Should we turn off the news for the sake of our mental health?

In today’s interconnected world, staying informed is more accessible than ever before. Whether it’s an official channel or via social media, the 24-hour media cycle amplifies exposure to news content, making it challenging to escape a bombardment of negative and frightening information.

So, should we turn off the news for the sake of our mental health?

Consuming news can help us stay informed about current events, enhance our understanding of the world and promote mental stimulation. Positive news stories can inspire hope, gratitude, empathy and foster a sense of community and optimism. Additionally, being knowledgeable about local and global issues can help us to engage in meaningful conversations, connect with others and participate in collective efforts towards positive change.

However a relentless stream of negative news can have an adverse effect on our wellbeing. Consuming depressing media stories can lead to feelings of anxiety, helplessness and even depression. Constant exposure to tragic events can overwhelm our senses and leave us feeling emotionally drained. Random knife attacks, domestic violence, the cost-of-living crisis, climate change and international conflict, are just a few examples of recent headlines that are cumulatively causing people distress.

Research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that exposure to negative news leads to increased anxiety, sadness, and general negative mood; and similarly, a study in the Journal of Media Psychology revealed that frequent consumption of negative news is associated with higher levels of stress and lower psychological well-being (Utz & Breuer, 2017; Davey et al., 2019).


To find a balance between staying informed and safeguarding our mental health, it’s essential to adopt mindful media consumption habits. Here are some strategies to support this balance:

  1. Limit exposure: Set boundaries on time spent consuming news each day. Make specific times to check the news rather than constantly refreshing feeds throughout the day. This could include adjusting notification settings on your device.
  2. Diversify your sources: Avoid relying solely on sensationalist or fear-inducing media outlets.
  3. Practice media literacy: Use your critical thinking skills - be sceptical of clickbait headlines and verify information from multiple sources. The lack of gatekeeping and fact-checking mechanisms on social media allows misinformation and falsehoods to flourish on an international scale.
  4. Manage your social media content: Social media algorithms target your newsfeed by analysing your past behaviour; including likes, comments, and shares, to tailor content that aligns with your interests, preferences and what you’re most likely to click on. If social media is bombarding your feed with distressing headlines, you can hit snooze on or unfollow those pages to give yourself a break and by doing so, reshape the type of content that shows up for you over time.
  5. Look for exceptions: Seek out stories that showcase positive developments in society. It’s important to acknowledge hope and optimism amongst adversity.
  6. Engage in self-care: Know your triggers and recognise your signs of burn out. Use self-care measures to get back on track – connecting with others, mindfulness, therapy, physical activity - you need to know what works for you and when to make time for self-care.

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