It’s almost impossible to avoid scrolling through social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) are used to connect, to learn, and even keep up with your children’s schools. But that doesn’t mean you have to read every news article shared by every one of your connections. Reading news through social media is a known culprit for causing stress in our lives. Stress can cause all sorts of illnesses, and to reduce stress in your life, it might make more sense to scroll rather than click.
Excessive news does not reduce stress
In recent years, the amount of news available on social media has skyrocketed. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the constant stream of information, opinions and updates. This influx of news can lead to what experts call "information overload." Too much information, written in ways designed to alter your opinion, can be mentally exhausting and contribute to heightened levels of stress. It sure doesn’t reduce stress.
This has long been the standard of most major news organizations. Ever heard the phrase: “If it bleeds it leads”? That is the mantra of most newsrooms, meaning the most gruesome news – the things that anger you – will be the first things you see.
The news focuses on negative events, conflicts and sensational stories. Constant exposure to such content evokes feelings of anxiety and fear. We’re constantly fed the latest crisis, no matter which medium we use to get our news.
Our brains are wired to pay more attention to negative news due to a phenomenon called the “negativity bias.” Consuming excessive news on social media is one of the worst ways to reduce stress, but many people resort to their smartphones when they want to wind down. In reality, this can heighten our stress levels and negatively impact our overall well-being.
Cut back on consumption
Reducing the time we spend reading the news on social media can have a profound positive impact on our stress levels, and there are plenty of studies that confirm that. By consciously limiting our exposure to news updates, we can create space for relaxation, self-care, and ultimately reduce stress. Here are some useful strategies to help you reduce stress by cutting back on social media news consumption:
1. Time Management
Create a schedule for when you will allow yourself to consume news on social media. Set clear boundaries and allocate a specific amount of time each day for catching up on the news. Stick to this schedule and avoid mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeeds outside of these designated periods. This will help you regain control over your time and reduce stress associated with limitless news consumption.
2. Reliable Sources
Be selective about the sources you follow on social media. Focus on reputable news organizations and reliable journalists who prioritize accuracy and unbiased reporting. By curating your news sources, you can minimize exposure to sensationalism and unreliable information, which often contribute to stress.
3. Mindful Consumption
When you do engage with news on social media, approach it mindfully. Be aware of your emotional responses and take breaks if you start feeling overwhelmed. Remember, it’s OK to take a step back and prioritize your mental well-being over being constantly up-to-date with every news story.
4. Diversify Your Content
Instead of solely relying on social media for news updates, try diversifying your sources. Explore reliable news websites, subscribe to email newsletters, or even consider reading physical newspapers or magazines. By expanding your news consumption beyond social media, you can gain a broader perspective and reduce the stress associated with information overload.