Life today can mean constant exposure to one stressful news cycle after another. We are inundated with headlines, images, and stories of news events from around the globe. It is essential to stay informed, and taking a stand on issues that we are passionate about helps us better understand and participate in the world we live in. However, being so plugged into the news can be tough on our mental health, especially during intense media coverage of gun violence, the war in Ukraine, the rising cost of living, and conflicts on environmental and social issues.
Health Psychology and the American Psychological Association tell us that high levels of media exposure tend to be associated with psychological distress.” What are the best ways to navigate interacting with the news and strike a balance between staying educated and taking care of ourselves mentally and emotionally? Here are a few tips and ideas that can help.
- Stick to a few trustworthy news sources.
- Set essential boundaries for yourself.
- Give yourself full permission to tune out temporarily.
- Make time for stress relief and self-care activities.
- Take little action steps.
When you take care of your mental health, you are in a better place to assist others. One way to help yourself and your fellow humans is to think about small, tangible actions you can take right now. For instance, make your voice heard through political action, attend a protest, donate to a reputable nonprofit directly helping people affected by a crisis, or volunteer at a local organization.
The 19th-century German theologian Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch references Tractate Shabbat (30b) in his approach to mental health: “Judaism never considered pain, sorrow, self-affliction, or sadness to be reasonable goals. The opposite is true; one should pursue happiness, bliss, cheer, joy, and delight. For the Shechina (Divine Presence) does not dwell in a place of sadness; it dwells only in a place where happiness reigns.”
We live in challenging times, and pretending everything is okay doesn’t help. But finding ways to celebrate the small things that bring joy can make a difference. Talking with friends and professionals can also bring relief to our well-being. Let’s take a breath when we need to.
Alissa C Zuchman, Ph.D.