The News Is Making You Stressed. It’s Time to Take a Step Back.
Like so many others, it seems, I can’t stand the news now. After working as a reporter for eight-odd years, it’s become unbearable to even look at headlines—let alone read the articles.
On both sides of the political aisle, opinions are mixed in with the facts—and venom seems to drip from each keystroke. And it’s not even about the politics, or who to support or despise. As a reporter, I find difficult every night extricating myself from the harsh realities of the new American media hellscape, 2017.
I had a dream recently. In it, I was working and watching a stream of a CNN (or was it Fox News?) broadcast. Then, a queasiness overcame me, I had the urge to vomit, and then I rushed to the nearest toilet before it happened, and I won’t describe in detail what happened next. Maybe this was a manifestation of Freud’s theories on the meanings of dreams, or “wish fulfillment,” attempts from my subconscious to tell me that “I need a way out of news,” or simply, “I need a detox.”
It’s that stressful.
Combined with an incessant desire to check and refresh my news and social media feeds (also for news updates), a number of questions have arisen in my mind: Is this the start of a new Civil War? A coup? Will there be a crackdown on press freedom? If I hold an opinion deemed outside the Overton window, will I become a target? Do I have to talk about politics the next time I speak with my family members? Ugh.
I am not alone.
A few new studies have discovered that—surprise!—the reportage around political events in the United States is making Americans more stressed than ever before.
The American Psychological Association (APA), in a study published in mid-February, found that 57 percent of Americans say the current political climate has become “a very or somewhat significant source of stress,” while about 49 percent have said they feel the same about the election’s outcome.
“The stress we’re seeing around political issues is deeply concerning, because it’s hard for Americans to get away from it,” said Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, APA’s executive director for professional practice in a statement. The second part of her phrase—”hard for Americans to get away from it”—is particularly relevant, as the stress is inflamed and warped in various social media echo chambers.
The APA, in a study posted a week later, suggested that the unholy mix of deeply divided partisan politics and individuals constantly checking social media is only making things worse. Here’s what it found:
“This excessive technology and social media use has paved the way for the ‘constant checker’—those who check their email, texts and social media accounts on a constant basis. The survey found that stress runs higher, on average, for constant checkers than for those who do not engage with technology as frequently.
“On a 10-point scale, where one is ‘little or no stress’ and 10 is ‘a great deal of stress,’ the average reported overall stress level for constant checkers is 5.3, compared with 4.4 for those who don’t check as frequently. Among employed Americans who check their work email constantly on their days off, their reported overall stress level is even higher, at 6.0.”
But last week, my job responsibilities switched, and I no longer manage social media accounts or do news reporting—and it’s been blissful.
Checking my social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit have become secondary. And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been able to sleep better and breathe easier.
If it worked for me—a longtime news junkie—it just might work for you.
"Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times."