Staying Informed and Your Mental Health
It is important to stay informed. However, it is equally important to take care of your mental health. With the amount of time we spend using technology and social media platforms, we are constantly bombarded with the latest stories and may feel pressured to always know what is going on in the world. Don’t forget, having a 24/7 news cycle that is always available on our phones is something fairly new for humans to comprehend. It is important to remember that you cannot be very productive with the information you are consuming if you are not first and foremost taking care of your mental health. If checking the news has been causing you to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or powerless, it may be time to reform your relationship with consuming news. Follow along for some tips on staying informed and your mental health!
Set Time Limits
Limiting the amount of time you spend looking at the news or social media can drastically improve your mental health. To begin, set an actual timer for yourself and do not allow yourself to continue consuming news once the timer has gone off. You can experiment with different time limits until you find the perfect amount of time for you. Everyone is different, so this is a personal journey. The goal is to get to a point where you consume enough to feel informed, but not so much that it negatively impacts your productivity or ability to be present in other areas of your life.
Furthermore, you may want to consider turning off your notifications. Notifications act as temptations. If you have already hit your news time limit, but a notification pops up, it can suck you back in, causing you to ignore your own boundaries. The truth is consuming news and digital content is addicting! Setting boundaries and sticking to them can help you foster a healthy relationship with staying informed. The best way to stick to your boundaries is by planning other activities to do throughout the day in order to take your attention away from the news. Try exercising, reading, spending time outside, or indulging in other hobbies to give yourself a break.
Balance Positive and Negative News
When reading or watching the news, it is important to actively seek out positive news as well! Look for a positive news roundup to add to your daily news consumption. Balancing negative, tragic world news with more uplifting and inspiring news stories can help you feel less hopeless and overwhelmed. While it is necessary to know what is going wrong in the world, so you can do your part to help, keeping up with positive news stories will provide you with the motivation to create and sustain change. Also, oftentimes negative news stories offer no solution to the problem they are discussing. This may leave you feeling, consciously or subconsciously, pressured to come up with a solution to every problem on your own. Obviously, that is bound to feel overwhelming. This leads us to our next tip: try to focus on what you actually can control and contribute to a cause.
Focus on What You Can Control
If you feel drawn to an issue in the news, take the time to research actionable items you can take to help. It is good to read and be informed about an issue before you jump in, but just reading and never taking action may leave you feeling powerless. If there is nothing for you to do directly, know that it is out of your control and try to shift your focus to other ways you can help. Perhaps there are issues in your local community that could use your expertise or time. You could even focus on truly bettering yourself! Focusing on things you can actually contribute to and make a difference in will help you feel empowered and hopeful for a greater future.
Take Care of Yourself / Prioritize Your Needs
Staying informed and your mental health means you know how to prioritize your needs. As we mentioned earlier, setting boundaries and time limits on your news consumption means you are listening to what you need! Other ways you can take care of yourself include making time for ample sleep, eating nourishing meals, exercise, and social time with family and friends. Self-care means doing things you enjoy and actively engaging in acts that promote your own physical, mental, and emotional health. Remember, self-care is not a luxury. It is a necessity.
Seek Help If You Need
If you are still struggling with staying informed while taking care of your mental health, do not be afraid to seek additional help. Improving your mental health and learning skills to maintain your mental health are some of the most worthwhile investments you can make. There is a healthy balance between staying informed and prioritizing your health and you are capable of creating this balance! Chriselda Santos, licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach, specializes in helping clients utilize their natural strengths and capabilities to adopt healthy behaviors. She feels passionate about providing you with the tools to better cope and feel hopeful for the future. For more information, or to book an appointment, visit Chriselda’s website.