Addicted to Bad News
It has become a part of my daily routine. I turn on my little Bluetooth speaker and listen to one of the major news channels while I tidy the kitchen after dinner. As I scrub a grease-covered pan, something along the lines of "another mass shooting" plays over the speaker. Or something about how there have been more lives lost to some natural disaster somewhere. Or whatever else - there doesn't seem to be a shortage of bad news lately.
It's not just in the kitchen after dinner. It's in the morning, when I turn on the radio while getting ready for the day in the bedroom. Or during my lunch break at my desk. Or whenever I am driving to the store.
Recently, I found myself actively listening to the news more than four times in one day on a regular basis. That's a lot of time, considering how short a day is. And how nasty that can be to my outlook (especially first thing in the morning). I feel like my addicted to bad news has somehow taken over my life without me realizing it. Just like any addiction, I guess...
Why have I become so obsessed with everything that's going wrong in the world?
Part of me wonders if it's because this past half decade has felt like a whirlwind of bad news and strange happenings. More particularly the past two years). Everyday has felt like we are waiting for the next bad thing to happen. And after most of us not being prepared for what we've experienced, I find myself mentally preparing for the worst to come.... by watching the daily broadcasts.
I think my reasoning for turning on the news so early in the morning is that I need to hear what happened since last night so I can be better prepared for the day. That I'd rather hear the horrors of the world from the safety of my home. So that maybe I can know of any immediate dangers I should avoid going to the store. But, that can't be healthy for my mental wellbeing is it?
Being on constant high-alert for the next terrible thing to happen is starting to wearing me down...
My outlook on the world and the other people that inhabit it has become very negative recently. Oftentimes, I find myself muttering things like "I HATE people," or dreaming of living on a deserted island somewhere. Which is VERY contradictory to who I actually am! I am a very social person when I feel safe enough to open up to people.
I think I have just been so overwhelmed by everything bad about the world, instead of seeing the large amount of good there still is.
After realizing this, I'm making a conscious decision to limit my amount of information I absorb in a day. I won't be able to completely give up checking the news - that would go against who I am and what I believe as someone who wants to actively participate in the community/world around me. I need to be aware of the info stream so I can be involved in changing things that need to be changed for the better. But I've come to realize that if I want to be happier, I need to have more moderation on how much of that information I absorb in one day. Just like anything else in life, I need to monitor how much I take in so that I don't drown in the side effects of it.
What have I been doing to change this addiction to bad news?
To start, I am replacing the bad habit with something new. Instead of turning on the news when I do the dishes, I have been listening to things about what interested me as a child. Shows about the natural benefits to different plants. Or the habits and lives of animals. Possibly the lives of famous and not-so-known artists. Whatever is new and exciting and interesting! And it's been fun delving into who Little Lacey was once super interested in! Instead of scaring what's left of my inner-child, I am fostering it.
And whenever I do listen to the news, I'm trying to limit it to once a day. And I try to be very conscious of WHEN I listen to it. Not before bed so I don't have dreams of terrible things. And not first thing in the morning, so I don't start the day feeling only fear.
I also try to take a moment to pause, reflect, and be mindful after I am done listening so that I can still be who I need to be for myself, my family, and the community I work with everyday. Maybe I'll journal on how it affected me, or maybe I will meditate to try to make peace with the swelling of emotions in my heart. Taking the time to grieve for those lost to devastating events is also something I might do, because grief is normal and healthy, and honoring those we have lost is important as well.
I know I am not alone in this addiction to bad news.
Many people that I know also struggle with this - my parents, my friends, a few strangers I've had the rare chance of discussing this with. So I figure you might feel this too, since you've found this blog. How are you affected when bad news breaks? Are you taking steps to take care of your mental wellbeing and the wellbeing of your family when this happens? I would love to hear from you all, so please comment on this blog.