Every day, there is something new and often heartbreaking on the news. This is nothing new; the news often covers the worst-of-the-worst events, which can make you feel even worse about the current state of the country. Right now in order to avoid complacency, it is more important than ever to stay informed and see what the president is doing. However, in order to stay healthy, it is also important to take a break from time to time.
As students, it is difficult to stay engaged and informed of the news in the first place, let alone try to take action outside of school. And when you try to, it can be discouraging to see all of the bad news. While it is important to stay informed, taking breaks from social media and the news can be a good way to relieve stress and even promote happiness.
Psychologist Graham Davey conducted a research study to measure a participant’s happiness after watching news bulletins. He found that,“those who watched the negative news bulletin all reported being significantly more anxious and sadder after watching this bulletin than those people who watched either the positive or neutral news bulletin.”
People are easily discouraged and sad after constantly receiving negative news, so why would we want to make ourselves sad constantly by looking at the news all day, every day?
In her blog, author Ann Douglas discussed how to not be destroyed by your social media news feed and the constant presence of negative news.
“Sure, you want to be aware of what’s happening in the world,” Douglas wrote. “But that doesn’t mean that you have to be plugged into your Twitter or Facebook feed 24/7.”
She suggested also looking at positive news stories, even if there are few, to balance out the bad news. Staying informed does not mean that you have to be constantly getting updates on your phone or reading every article that is posted on your Facebook timeline. This affirms the findings in Davey’s study, as the individuals who watched positive news were happier than those who viewed negative news.
Douglas also made a point about looking for opportunities to take action, even small things such as attending a meeting, writing a letter or donating to an organization. Although it might not feel important, if that is all you can do with all of your other obligations as a student, you are still doing something. There are plenty of opportunities to find meetings around campus or even talking to people you live with or having a respectful class discussion could turn out to be productive.
It is difficult to have optimism when it seems like everything that could go wrong has happened since Donald Trump won the presidency, but it is important to find the good in life still. Getting too wrapped up in the world and politics can be depressing and hard to handle on top of all of the stress that comes with being a full-time student. Studying for upcoming tests and doing research for that paper due next week is important, but it can feel somewhat insignificant in the big picture and what it might look upon graduation if things don’t change. Taking small actions can help you achieve a balance and allow you to still try to create change while also staying on top of school work, making time for yourself and improving your mental health.
Being engaged in the news can ultimately become depressing and discouraging. Taking a break is a good practice regardless of the political climate. But it is especially important now in order to avoid the burnout from everything, and to stay optimistic about life. Helen Keller once said, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
Without optimism, it is impossible to be motivated to make change or to be the best person you can be. Although this optimism is a bit hard to find right now, it is an important part of starting movements and your own well-being.