Have you ever toyed with the notion to just stop watching the news? Until recently you could have rightfully called me a news junkie. Discover how the decision to stop watching the news has improved my health and wellbeing. And it might just do the same for you.
Okay, I am pretty excited about this post. A couple of months ago I made a very simple and practical change to my daily routine. Now I am thrilled to share the positive impact it has had.
The small big change: Stop watching the News
Before I go any further. This is not a political post. It's not about being an Independent, Republican, or Democrat. It's a wellness improvement post.
I don't believe that watching the news is bad or that the news media is bad. But I have come to realize that my ongoing news consumption did not help me live my best life.
This post is about sharing the awesome benefits I have experienced since I decided to stop watching The News. And I'll share how I did it. Maybe it'll inspire you to stop watching the news for a while, too.
I was a news junkie. I found myself engaged in the latest drama of the breaking news and captured by dramatic storylines every day. Danger, pain, and suffering seems to be everywhere.
It didn't really matter if the news was local, national, or international. The majority of stories highlight problems and drama. I am not going to go on a deep-dive of the role of the press or anything like that. I am just going to share how it left me feeling anxious, fearful, and tense.
And then I decided to just stop watching the news...
Here are four outstanding reasons to stop watching the News
When was the last time you watched the news and felt good about the world afterwards? I came to realize that most news stories we consume have three things in common: a) it's almost always bad; b) there's nothing we can do about it, and: c) it has no direct bearing on our lives. This one change in my life has resulted in:
- Decreased Anxiety
- Increased my Positivity
- Boosted Creativity
- Increased Productivity
I know. These claims might seem overblown. They're not. Read for yourself and you'll see that your own experience might be very similar.
#1 Decreased Anxiety
Let's face it. The news is rarely good. And we don't need to get caught up in the drama of a news cycle to be well-informed.
Lots of us already deal with too much anxiety, stress, and overwhelm in our lives. Managing that can make a big difference.
I’m no medical professional. I just believe that the constant drip of human suffering, catastrophes, and injustice feeds our anxiety. I’m not saying that I stopped watching the news and magically cured my anxiety.
But I have noticed that removing the news has given me fewer things to fret about!
#2 Increased Positivity
I feel more positive and less stressed since I stopped listening to scary, fear-inducing, and downright disturbing news stories in the mornings.
My overall positivity has improved by reducing the amount of negative information.
Now I start my days listening to podcasts (or audiobooks). And after doing this for a while I've noticed that I have more creative energy and feel more positive!
There are a million and one podcasts. Right now I especially enjoy podcasts about: blogging, entrepreneurship, and healthy living.
Although I’ve listened to podcasts for a long time, I’ve never deliberately used them to shape my day.
And that makes sense. Instead of beginning the day with tension-filled information, I am now filling my mind with inspiring information. And there are many times when a podcast will spark ideas for a new project!
Anxiety doesn't like positivity. Anxiety feeds on fear and negative emotions. Now that I have actively reduced that stream of negative information, I've find that my generally positive outlook on life has returned.
#3 Boosted Creativity
Another amazing benefit after I stopped watching the news, is that I've begun to feel more creative. Being creative can increase our perception of feeling happy.
One of the cool things about being a blogger is that we 'wear a lot of different hats.' We create content to help people, engage with our readers, make images and videos, write emails, invent products, do our own marketing ... the list goes on.
There have been so many times when I've listened to a podcast and thought, 'Now that's a great idea!'
Honestly, I've never had reaction after listing to a news report.
Because I select what I'm going to listen to, I am more in control.
#4 Increased Productivity
Guess what: I get more stuff done!
All of the above makes me a happier camper. I feel more positive and creative, and that has helped me to be more productive.
And I've also been more aware of the need to slow down at times. And this has helped me to focus on what is truly important and where to focus my energy.
As a result, I am more present and focused on the people around me and in my business.
How I got inspired to stop watching the news
In September I went to a blogging conference. One of the speakers was Rosemarie from The Busy Budgeter. And one of the success strategies she mentioned was that she had stopped watching the news.
It wasn't the main point of her talk. It was really just something she mentioned as an example of what worked for her. But the idea intrigued me.
Afterwards I began to ask myself why I was of watching endless news cycles every day.
- Had I turned in a news junkie?
- What are the benefits of inundating myself with the news every single day?
- Did all this news consumption help me to help other people?
- Was anybody better off watching the news? Was I helping anyone?
After I examined my own reasons, I came to the conclusion that there were no clear benefits to watching the news. The idea intrigued me. But how was it going to work in everyday life?
How to stop watching the news - one day at a time
When I decided to stop watching the news, I realized that it wasn't going to happen overnight.
First, I discovered that it's not that easy to stop watching the news. There are so many ways we consume the news: TV, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, newspapers, apps, magazines, radio... I the list goes on and on.
Second, I realized that I had to fight off a habit. Having the news run in the background had become a (bad) habit.
Also, I would catch myself absorbed in a news feed without realizing how I'd gotten there. If you're working on a computer for many hours every day, you know how easy it is to 'skim' the headlines for a moment.
If you decide to try this for yourself, be prepared, it's not going to happen overnight. Cut yourself some slack.
But the good news is that it will get easier every single day.
Begin with your morning routine
At first just cut out the news in the mornings. For me this already represented a 90% decrease of news consumption!
Was it difficult? Kind of - at first.
But the benefits far outweighed any feelings I had about needing super informed all the time.
Replacing the news with Podcasts
This may be my new secret sauce. Generally, my morning routine hasn't changed all that much. But it turns out that there is a much better way to begin your day than watching anxiety-inducing news stories.
I began listening to podcasts in the morning.
Nowadays there are so many podcasts no matter what you are interested in; you'll find something you enjoy.
There are podcasts about knitting, beekeeping, teaching art to kids, homeschooling, gardening in a swamp... You get the drift. The magic of podcasts is that there's a good chance you share a passion with somebody else who's producing a great podcast.
Not every podcasts is going to be your cup of tea. So experiment a bit, read some reviews on Stitcher or iTunes and just have fun.
One of the benefits is that great podcasts will have a lot of valuable information and often actionable advice.
As content creator myself, I find that a good podcast can leave me feeling incredibly excited to start working. Simply because there'll be a nugget of information in the podcast that I'll want to implement in my business.
This is true, even if I will not be able to act right away on the information. At least it will go on my Someday To List.
Unsubscribing from News related Email Subscriptions
Next it's time to check your email feed to see if you have subscribed to news-related emails. If you have, cancel the subscription. You can always resubscribe at a later date.
Depending on how many email news related email subscriptions you have this may also have the added benefit of decluttering your mailbox and reduce email overwhelm.
Snooze the News - Facebook and Twitter
Unfollow all the news sites you've previously subscribed to on Facebook. Or if you are are planning to stop watching the news as a trial, you can also use Facebook's 30 day snooze function.
If you have somebody in your immediate circle that will constantly post or share news stories, I'd recommend to snooze them as well.
They will not be notified that you are temporarily unfollowing them. You can even unfollow them for good and still remain friends!
Twitter is tougher! You can make a Twitter list of all news sites you follow and mute them for a while. Twitter has never been my 'social media vice' but if anybody has a great strategy on how to eliminate news from your Twitter feed, please comment below.
Ask for support from family and friends
My family loves to chat about politics and the news. Like in most families opinions vary. And that's ok. Because I was trying to actively cut down my news consumption I asked them for their support.
And I explained that a lot of the times the watching the news left me feeling tense and anxious. Thus far everybody has been on board! I am blessed because I have an exceptionally supportive family.
Now when I say this, take it with a grain of salt. I don't expect everybody to change topics when I am around or to never discuss what's going on in the world.
Final thoughts about stop watching the news
If you want to reduce the stress level in your life, consider to stop watching the news for while yourself.
And remember it doesn't have to be all or nothing. There have been times over when I have engaged with the news in some form or another.
But by now my consumption has probably dropped by about 90% and that's what works for me.
Maybe all you do is to snooze your Facebook news subscriptions and notifications. I'd love to hear from you. Have you ever tried to stop watching the news? Did you notice any improvements in your life?