Finding the Balance
by Brooke Wolfenbarger | published Mar. 18th, 2021
We find ourselves surrounded by news 24/7. This can be overwhelming at times, especially when it seems so negative all of the time.
Staying aware is important, but knowing when you should take a step back can be really helpful. News in and of itself isn't bad, but you need to know when your body has had enough, and you need to know how to get news from the right places.
News Is Stressful
You shouldn’t be losing sleep because of the news, because that can affect your physical and mental well being.
Watching too much news, especially when it’s negative can impact someone in different ways. You might start worrying more, it can cause you more stress and frustration, repeated stories could make someone feel unsafe, it can destroy productivity with other things going on in your life. Fake news —news that purposefully misinterprets — can make us feel deceived.
Tracy Shuhmacher, a food and drink reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle, understands how news can negatively affect someone.
“It’s important to be aware of how emotions feel in your body," Shuhmacher said. "Physical sensations I have in my body are what tip me off that I’m feeling a certain way such as anxiety.”
When your eyes are glued to the television screen because of chaos, it can be hard to turn away. Seeing friends so invested in the news that they start losing sleep and aren't able to focus on anything else can be scary.
It’s important to know when to take a step back and set some boundaries if the news is causing too much anxiety or stress.
One reason people can get overwhelmed by news is how easily accessible it is, all the time.
“I can look back at even 9/11 or Princess Diana dying or other news events where you are just consumed by things," Shuhmacher said. "I think it’s even harder to separate when everything is on your phone.”
"It’s even harder to separate when everything is on your phone.”
With technology being so available, it can be a blessing and a curse. Shuhmacher gave some advice on how people can combat this feeling.
“It’s a good idea to set some limits on your phone and when those notices come up that you’re at the time you’ve allocated to really ask yourself why you want to be spending that much time on your phone."
Some other ways you can set limits are removing your phone from your nightstand, so it allows some peace of mind and the temptation isn't as close. Also, read the news in the morning and not before you go to bed. Not stressing out the mind and getting a good night's sleep is important.
There are people who enjoy the news, but even more importantly there are people out there that depend on the news. Being up to date with the news and legislation that is being passed affects some people's day-to-day lives. The key is still to compartmentalize the emotions that are associated with news in a healthy way.
People get so invested, but at the end of the day sometimes there’s only so much that you can do.
"In the case of the presidential election and whether or not the votes were going to be counted I couldn’t do a darn thing about it, so what was the point of me getting all caught up in that?” Shuhmacher explained.
Understanding your purpose and why you’re consuming the news is important, and can help you mentally.
Balancing It Out
Having a balance in the news that is being consumed can be positive and educational, so digging deeper to find those uplifting stories can be really important.
Shuhmacher saw this first hand in her own reporting experiences.
“When Covid was happening, I recognized very quickly that people were going to need positive stories to maintain a balance."
What came out of this was an uptick in more positive stories being broadcasted to give people hope.
"It kind of has become a big part of what I do is looking for those positive stories and the lighter stories and the stories that can provide that balance,” Shuhmacher stated.
One of the reasons why it can be hard to balance out the news that people are consuming is because of the platforms that are used to gather information.
Social media is a big outlet for news for people and this can lead to negativity and misinformation. Using social media for gathering news can again put people at risk for more anxiety or being in a worse mood. Being aware of where and how much news is just as important as balance.
“It seems like the most shrill voices are the ones that are amplified on social media, when I say shrill I mean shrill on all sides, the freaking-out-in-all-ways are what you tend to see,” Shuhmacher said.
Luckily, Shuhmacher explains there are other places other than social media that she uses that people can access news that can have multiple benefits.
“If you look at that publication [The New York Times], you’ll see that there’s such a wide range of content and definitely in a medium that started as newspapers you’ll find that the writing is much more in depth and much more contextual and you get the why and the how,” Shuhmacher states.
She continued by saying that, “I would really urge [young] people to pick some newspapers to dive into and if it costs you a few bucks a month you’re probably spending that on Netflix or something like that anyway and maybe it’s just a good investment.”
Establishing good habits when it comes to getting your news and being more aware can take less strain off and people could be more well informed.
News doesn’t have to be a stressful and anxiety-inducing thing. The news has so many positive benefits.
“The blessing of the last four years is its lead to a very engaged citizenship. You know people are paying a lot of attention to things that they probably weren’t paying attention to before,” Shuhmacher said.
"The blessing of the last four years is its lead to a very engaged citizenship."