Experiencing Political News Overload?
Many clients complain that political news overload these days is a major current eating stressor. They feel angry, helpless, despairing and frightened about the future. They don’t know whether to laugh, scream or cry. So they eat. Here’s how to avoid political news overload and retain your sanity:
Taking in news:
- Recognize that though the news is available 24/7/365, we don’t have to partake of it in
all forms all those times. I have a friend who listens to podcasts while she runs and when the podcasts are over and she’s returned home, that’s it. She relies on certain sites to keep her informed, is very choosy about what she listens to, and doesn’t tend to listen to an endless array of podcasts on the same subject.
- It’s not great to focus on the news while you’re eating if it’s likely to trigger overeating
because you get anxious or angry hearing about politics today. Nor is it a super idea to catch the news before you go to bed because it’s not going to bring forth visions of sugar plums dancing in your head. Rather, it may cause you to agonize over what you just saw, heard or read.
- I prefer reading my news, for the most part, in print or digitally. That way, I can skip
over what I don’t want to hear or see. I use the radio and TV sparingly and don’t listen to news podcasts. Reading puts me in the kind of control which makes me feel best.
- Humans are funny: When we’re anxious, we seek out more information rather
than less, believing that it will reduce our anxiety. But, surprise, more viewing (or listening or reading) often raises anxiety. The moral of the story is to stay in touch with feelings and recognize if you’re more frazzled by what you’re doing, stop doing it.
- This process is not dissimilar from stopping eating when food is no longer bringing
you pleasure. Keeping on eating isn’t going to bring back the pleasure. Feeling less of it means that you’re done.
- Many thoughts will float through your mind during the day, but you don’t act on them
all. You recognize that some are to be heeded (the need to get up in the morning so as not to be late for work) and some are not (the desire to kill someone who cuts you off in traffic). Some thoughts just show up, among them items from the news.
- Take charge of your thoughts and give them the red or green light. If the news
intrudes, ignore it and keep ignoring it until it stops trying to get your attention. It’s important to keep up with political news, but it’s unhealthy to let it rule your life.