pattern? You get home from work and you decide to turn on the evening news. The stories you hear are all about the latest Hollywood or political scandal, natural disasters, major accidents, child abductions, murder, wars, and a host of other things that make us angry, frustrated, or sad.
After watching a newscast, how do you feel? Relaxed? Calm? Probably not. In fact, most people feel angry, scared, frustrated, or tense. And unfortunately, television news bases which stories they air based on what type of stories will get the best ratings. Happy news and heartwarming stories do not get the type of ratings that a negative, scandalous and upsetting story gets. Big drama in the news equals big ratings. Humans simply can’t stop themselves from being drawn into the excitement or tragedy.
Psychology Today looks at the trend of fear-based media and the belief that “If it bleeds, it leads.”
News programming uses a hierarchy if it bleeds, it leads. Fear-based news programming has two aims. The first is to grab the viewer’s attention. In the news media, this is called the teaser. The second aim is to persuade the viewer that the solution for reducing the identified fear will be in the news story. If a teaser asks, “What’s in your tap water that YOU need to know about?” a viewer will likely tune in to get the up-to-date information to ensure safety. The success of fear-based news relies on presenting dramatic anecdotes in place of scientific evidence, promoting isolated events as trends, depicting categories of people as dangerous and replacing optimism with fatalistic thinking.
So you regularly watch the news, padded with horrible, anger-invoking, frustrating, infuriating stories that aim to draw the most viewers. And this format works because it absolutely DOES grab our attention. But watching this negative-focused media creates a natural stress response in the body. The body tenses up, your blood pressure increases, and you release cortisol. You become more stressed than is healthy. And an increase of stress without relief of that tension can create physical, mental, and emotional illness. So the nightly news very well could be making you sick, depending on how your respond to the stories that are being covered.
Stress is one form of toxicity in our body….particularly chronic, long-term stress. And because of this, it is absolutely vital that you do what you can to manage and reduce stress to help prevent illness. One easy way to reduce your stress level is to turn off the news.
Here are some things you can do instead
- Choose to watch a rerun of a great sitcom or movie and let yourself laugh. Laughter is a great way to relieve stress!
- Read a great book. Let yourself get lost in a great work of fiction, or fill your spirit with a book that will help to improve your life.
- Go for a walk. Take the dog or walk with your spouse, partner, children, or a friend. Releasing endorphins through exercise reduces stress and helps you to feel better.
- Create something. Work on a craft project, write a short story or poem, paint a picture, or bake something new. Creating something new is very stress-reducing!
- Have a conversation! Spending time in conversation with a family member or friend allows you to connect and let go of stress from your day!
Limit the amount of time you spend watching news programs along with other negative programs. It only takes a little time to get caught up with what is happening in the world. You do not need to be glued to the television watching endless news programs.
Just remember that the more nightly news you watch, the more stressed out you will be. See how much more relaxed you are if you simply turn off the news more often. Your health will benefit greatly.