I’ve spent the last few days debating whether to write this post or not.
The news coming out of Ukraine this week has been beyond heartbreaking. It’s been impossible to ignore.
Yet, here I am, about to tell you why I’ve stopped watching the news.
The devastating events unravelling in Eastern Europe have re-emphasised the importance of boundary setting. Setting boundaries and monitoring how much news we consume is crucial during unsettling times.
As we discovered during the early days of lockdown, it’s far too easy to lose ourselves in an endless stream of news.
Whilst I can’t sit here and tell you how much news you should consume, I can sit here and tell you why I’ve decided to stop watching it:
1) It started to give me nightmares
A few weeks ago, I had a nightmare. I don’t often remember my dreams. However, I couldn’t shift this one from my thoughts.
The night before, I had climbed into bed, read a chapter of my book, and then found myself scrolling through Instagram before I eventually drifted off to sleep. I then woke up in the night with my heart racing after having a nightmare about the last thing I had seen on Instagram.
The very next day, I decided enough was enough. It was time to make some changes.
2) It wasn’t helping my anxiety
Whilst I can’t blame the news for causing my anxiety, I am aware that it probably hasn’t helped.
I find myself easily transfixed by the news, which only gets more intense when something extreme is unfolding.
It’s not just watching the news that’s a problem. It’s letting it consume me that’s the real problem. Watching extraordinary events wakes up something inside me, and I find it hard to stop watching.
It’s sometimes like watching a scary movie and then realising it’s real (I talk about how real it actually is below!).
Some people may say that switching off from the news is ignorant. To a degree, I can’t disagree with you. Keeping abreast of what’s going on in the world is a great way to learn and educate ourselves.
Of course, I’m still aware of what’s going on in the world. It wouldn’t be fair to ask people not to talk about the news. It’s also hard to ignore what’s happening when social media plays an essential role in my work life. But by limiting how much I consume, I can set clear boundaries and take in as little or as much as I feel necessary on any given day.
3) It gives us an unbalanced view of the world
When was the last time you switched on the news and saw something worth celebrating?
Particularly over the last few years, we’ve had a lot of information to take in. We’ve had a global pandemic; we’ve had concerns over the environment and the impact humans are having on the world; we’ve had the Taliban taking back over in Afghanistan; we’ve also had Donald Trump. And now we have Ukraine and Russia.
The main focus of the news always seems to be centred around the terrible things happening around the world.
I’m not saying it’s unnecessary to know about the bad stuff. That would be unrealistic. But what if, what if we had a more accurate representation of what was happening around the world? What if we got to see some of the good stories as well?
4) We never know what’s real and what isn’t
Did you know that most news stories are fuelled by propaganda? What we see and hear is often only one side of the story. Most media is put out there for someone or something to gain an advantage. More often than not, it’s for political gain.
It’s ok to watch the news, but keep in mind that there is always a hidden agenda.
5) It takes up too much of my brainpower
Earlier this year, I found myself in a routine of checking my news app as soon as I woke up and last thing at night before I slept, as well as watching the evening news and, some days, listening to the hourly updates on the radio too. Quite frankly, that’s too much news for any brain to consume.
Consuming too much news can be exhausting and distracting. It can take up too much of our thinking time, making us focus on the things we can’t control rather than the things we can.
What does all of this mean?
After my nightmare, I realised that something had to change. At the point where something starts to impact your sleep, your mental health, or your day to day life, you know it’s time for a change.
I moved my news app from the main screen of my phone, and I stopped watching the news on the TV. If I have the radio on while I’m working, I limit how many hourly updates I listen to, sometimes switching the radio off entirely when the news comes on.
As a result of this, I am less anxious about what is going on in the world. I am not ignoring that there is some seriously messed up shit going on right now, but I am choosing not to let it consume me.
My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine, but I don’t need to watch the news to know they are suffering right now. Watching the evening news will not help Ukraine get through this. But I can keep them in my thoughts and send them hope.
How do you manage how much news you consume?