Our news consumption (sometimes referred to as our ‘news diet’) is the amount of news we watch, read, or listen to. And just like our nutritional diet, consuming the right things in the right quantities is important for our health – especially when it comes to negative news.
When we read negative news, it triggers our fight or flight response because our subconscious perceives the negativity as a threat. This, in turn, causes our bodies to release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, resulting in elevated feelings of stress and anxiety.
To make things worse, in times of crisis, we’re naturally more drawn to the news. In her interview with Mind Body Green, Aditi Nerurkar, an integrative medicine physician at Harvard Medical School, explains that we feel compelled to read the news in turbulent times so we can gather information to protect ourselves.
However, this natural reaction can often lead people to over-indulge or even seek out more negative news – what’s come to be known as ‘doomscrolling’ or ‘doomsurfing’ – and it can be quite detrimental to our mental health.
But, as the majority of us will agree, the solution isn’t simply to avoid negative news altogether. As citizens of the world and members of a democracy, it’s important that we stay well-informed when it comes to current events, even if they’re distressing.
The trick is to be mindful of our consumption, so we can take steps to manage our media diet in such a way that helps us to stay well-informed while minimising excessive feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.