Being in the Now, Not Just in the Know: How to avoid news anxiety
It seems like there’s no way to escape the news these days. There’s breaking news on our Facebook feeds and unwanted opinions on Twitter, and there are even play-by-play Tik Toks on the latest courtroom dramas. It’s exhausting.
Is it essential to stay informed? Sure. It’s part of being a good citizen. However, too much news can become overwhelming and cause anxiety over time. It’s like listening to Chicken Little yelling in your ear “the sky is falling.”
There IS a way to balance being in the “know” and being in the “now.”
Honor Your Time
First and foremost, if you want to decrease your anxiety about current events, you need to limit your exposure to them. The first thing so many people do in the morning is to check their social media feeds. While you may be curious about what your friends did on Friday night, this can easily lead you down the spiral of outraged headlines.
Do yourself a favor and wait before you look at the phone in the morning. Start with 10 minutes. Then, slowly extend the time to give yourself a whole morning routine where you can focus on what you’re feeling in the moment. Focus on what you’re going through now. When you check your phone for the latest updates, you are mentally ready for whatever the world has for you.
Similarly, if you want to stay informed on current events, set a time where you can sit down and take in the news. Maybe it’s while you’re eating breakfast or driving home from work. No matter how you take in the information, block it in your schedule so you’re not looking at your phone for updates throughout the day.
Be Selective With Your Sources
Another thing to help funnel how much information you receive every day is to be selective with your sources.
I stick to reading the New York Times and watching mainstream media. However, whether you are reading the paper, scrolling online, or listening to a podcast, try to choose maybe two or three sources you trust to get your information. You save yourself from facing the same negative headline from ten different sources by limiting them. If you are worried about whether or not your news is reliable, some resources can help you make a more informed decision about the media you’re consuming.
If you scroll through Instagram during lunch, look at who you’re following and what their posts make you feel. If they make you feel anxious, unfollow them. If they inspire you, follow them and follow other accounts like them. The exciting thing about the internet today is how much control you have over what you see on social media. You decide what inspires you today.
Ask Yourself What You Can Do NOW
The most challenging feeling that can come from constantly seeing terrible news is the feeling of hopelessness. You feel like everything is awful, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
The best way to combat this feeling is to do something: sign a petition, volunteer, or do something nice for someone else. You could even write about it. Every little thing you do could affect someone else’s life. Follow the call inside you to do something.
Taking action is what grounds you in the “now.” These terrible things in the news may have already happened or will happen in the future, but you are making a difference NOW even if it’s just for yourself.
The news can be scary and it can be overwhelming. However, it’s also essential that you appreciate the mundane information of your everyday life. Focus on your now because, before you know it, those moments will become history.