You are checking your phone, browsing news websites, flicking on the TV or Radio, glancing at news-stands compulsively, wary of what bad news is coming next. After all, every time you check in, there seem to be yet more stabbings, shootings, random attacks, bad political decisions, economic downturns, outbreaks of this, that or the other.
Bad news seems to be everywhere, and right now we are immersed up to our eyeballs and beyond in it. What’s more we saturate ourselves by being hyperconnected 24/7.
It’s all very well being ‘informed’ and ‘up-to-date’ about the state of the world, but the problem is ‘bad news-itis’ can be very bad for your health.
How? It may mean you can’t ever relax or turn off; it may heighten your feeling of danger or jeopardy and raise your blood-pressure and anxiety levels sky-high. The problem with being wired-up about bad news all the time is that you can end up being over-adrenalised, over-tense and hyper. This can seriously damage your health.
Your cortisol levels get raised, which can lead to feelings of panic, overload and dread. The feeling that everything is going wrong, that you are under threat and news is only ever bad can increase feelings of powerlessness and depression.
So, we all have to face the fact that information overload is bad for us. We have to take control of our impulse to be permanently plugged in, to regain and retain some semblance of sanity.
So what can you do?
* make a decision to limit checking the news frequently – only inform yourself a couple of times a day;
* notice the good things that are happening in the world, too. There are good events, kind actions, thoughtful people, even heroes – they just don’t get so much air space;
* when you feel yourself getting panicked or overloaded, switch off and do something mindfully;
* notice nature, walk the dog, go in the garden, walk, listen to music, stroke a cat, watch a child at play – do anything that reminds you that things are basically ‘fine’.
Anxiety is on the increase as we are tired, suffering from insomnia as well as being over-stimulated by bad news. So help yourself reduce your own anxiety, and those around you, by making some calm, benign ‘me time’ away from the madding crowd.
This week (8.5.18) my book, The Anxiety Journal (Pan MacMillan) has come out in America (Harmony Books, an imprint of Penguin).
I hope to calm a few frazzled nerves there – perhaps including in the White House.