Have you ever spent hours browsing the news on social media or television? Have you ever experienced stress and anxiety from watching bad news over and over again? If the answer to these questions is yes, you have probably experienced the consequences of what is known as bad news syndrome. In this article, we answer the question of how drowning in bad news endangers our mental health and how we can deal with it.
What is Bad News Syndrome?
The media that we watch every day to follow the news or visit their pages in cyberspace is full of different news. This news often covers the daily events of the environment around us or around the world. Most of this news is bitter, because the accidental nature of such tragic events, along with the importance we place on human life and property, has led most news outlets to report negative news about human life or property. The news of the momentary spread of the corona virus, including the number of daily deaths by region, country and world, is one of these news items.
Although following the news to stay up to date with the latest developments in today’s world is inevitable, mental health experts believe that drowning in them can also have a negative impact on our mental health. Hence, some refer to these injuries as bad news syndrome.
This syndrome is caused by watching too much news and drowning in news streams, which increases our stress and anxiety and may even cause depressive symptoms. What can be done to avoid the negative effects of bad news syndrome? The best way is to find a way to balance bad news with mental health at the same time.
How Does Bad News Syndrome Harm Our Mental Health?
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the global outbreak of coronavirus has led to increased stress in most people, especially in the early stages of the epidemic. This increase in stress levels manifested itself in symptoms such as sleep disturbance and eating disorders. Fear, stress, and anxiety also reduced concentration and increased stress.
On the other hand, in our country, according to the statistics provided by the competent centers, during the coronation period and homelessness, cases such as domestic violence in the home, as well as stress and depression among the medical staff have increased. Although part of the increase is due to the Crohn’s disease epidemic, the stress and strain caused by the news of hundreds of deaths every day can be attributed to this.
Opinions of psychologists and researchers about this syndrome
Psychologist Behnam Logan Jones says about the negative impact of this news:
Unfortunately, most of the news we follow every day is not designed to cover events. Their goal is to make us addicted to news. As thrilling headlines get more attention, the media is constantly focusing on catastrophic news and rarely covering positive news. [او در ادامه میافزاید:] Excessive consumption of this news (whether intentional or unintentional) acts like a poison and endangers our mental health.
Another researcher, Annie Miller, says:
Constantly following the bad news can have a negative effect on our brain. Watching this news causes the nervous system to secrete stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones, in turn, affect the quality of our sleep and nutrition, causing stress, anxiety, and premature fatigue. also; Constantly following this news and trying to interpret and justify it may have a negative effect on our attitude and mix our thoughts with constant worry.
Strategies to deal with bad news syndrome
Obviously, we can not separate ourselves from the world around us and live in the bubble of ignorance. We must choose ways to balance our media regime and implement them to avoid the negative effects of bad news. Here are 10 solutions to choose from:
1. Set a time limit
Turning on the TV or constantly following the news on social media is not something that contributes to mental health. Instead of dwelling on the news all the time, choose and stick to a limited time to follow the daily news. How about 30 minutes a day?
2. Follow the news from reliable sources
One way to manage media consumption is to identify credible sources and follow them. Reliable sources that have experienced reporters, adhere to the principles of professional journalism (such as warning the audience about disturbing news before it is broadcast), and cover a variety of perspectives.
3. After watching the news, do a happy activity
For many of us, following the news is essential. To counteract the harmful effects of this bad news, experts suggest doing something uplifting immediately after watching the news. Activities such as walking or hanging out with a friend, meditation and yoga, and pet care are good options.
4. Subscribe to the newsletter or news podcast
Instead of following the news from different media, which bombards your mind with news, it is better to subscribe to one or more newsletters or news podcasts and follow the news through them. In this way, you also limit and manage the time to follow the news.
5. Consider the goals of the media
There is no doubt that bad news is not rare and we do not need to run away from hearing or knowing about it. However, we must pay attention to the fact that the media pursues goals in publishing various news items, including attracting more audiences. On this account, it is very likely that these media outlets, using various persuasion techniques and methods, try to present the bad news to us in an exciting cover to further provoke our emotions. Therefore, by knowing more media, we can use them more efficiently.
6. Take the concept of media representation seriously
Representation means showing reality in a special way. Each media outlet presents facts in a specific way depending on its purpose. Meanwhile, the competition to attract more audiences has led most news outlets to increase their news coverage so that they can attract more attention. We need to know that what we hear or see in the media is part of reality, not all of it. By understanding this, we will experience less negative emotions.
Note that representation is different from lying. Representation is neither good nor bad. The nature of the media is based on representation. All media, including news, cinema, theater and… represent the real world.
7. Disable news reminders on your mobile phone
Many cell phones as well as browsers these days automatically show us news based on our searches and visits. These reminders and headlines that suddenly appear on the page, in addition to being distracting, act like a hook and pull us into the news pages! To prevent this from happening, turn off news-related reminders.
8. If you have mental health related diseases, be extra careful
People with mental health disorders such as depression or chronic anxiety disorders or a history of traumatic mental illness should be extra careful when watching the news. Facing this news may make their symptoms worse. Even if you do not have a specific illness and do not just spend happy days, it is better to temporarily stay away from the world of news.
9. Get help from others
In these days and months when the corona epidemic has affected many in the world and in our country, it is natural for many to endure a lot of stress and anxiety. These days, interacting with friends and loved ones is essential to staying in the mood and coping with the corrupting conditions of the Corona.
These connections not only lift your spirits but also give you access to appropriate educational and news resources. Others may know how to manage their own stress and teach it to you. Of course, a certain method may work for someone, but it will not be very effective for you.
10. Talk to family and friends about the news
You do not have to digest all the bad news you hear alone. Discuss the news with family and friends. You can find out more by looking at their views and analyzing the news. How doubts and worries may be reduced. In addition, talking about feelings and what you have experienced after watching the news and empathizing with others is soothing.
Knowing or not knowing is the problem!
Complete ignorance of the outside world can be soothing, it can also lead to harm and even danger. On the other hand, drowning in the news and events of the world around us also endangers our peace and mental health and damages our quality of life.
The key to not getting caught up in any of these situations is to strike a balance between ignorance and knowing. Many people, instead of living in complete ignorance, prefer to know the bitter facts and bad news in moderation, so that if they can, they can do something to reduce the idioms.