Direct from
Dr. Lowenstein

How the News Affects Your Mental Health –and What to Do About It

The last few years have been challenging. From the pandemic to the war in Ukraine, it feels like every day brings a constant barrage of bad news. To make matters worse, the 24-hour news cycle is designed to attract readers and viewers with the most sensational stories, and social media continues to be a forum for the news and any discourse surrounding it. It’s no wonder stress levels are skyrocketing. Today more than ever, people admit to feeling overwhelmed—even depressed—by the news.

Turns out, bad news can affect your mood, resulting in increased levels of anxiety, stress, fear and sadness. It can even lead to negative thoughts and worry about what’s happening in your own life. Over a period of time, the exposure could impact both your physical and mental health in the form of headaches, insomnia, exhaustion and burnout. You might be tense or quick to anger. And your productivity could be negatively impacted as well.     

Regardless of what you’re feeling, there’s a fine line between staying informed and simply ignoring the news altogether, although the latter may be tempting. If you’re having trouble coping with the news, consider the following tips:

  • Limit your news exposure. Establish a specific time to check your newsfeed or watch the news. Set a timer if you need to. Mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed or leaving the television on in the background will do you no good. Once you have the news you need, move on.
  • Subscribe to a daily newsletter or podcast. Many news sources produce a daily newsletter or podcast that summarizes the most important news stories of the day. This allows you to stay informed without feeling overwhelmed or wasting precious time.
  • Choose your news sources wisely. Traditional news sources are legally bound to tell the truth. Their trained journalists must abide by a code of ethics. Beware of fake news or simply believing what you hear on social media.
  • Get the news from someone you trust. If you need to avoid the news for a while, ask a trusted friend or family member to keep you informed if anything critically important takes place.
  • Avoid the news at bedtime. Bad news before you hit the sack is a recipe for insomnia. Instead, fill your late-evening hours with a hobby, uplifting reading or something you truly enjoy. Likewise, you may not want to start your day with the news as it could divert your attention and create a sense of drama that negatively affects your productivity.
  • Take care of yourself. Focus on the more uplifting things in your life. Spend time with friends. Exercise regularly, eat well and engage in activities that improve your mood and safeguard your well-being. You have little or no control over much of what you see and hear in the news, so focus instead on what you can control. In many cases, that could mean limiting your exposure to the news.   

Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.