Please keep in mind that this post has nothing to do with any particular story in the headlines. This is not about politics, or censorship or any other topic surrounding mainstream media. This post is purely about how negativity and negative news affects our levels of anxiety.
When it comes to recovery from anxiety disorders, we have to look at everything that affects our emotions. And take a proactive approach to manage the things that we are able to. Certainly, some things we cannot, but there are some that we can.
Over the years I have noticed my own anxiety fluctuates based on the news of the day. The media, in general, tend to be negative. This is done on purpose. When people are concerned or scared of something, they will obsess over it in an effort to control it. (sound familiar?)
It’s essentially the same principles people with anxiety disorders contend with on a daily basis! All human beings have anxiety as part of their natural genetic makeup. The media has learned to tap into this natural behavior to increase their ratings.
I’ve heard the argument that the media only reports what people want to see. And that is mostly a true statement. But how the news is reported and sensationalized is primarily done with rankings and viewership in mind.
Keep in mind that anxiety is our own personal “self-defense system”, and therefore it will become heightened at the thought of perceived danger. Hearing of any situation or newsworthy topic that triggers a warning for us, will increase our levels of anxiety.
Prior to starting my own recovery, the news was a big trigger for me. I would hear a story on the news and it would send my anxiety spiraling. The more negative it was, the more fearful I became. It was just a constant cycle that I found myself in.
What I learned to do is limit my exposure to negative news and the media in general. Certainly, I watch the news now, but in smaller doses. Most of the time as a story is developing, the media outlets will repeat what they know over and over again to fill in airtime as things develop. Once we hear the initial report, there is no reason to hear the same information over and over again. This fuels our obsessing and increases our anxiety.
If the story has already developed, I get the facts and then turn it away from the news. There is nothing good or positive that will come out of obsessing over a news report, especially if it involves negative media coverage.
What we can do to help protect ourselves from the negative media is to learn to limit our exposure. It is important for us to learn to regulate our exposure to negative information in general. We have to set limits for ourselves.
This approach to managing our exposure to negative media falls in line with “living intellectually”. This is looking at our behavior from a point of intellectual understanding, and not falling into the rut of “emotional drifting“.
The speed at which we recover is directly affected by how much effort we apply to create change in our behavior. There are many opportunities for us to practice throughout the day, to be aware of our conditioning and how we can engage in the process of “behavior modification”.
Never give up! Persistence!
Change is created by our thoughts, words and actions
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