Having a good idea of the things that are happening in the world is a savvy thing to do, so how can you manage that without becoming overwhelmed?
Between the cost of living crisis, the conflict in Ukraine, political divides in the UK, the US, and across Europe, and a wealth of other pressing issues, simply turning on the news can feel like a mammoth task at the moment.
At the same time, many of these issues simply cannot be ignored. If you don’t stay informed on rising inflation and issues in the economy, for example, you won’t know what costs are coming or what forms of support might be available.
As a journalist, I have to stay on top of the news cycle, but taking care of my mental health is also a top priority for me. As a result, I’ve developed some techniques for staying informed without being overwhelmed by negativity and alarming news.
1. Limit access
The first step is to limit your access to the news. Having push notifications for news apps might be convenient, but it means you could potentially be presented with stressful information at any given moment. Put yourself back in control of how you digest information by choosing when and how you stay up to date.
Identify which news sources aren’t working for you, and take steps to remove them. You can also try unfollowing news sites on social media, or even blocking certain keywords if you find yourself doomscrolling, or getting increasingly stressed while browsing Instagram or Twitter.
2. Find trusted sources
Now that you’ve cut out the media sources that don’t suit you, it’s time to identify which ones do work. It’s always a good idea to read from a number of different sources, rather than one publication, to get a full sense of the media landscape. To ensure that you’re reading a wide range of publications, the Ground News Chrome extension is an excellent bias checker, showing the political leaning of the site you’re reading, and recommending other coverage on similar topics for a more rounded perspective.
In addition, news aggregators like Upday, Google News, and Flipboard will all learn from what you tend to read and show you more of the same, as well as the top stories of the day. This is an excellent way to access a wide range of news efficiently.
3. Develop a mindful routine
As well as how you consume the news, when you browse can also play a large role in how it affects you. Looking at the news first thing in the morning, or the last thing at night, means your brain is likely tired and not ready to deal with stressful information.
The best time to get updated is when your brain works best, no matter when in the day that is for you. Take half an hour while having breakfast or on your commute, or perhaps dedicate some time while on your lunch break – whenever you’re relaxed and ready to learn.
About 30 minutes or so should be enough to take in the top stories and most important updates on an average day. From there, take on board what you’ve learned, and then separate it from the rest of your day. The reason many people feel overwhelmed by the news is that there’s just so much of it, resulting in people switching off entirely. By limiting how much time you expose yourself to it, you increase your ability to take in what’s happening in a healthy way
4. Curate your news
Another way to make the news work for you is to choose the right medium. Some people may prefer reading, while others will pay better attention to podcasts. Curate how you access your news by choosing whatever format best suits you.
The most important element of staying up to date is actually taking the information in and using it to inform your decisions, and how you see the world. There’s no right or wrong way to stay informed, only the way that best suits you.
There’s no shame in stepping back and limiting access to the news. In fact, being mindful of how we consume the news, using tips like those above, means that we can stay informed in a more controlled and manageable way, without becoming overwhelmed.