We live in a world of 24 hour news, and when events like those we have witnessed these past few weeks occur, we can understandably become fixated. We know it is not good for us but switching off is of course easier said than done. We will look at a few tips for taking a break from the news...
Of course, it is not realistic to expect ourselves to ignore the news, especially when significant global events occur. Furthermore, in a world where news is 24/7 and is no longer a subject we actively search for but is fed to us through news feeds and social media, news is no longer something we seek out; it seeks us out. It pushes news to us, demands our attention, and vies for our valuable clicks.
We must always keep in mind that news is a business, a global mega-industry worth £ billions, but generally free to us. As we all know, if the content is free, then "we are the product." News outlets demand our attention because to survive, it must have our attention. Viewer numbers and click rates drive advertising revenue or funding for national broadcasters.
So, how can we maintain a healthy relationship with the news in this age of information overload?
Here are a few tips for taking a much-needed break from the constant news stream:
Designate News-Free Zones: Set specific areas or times in your day where news is off-limits. For example, consider making your bedroom a news-free zone, so you can unwind without the distraction of headlines and updates.
Limit Your Screen Time: We know that excessive screen time can be detrimental to your mental health. Set daily or weekly limits on how much time you spend consuming news online, and try to stick to them. Use screen time tracking or time limiting apps.
Curate Your News Sources: Be selective about where you get your news. Choose reliable and balanced sources that focus on facts rather than sensationalism. Avoid the never-ending cycle of opinion-based content.
Schedule Breaks: Plan regular breaks throughout your day to step away from news updates. Use these moments to practice mindfulness, go for a walk, or engage in a hobby that brings you joy.
Unplug During "News Blackout" Hours: Designate specific hours each day when you disconnect from all news sources. Use this time to focus on other aspects of your life, such as spending quality time with loved ones or pursuing personal interests.
Stay Informed, Not Obsessed: Remember that staying informed doesn't mean being obsessed with the news. Set clear boundaries, and prioritise your well-being. You can catch up on important events without drowning in the constant barrage of information.
Practice Media Literacy: Develop the skills to critically evaluate the news you consume. Be aware of bias, cross check information, and strive to form a well-rounded view of the world. Beware of the trend for 'fact check' or 'verified' claims, ask who 'checks the fact-checkers?' or 'verified by who?'.
Engage in Offline Activities: Rediscover offline activities and hobbies that provide fulfillment and relaxation. Reading a book, exercising, or enjoying nature can be excellent alternatives to scrolling through news feeds.
Switch off 'push' notifications: Go through the settings of your news apps and disable push notifications. Or, look for options that allow you to customise the type and frequency of notifications you receive.
In a world where the news is always at our fingertips, finding balance and taking breaks from the constant stream of information is essential for our mental and emotional well-being. While we cannot completely disconnect from the news, we can control how and when we engage with it. By doing so, we empower ourselves to be informed, responsible consumers of information without sacrificing our peace of mind.