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Does TV News Have Psychological Effects?

by Stephanie Murguia 4 years ago in pop culture
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How much is your mental health affected?

We live in a world where news is constant and you don’t need to be in front of a screen to stay informed on world events. While this is a great way of keeping everyone informed, you may find yourself feeling down in the dumps when all you hear are bad news. The past few years have hard-hitting with countless mass shootings, natural disasters, domestic terrorism, outdated changes to women’s health and much more. I think the reason why these news stories are affecting people’s well-being, is that they hit close to home more than ever.

News that Hit Close to Home

In addition to policy changes and senseless shootings across the country, movements like #MeToo have discovered decades of sexual harassment and sexual assault across the Entertainment business. I personally was not shocked by the amount of survivors of sexual harassment within one industry. What is most disturbing was the silence of all of those refused to speak out. Sexual harassment is nothing new and most of us have witnessed it and lived it. Watching people come forward and accusing those with power and money, gave me a sense of justice, but at the same time I felt ashamed that it had taken this long to come to the surface.

According to a report by NPR, 81% of women & 43% of men have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime. 43% of those women reported the harassment at work. Taking in those numbers and thinking about what is happening with the #MeToo movement, the news surrounding it really hits home for a lot of women and men. Reading about this issue every day in the news could bring back bad memories, or bring those feelings to the surface when you watch survivors tell their story and demand justice in front of the world. Of those who reported past harassment or assault, 31% of women and 20% of men felt anxious or depressed. You could assume that any mention of news stories about sexual harassment and abuse could trigger feelings of depression and/or anxiety.

In the United States, there have been 310 mass shooting deaths just this year. Parkland and the most recent, Thousand Oaks shootings left a total of 30 people dead, most of them young. Even if you are not directly affected by these shootings, you are still shaken to your core by the thought of witnessing or living such a traumatic event, at any given time. Most of these events were at random, leaving people with more questions than answers. This uncertainty could raise your levels of anxiety and stress. If you are a parent the stress increases since the deadliest shootings have happened at high schools or elementary schools.

Mood Effects of Negative News

A survey done by the American Psychological Association found that for many people, the news can have a negative impact on their lives. The way we consume information has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, which could be the reason why. We are constantly receiving information, making it impossible to avoid bad news. The saying “brb” or “be right back” doesn’t apply anymore because we basically live on the internet, and never actually leave. Experts say because TV news has become “increasingly visual and shocking”, it can cause symptoms of stress, which includes, problems sleeping, mood swings, aggressive behavior or sometimes even PTSD. They also say, due to the personal connection of news stories, they could have a serious influence on your well being and moods. The news is also not impartial anymore, there is a left and a right side and they both bring their own opinions to the table, making the news more personal and decisive than ever. You end up taking issues that are polarizing on the news to your home, thus increasing stress levels and anxiety.

What can you do?

The answer is not to deprive yourself from watching the news or staying informed. If you are like me, you enjoy staying informed and you see it as a duty. But it’s important to stay sane and finding a way to cope with some heartbreaking headlines. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests these home remedies, when dealing with stress and anxiety:

  1. Keeping a positive attitude.
  2. Manage and identify stressors.
  3. Limit alcohol intake and caffeine.
  4. Exercise every day.
  5. Sleep 8 hours a night.
  6. Meditation, yoga or deep breathing.
  7. Keep a healthy diet.
  8. Build a support system.

Some of these remedies are not attainable for everyone, but if you can tackle a few of them, it could make a big difference. I think the most important one is building a support system. The first step is to talk to someone and ask for help. Even if you’re not sure what is causing your stress or anxiety, once you start talking about it you may figure it out. Many companies also offer free counselor programs that are available to you at any time. It’s called an Employee Assistance Program, it offers confidential counseling and referrals to employees who are having issues at work or home. This can include, substance abuse, stress, anxiety, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders.

Create a Balance

It’s also important to keep a balance. Don’t indulge in hard hitting news only, remember that you’re only going to hear mostly negative stories. Indulge in content that you also enjoy, and that will bring your mood back up. A healthy communication about these issues can also help with your mood, I found that having an intelligent conversation on the matter, makes me feel like I come to peace with certain issues. I also found that getting involved helps, that can include a small donation to a cause, or even blogging about my stance on certain issues. This can make you feel empowered and less fired up.

pop culture

About the author

Stephanie Murguia

In life, it doesn't always matter what the crowd thinks, as long as you're groovin' to your own tune.

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