Stress Less With A Media Detox 

image of a smart tablet and newspaper

Media Detox and You!

Most people recognize the media’s trend towards “bad” news airing, however, many likely overlook the effects that constant negative media intake has on mental and physical health. Unfortunately, the tactics of news is not only to bring you the latest story, but is incentivized by capitalistic motives that drive irresistible, sensational, and controversial broadcasting to achieve high viewers and ratings. This leads to higher advertisement deals and ultimately more profit, which is highlighted wonderfully in Psychology Today’s article: If it bleeds, it Leads: Understanding Fear based Media.   

What a Media Detox Can Do?

 Research of media coverage on previous epidemics/pandemics (H1n1, SARs, MERs) and other tragedies (9/11, Boston marathon bombing) have found many disconcerting observations: 

  • 15 minute exposure to varying television news broadcasting elicit: heightened state of anxiety, total mood disturbance, and decreased positive affect, or optimism (1). 
  • In an analysis of the Boston Marathon bombing, participants who viewed negatively toned media airings demonstrated increased distress – by evidence of blood markers and survey reporting, increased startle-reactivity, and a decreased ability to correctly distinguish threat vs non-threat images, meaning that non-harmful images can elicit distress equally to true harm (2). 
  • Exposure to television coverage increased new onset PTSD one-year following 9/11. The more hours exposed to television coverage, the greater risk. Those who consumed 12 hours or more (approximately 1.7 hours per day) were 3.4 times higher risk to experience PTSD symptoms, than those who consumed less than 12 hours (3). 
  • The Journal of Public Health concludes misrepresentation of health risk by mass media, identifying that the reports on novel health hazards are disproportionately emphasized compared to known/existing health risk, such as well- known lifestyle related chronic diseases (4). This is concerning to public health, as it causes a suboptimal prioritization of public health resources addressing chronic disease that currently is responsible for 7/10 deaths in the US, killing 1.7 million Americans annually  (5). 
  • Biased reporting emphasis – 85.7% of new coverage highlighted suffering, death and disease control, compared to 2% of scientific coverage, 2% economic impact, 4% research and development, 5% personalized/human interest, found from a scientific analysis of news coverage over the 20 week H1n1 Pandemic.

How to Handle News: Media Detox

Limit your exposure: 

  1. Avoid having television running at all times.
  2. Consider setting a dedicated time once, at most twice, per day to check in on relevant and useful global happenings. 
  3. Consider print media over visual media, to reduce likelihood of emotional driven reporting. 
  4. Use app timers on your smart-phones and smart devices: 
      • Apple: Settings: Screen time 
        • Downtime – set a daily “schedule” away from screen time.
        • App limits: Set daily time limits for app categories, news, social media etc. 
      • iOS and Android apps: 
        • Freedom, Moment, Zenscreen, Breakfree, Socialfever
  5. Consider an electronic-free day – to redirect senses on the present moment, find gratitude in what you have, and allow for more opportunity to focus on the positives. 

Incorporate a stress reduction practice to keep you grounded, settled, and understanding in the continued unfolding events. 

  • Implement daily meditation and/or prayer, even for just 5-10 minutes/day. Before bed may be a good time to help the body prepare for sleep. Eventual goal is 20 minutes twice per day for maximum benefit.  
    • May use Smartphone apps such as Calm, Omvana, Headspace, Meditation Experience, Waking Up, etc to assist with meditation  
    • You may also attend Transcendental Meditation live instruction, see www.tm.org for more information. 
    • Ziva Method – “Learn How to Meditate – Offering 50% off online services through 4/30/20.
    • Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS)
      • Make sure you have a place where you feel heard and safe talking out your feelings. This could be a friend, family member, counselor or therapist. If you don’t like talk therapies, consider journaling or exercise as an outlet for stress release.
      • Walk barefoot on grass or natural ground (earthing) as often as possible.
      • Get outside into nature daily. 

Take conscious effort to maintain routine, and establish healthy habits 

  • Create normalcy by creating daily schedules based on responsibilities.
  • Take advantage of any additional time you may have to make positive changes for yourself 
  • How to get 1% better a day through habit hacking – Podcast with James Clear 

Valley Schools continues to provide communications and resources to help our members navigate the current global situation. You can learn more about us and how we serve our members and our communities by visiting us.

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