The increasing influence of journalism these days has forced us to give a thought about the fluctuating standards of journalism. Along with the disastrous spread of Covid-19 and increasing death rates every day, a lot has happened in the last few months. Our country India, in particular, had to face a lot of ups and downs in almost all aspects. Beginning with the suicidal death of a film star, the series of unfortunate yet feasible events ended with the discussion over a drug racket which is alleged to be going on in Bollywood. This is what is mainly being shown to us through all the mediums of news. However, there are some other issues of national as well as local importance which are hidden from us. Increasing deaths because of Covid-19, increasing crimes, exploitation against women are not being discussed anymore. The impact of the the newly passed bills on the livelihood of farmers and labourers and the unfortunate state of migrant workers can’t be seen on mainstream news but we’re all, more or less aware of the situation here. Everyone has questions about why are these not being addressed openly and covered in spotlight? Why isn’t the government talking about it? What will happen of all those people? What if the same happens to us tomorrow? Is democracy failing? Being caught in all these unanswerable questions, we hardly give attention to the effect that such distressing news has on us and our mental health. Though psychological distress due to news has always been there but keeping in mind the happenings of this year, it has become more important to talk about it now than ever.
Distressing news and mental health
Distressing news is basically any piece of information that is upsetting and causes anxiety, sorrow or pain. Taking this year into consideration, all of us have been majorly exposed to distressing news since the outbreak of the pandemic. The subsequent lockdowns worsened the condition for most of us. A good number of people lost their jobs and even ran out of food and shelter. Some people were stuck in different cities and countries away from their homes. All these things have a direct impact on us as well as our mental health. Expert reports suggest that negative news has an influence on our mood and behavior just like the positive one. All types of news leave an impact on our minds directly or indirectly. Although the impact varies from individual to individual, most of us tend to think over what we’ve heard for a minimum of 2 days. Extremely saddening news can cause serious anxiety and stress and the person is subjected to what we call psychological distress. In severe cases, one can even develop a psychological disorder. Other health problems like sleep loss, fatigue, aggressive behavior, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. can also occur due to constant exposure to distressing news. Another aspect of it is that it could trigger anxiety in people who have been subjected to any kind of trauma or abuse.
Impact of distressing news on youth
Every age group especially adolescents and the youth, is influenced by what is going on in the country. Be it related to film stars or politics, all current issues influence their minds. This is the reason why we see more youngsters in any type of protests or strikes, and taking innovative steps for bringing change in the society. The youth of today is smart and wise enough to know what is right and wrong. Despite all this, the ones who go against the existing norms are either boycotted by society or put in jails. All the chaos going on in our society has a big influence on children’s personality development and even on the career option that they choose as adults. At times, they’re so influenced by current scenarios that they end up taking serious steps. While some practice self-harm activities, others tend to harm other people. All this is because of the inculcation of feelings of stress, anger, frustration, despair, dismay, etc. in them due to negative news.
Watching news should be a part of our self-care routine. Just like eating regular meals and going for a walk, it should be done for an adequate period of time. One should even take regular breaks from listening to the news to keep oneself mentally healthy. Seeing the current scenario, it becomes extremely necessary for us to think of ways by which one can decrease the negative impact of news.
One can tackle this type of distress by keeping in mind some simple steps which are as follows:
- Give yourself time to process
- Don’t believe every news that you hear
- Try to know the truth and the credibility of the source of the information
- Avoid jumping to conclusions
- Find healthy ways to vent your emotions
- Take long breaks from the news
- Look for healthier distractions
- Choose a better way of staying informed
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Manage your social media consumption
- Learn ways to manage your emotions
- Seek professional help, if necessary
In conclusion, as the quote by J.Cole goes, “The bad news is nothing lasts forever. The good news is nothing lasts forever.”
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