Time for a break from The (Bad) News!

Social-Distancing? Yep, got it!

So, now how about ‘News-Distancing?”

As I sat down to have my lunch one day last week, there was a ‘coming up’ announcement for the BBC Radio 4 World at One news programme which proudly announced “Covid Virus – the latest on who’s dying where!”

Just the thing to help us enjoy, digest, and benefit from our midday meal.

So I switched off the radio, waited a few minutes for the various news bulletins to be completed, and tuned in again to a music programme.  I didn’t want to be subjected to the Nocebo effect! (The what? There’s an article on this ‘coming up’ next, as they say on the radio! (This is from the May 2020 Pegasus NLP Newsletter.

News of deaths and threats for over 4 months!

Think about it.  We’ve been threatened and scared by the media since late January with coverage from China, Italy and Spain initially and then the first UK deaths.

By early March there were threats of a lockdown (which surprise, surprise began about 4 weeks of panic buying). Then the government began the daily death statistics. And lots of stories of people getting ill and then dying – including blow by blow details of how the symptoms progress.

News like this doesn’t make you well

And. it can actually make you ill, unless you’re very careful.  It has two important effects

  1. It creates a growing pessimism about our future i.e. will I get ill, survive, etc?
  2. It creates a Nocebo effect i.e. our mind-body recreates the details of the described symptoms. As you read about, or listen to, or watch the description you check your own internal state for correlation. This risks lowering your immunity.

Action points

Take a break from the negativity – have a break after over 100 days of gloom and doom.

  1. Limit the News to just one brief session a day
  2. Switch off once they begin describing the details of pain, death, or symptoms
  3. Discriminate – select that news input which has least emotional impact:

TV – the combination of sound and vision has most ‘suck you in’ impact

Radio – not ‘quite’ so emotionally impactful – although the evoked mental images can be powerful

Print – this is easiest to emotionally detach yourself from and is most likely to evoke critical thinking.

But isn’t this denying reality?

Immersing myself in the awfulness that exists in many parts of the world doesn’t alleviate it. Feeling bad because others are feeling bad doesn’t make their world better.

Importantly, we have a responsibility to ourselves, to those close to us, and to the country’s health system, to maintain our physical and our mental health by avoiding what unnecessarily reduces our health.

And the news media does have this negative effect.

(Read how newspapers can bring us down if we cooperate with them. Written in November 2000 after a few days running an NLP training programme in Ireland: Take a break from the bad news – it’s on our main website. Check the additional links at the end of the article, too)