Dealing with Anxiety from Current Events
In today’s always-connected world, information is constantly at our fingertips. Watching the news, it almost seems like tragedy and terror have become the new norm, and it is only natural to feel uneasy when faced with near constant images of terrorism, ISIS, mass shootings, environmental disasters, and more. We Americans are lucky to live in a country where freedom of the press makes this information available, and being informed is essential to staying aware and safe. Nevertheless, there comes a point where healthy concern becomes unhealthy anxiety. With the seemingly constant barrage of “bad news,” media hype has become a great source of anxiety in peoples’ lives.
Although people watch the news with good intentions, too much of a good thing can have negative effects on mental health. A 2014 Harvard study found that people who experienced a great deal of stress in their lives listed the news as one of their biggest daily stressors. Another study from UC Irvine found that people who exposed themselves to six or more hours of media coverage which dealt with the Boston Marathon bombings actually reported more acute stress symptoms than the people who were there when the bombs went off. This study suggests that in some cases, watching a tragedy unfold on the news and being subjected to the repetitive traumatic images might actually be more traumatic than experiencing it firsthand.
Humans are hard-wired to pay attention to potential threats, so it is understandable that people are tempted to binge watch the news and try to absorb every detail of every tragedy. However, it is important to realize that knowing every gruesome detail does not help survival, it just leads to stress. To help avoid the stress of bad news overload, experts suggest tuning out as much as possible, especially in the wake of a major tragedy like September 11th or the attacks in Paris. Instead of focusing on the tragedy, focus on the positives in life, including family and friends.
If you or a loved one is struggling with stress or anxiety, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.
By: Evagelia Stavrakis