It can be hard to stay away from the news these days with the constant barrage of news related to COVID-19. Thanks to our smartphones, 24-hour news cycle, and social media, the sheer volume and intensity can be overwhelming. While we are all practicing “social distancing” during this pandemic, a bit of “information distancing” may not be so bad. So how do you regulate consumption of news when it’s everywhere you look?
Here are 5 media survival tips to manage your intake of news and keep your stress levels low:
Designate “news time”
The news only takes up as much time as we allow. According to Dr. Ellen Hendrickson, a psychologist at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorder, “If we find ourselves taking the clickbait whenever we check email, or if the TV is always on in the background, we’re going to find ourselves sucked down a vortex hole of news.” You don’t have to think about news as all-or-nothing. Rather schedule some time for daily news consumption then disengage.
Turn on the filter
When the news overwhelms you, it’s important to bail out your metaphorical boat by blocking out unnecessary incoming information, says Dr. Hendrickson. Go through your inbox and cancel subscriptions you don’t read. Reduce unwanted junk and think it through before you submit your email address to a website—it may be sold to other sites that will infiltrate your inbox with more news.
Only look at trusted sources
In this digital era of internet journalists, it’s hard to sift through what’s real and what’s fake. Elizabeth Stoycheff, associate professor of communication at Wayne State University, suggests sticking only with trusted news apps and news websites directly. She says these organizations produce news, usually in the spirit of serving the public interest. There, you’ll see a more complete range of political information, not just content that’s been curated for you.
Be mindful about whom you talk to about news
Very often others can dramatically impact how you internalize news. Sometimes people’s political, social and environmental biases can lead to pointless arguments. Keep conversations limited and to the point with such people. On the other hand, someone knowledgeable about given topics can share and explain information to you in an educated and concise way. Find people you trust who can complement the information you consume instead of hindering your news intake.
Read/watch other things you find interesting
With so much access to online courses and streaming content on a wide array of topics, there is so much out there besides the news. Focus on things you enjoy – whether it’s a documentary about history or nature, biographies, art, etc. there is so much to learn and enjoy. Consider using mindless news consumption time more productively by focusing on areas that help you meet your personal and professional goals.