If recent times have taught us anything, life is unpredictable. From a global pandemic to invasions and declarations of war, it’s hard to catch your breath when consuming the news. Whilst we shouldn’t be sheltered from devastating headlines, we must know how to consume it constructively without being overwhelmed.
In 2019, the Digital News Report conducted by Reuters found that, across all age groups, 32% of respondents actively avoid the news, 58% of people associate it with adverse effects on their mental health, and less than half of those surveyed implicitly trust the information they use.
Below, you’ll find ways to optimise your news uptake and walk away before anxiety sets in.
Optimise your news uptake
Filter your search: Go direct to news sites you trust and use the search bar to filter in keywords, rather than get into a doom scroll trying to find the most pertinent topics.
These apps customise the industries you want to hear about and when. For example, get a summary of the five trending stories first thing on a morning (you can choose to open it at this time depending on what side of the bed you’ve got out of!), and switch off the ones that interrupt you while at work or spending time with family.
Keep it balanced: The Happy Newspaper, founded by Emily Coxhead, is the perfect antidote to pessimistic news! You can choose to buy the physical paper for a happy delivery once a month or consume the highlights via Instagram, mixed with motivational messages to put an extra pep in your step. Share it with friends and family of all ages – cool infographics accompany the stories so that every reader can share in the positivity.
Be picky about whose opinion you want to see: Often opinion writers are the culprits for irritably exaggerated headlines which are just clickbait; scroll past and breathe!
It is possible to consume relatively neutral information from sources that don’t add an extra layer of aggravation through their prejudice to their subjects.
Revise your social media connections: It’s no secret that being constantly connected to media channels via their social profiles is becoming the norm, especially for younger audiences.
However, this does mean that news features are becoming undifferentiated from your aunt’s wild walking snaps and your brother’s Couch to 5k win.
So, curating your social media feed is crucial to collating updates that are beneficial to a positive, goal-getting attitude.
Beware that it’s significantly more challenging for false news to be policed on social media channels like Facebook or Snapchat.
How to walk away and reset
Save articles for later: You’ll often see articles being shared on social media or directly from news sites that you think you ought to read, such as daily briefings from Number 10 or interest pieces that intrigue you, but you don’t have the headspace or time for it as you come across it.
Using ‘save’ on Instagram or the bookmark option on your browser are great ways to press pause.
Have you heard of Pocket? Not only can you group all your online reading lists (either on desktop or the mobile app), but you can download them and read them conveniently. You can even hit the ‘discover’ page to get ‘today’s essential reads’ in one place and turn all your reporting notifications off!
Grounding mindfulness: You can make the most straightforward activity a mindful moment. If stepping away from all the digital chatter to make a brew is your thing: perfect! Observe as many of the senses as you can whilst you make it: the sounds as the water comes to a boil, the heat of the steam, the smell of your tea.
You may prefer to listen to soothing ASMR or walk outdoors.
Catch up with friends: We so often get wrapped up in the news of huge, widespread events that we forget to check in with those around us. Bring news back to a one-to-one level; did your best friend finally pass their driving test? Go find out!
We’re living in the most interconnected times the world has ever seen, with access to live, global updates every day – amazing, right? It’s essential to strike the right balance between sobering and celebratory stories in the news we consume. So, remember to look after yourselves first and be a little selfish; the headlines will still be there for you to read later on, if you need to take a break.
Words by Sophie Crabtree for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @CrabSophie.