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Benefits & Advice on Consuming News Media

It is easy to notice that many people are struggling or just avoiding consuming the news media for a variety of reasons. 


BBC News listed some of these factors as growing mistrust, repetitive topics, a cause of arguments, making one feel powerless, and dealing with constant negativity. 


This is further evidenced by research conducted by PLOS One sharing that news has become more negative in the past two decades.



The chronological analysis of headlines emotionality shows a growing proportion of headlines denoting anger, fear, disgust and sadness and a decrease in the prevalence of emotionally neutral headlines across the studied outlets over the 2000–2019 interval.


The reason for this as Big Think explained is that negative headlines get more attention and views from the general public. 


User-tracking technology and metrics to measure content reach grew in sophistication and prevalence throughout the 2010s, and these tools revealed that negative, emotionally-arousing headlines attract more clicks and attention than positive or neutral headlines.


Since the media intends to continue showing negative media, people handling this while still keeping updated on what is going on in their local communities, nation, and the rest of the world by taking breaks from it.


This action of limiting the number of times one watches or reads the news has been advised by health experts as a very wise and healthy action for one’s mental health. 


Two health experts spoke to NBC News that consuming constant negative news can and has led to increased depression, stress, and anxiety cases while taking breaks has helped reduce all those symptoms.


One of those two experts, Dr. Joaquim Radua, a psychiatrist from Barcelona, Spain, said specifically, “The best predictor for having lower anxiety and depressive symptoms is to avoid watching too much news.


The other expert, Associate Professor Lindsey McKernan of Vanderbilt University Medical Center added, “There's an endless availability of information. Without putting the brakes on it yourself, you can just keep going and keep reading and become more stressed.


Taking breaks or limiting how much news one reads based on their preference can have an immediate effect on one’s outlook on life and mood. 


Not only that but other health experts such as Everyday Health published that watching news of traumatic events can cause secondary traumatic stress. This is when someone experiences emotional distress after hearing of someone else’s traumatic experience.


A secondary trauma response can be worse if you identify with the victim, adds Dr. Peifer. ‘The coverage of George Floyd's killing was particularly traumatizing for Black men and Black people in general,’ Peifer notes as an example.


To help manage this, the article points out that one should first identify symptoms like being emotionally exhausted, growing anxiety or depression, and having trouble eating or sleeping. After that, limiting social media use, taking breaks away from the news media, and seeing how your body and mind react while watching the news can help you feel more positive or not feel so heavily burdened. 


This also rings true by reading more positive news headlines and stories as some groups point out.


World Wide Group, a provider of Amway Training and Education, wrote, “The best part is that the more you focus on the positives in life, the more your brain is wired to look for more positives in the future. Studies show that the good feelings you get from happy news cause you to naturally seek it out more often.


Inspire More, a news website solely designed to provide a place of positive news and space away from negative news gave six reasons why positive news is good for people to read. 


The first reason is that positive news deals with the toll negative news give. This is explained through research conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton who studied around 2,000 respondents. They found that those who watched uplifting news were more motivated to make a positive impact rather than those who watched negative news and wanted to lament the current problems of society.


The second reason, encouraging readers to stay informed. A study conducted by Engaging News Project saw that those who read an article that talked about solutions to poverty stayed on the page for a longer period. Another study by The University of Texas at Austin found that solution-based articles made readers more interested in the article and felt hopeful about making a difference.


The third reason is positive news helps boosts one’s mood. Nathaniel Lambert, a researcher of Brigham Young University Negativity conducted a study over four weeks in which participants wrote down experiences that made them feel grateful. They would share those experiences with a partner twice a week and it showed that they felt more content and satisfied with their lives.


The fourth reason is positive news can help improve relationships. The same study from earlier also found that the participants and their partners had uplifted moods after sharing their experiences. This caused them to communicate more and build trust with each other.


The fifth reason is positivity helps people adapt after facing difficult situations. Social psychologist Sarah Arpin of Gonzaga University found that service members returning from deployments had an easier time adapting back to civilian life after watching positive news. 


The last reason is that positivity helps the heart. Laura Kubzansky of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found through a study that those who are optimistic tended to have healthier lifestyles and coped with stress better. These people had less likelihood of having a stroke or dying from heart disease. 


These reasons provide an in-depth look into how positive news can be very beneficial in one’s life. It also can be an advisory for news networks to include more.


NBC News always ends on a positive note with their nightly news program with the last part called “Inspiring America.” The description states, “Celebrating remarkable individuals who remind us of the healing power of community and connection after a battle-tested year.


Other news sites focus specifically on providing good news. These include Good News Network and Positive News.


Some social media accounts provide uplifting stories of people helping others or saving lives. One example is an Instagram account called Good News Movement that posts stories of heroes, people being kind to each other, and inspiring people that hit the heart.


Overall, these benefits and advice on consuming news media can help lead to improvements in one’s lifestyle, give a clearer outlook on life, and make one feel better about themselves and those around one.

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