As human beings, we’re programmed for survival rather than happiness and our default tendency is therefore to be problem-focused. That’s why our attention is drawn to news that worries or angers us. These days technology gives us instant 24/7 access to ‘bad’ news, which is what most of the news cycle consists of. This can make us feel anxious and the more anxious we feel, the more anxiety-provoking stories we seek out.
It’s the vicious circle of today’s media which can become a source of distress for many. It can lead to obsessively scanning social media and websites for bad news, or ‘doomscrolling’ as it’s now known. People are left in a hyper-vigilant, worried, angry or switched-off state that adversely affects their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Some might also understandably try to ease their emotional state in the short-term using behaviours and substances that have longer-term adverse consequences.
It’s important we’re aware of our brain’s natural problem bias. Everything we take in through our eyes and ears affects our thoughts, feelings, body and behaviours. Of course, some people can comfortably consume news without it negatively affecting them but if you are experiencing some degree of bad news-related anxiety, it’s likely you’re going to need to reduce the amount of bad news you’re exposing yourself to. To this end:
If you’re feeling consistently overwhelmed and anxious, consider talking with a therapist who can help you reduce anxiety, build joy and work towards your goals in life.
You can also find UKCP’s webpage, outlining different ways to access therapy, from free to private sessions.
Watch John-Paul’s YouTube video where he shares some more of his thoughts on the mental health implications of bad news.