Limiting Your Exposure to the News

We all want to stay informed, but is there a point at which compulsively checking for new headlines and inundating ourselves with the latest stats and on confirmed cases and deaths, details on the origins of the virus, what world leader is saying and doing what right now? According to psychiatrist and habit change specialist Dr. Jud Brewer, there is. And that tipping point might be right now.

In his article “Breaking Your Addiction to Breaking News,” Dr. Brewer explains some of the neuroscience behind why we love breaking news so much. But he also cautions that reading bad news can make you anxious, something you probably don’t need or want right now. Luckily, he offers a few tips on how to stop the the ancient part of your brain from seeking out headline after headline for that next dopamine hit, like:

  1. Set yourself a frequency limit for checking the news. “I will only check the news twice a day.” And stick to it!
  2. Set yourself a time limit for checking the news during those occasions you’ve allotted yourself. “I will only look at the news for 10 minutes.”
  3. Practice mindfulness. I thought this one was very interesting! After you’ve read a piece of news, stop and check in with yourself. Ask yourself “what did I get from reading that? How do I feel now after reading that?” Dr. Brewer goes into more detail about how this trick works. Brains are so cool.

So, if you’re still struggling with the emotions that news brings you, but you can’t seem to stop, maybe what’s best right now is to acknowledge those emotions and step back from it. Give Dr. Brewer a read (and he links to some other great info as well) and break the habit.

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