I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it has been so helpful for me, it bears repeating: you do not have to follow the news.
I used to turn on a morning show when I was getting ready for work in the morning. At the gym, I turned on the little television wobbling above my elliptical and checked in with the cable news networks. Then, if I needed a break at work, I hopped over to various news providers to stay on top of the latest breaking stories.
After I had Julian in November 2015, I decided to take a media fast. I did not watch the news on television. I disabled various apps on my phone that fed me headlines. I stopped visiting any website concerning current affairs. I even stayed off Facebook.
I have never looked back.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I am back on Facebook, and two or three times a week, I check the news online. (And no, I’m not going to tell you my favorite websites for current affairs because I don’t want to inspire you to check out a new website if you are in the middle of a mental health crisis.)
I don’t know if there was a drug bust in downtown L.A. yesterday. I don’t know if there was a high speed chase during rush hour. And I certainly couldn’t tell you the last thing tweeted by Trump.
But I do know the big stuff. It’s not like I’m living in a bubble. I go out into the world and mingle, and I hear enough to know about the Big Stuff. I can especially rely on my Facebook friends to keep important headlines in my news feed.
Every now and then, someone expresses astonishment or dismay over my lack of awareness about the latest scandal. I shrug it off. My neighbor or friend might think I’m an idiot. That’s their problem, not mine. I don’t have to prove to anyone that my mental health benefits from limited contact with current affairs.
The headline for this post is “Mental Health Tip: Stay Off the News.” But really, it should be “Consider A Current Affairs Fast.” I’m not saying that every woman with a maternal mood disorder should stay away from the news. I don’t know you! Maybe the news is the bedrock of your mental health. We are all wired differently, and we all respond to life in different ways.
But, I would love to convince everyone I know to take a Current Affairs Fast for a month, or a week, or even a day, just to see what happens to their happiness levels.
You might find that the news is a vital part of your mental health. If so, that’s great to know.
But if you are like me, you might discover you feel better without the news. We only have 24 hours in a day. The time you spend scanning negative headlines could be used for some sort of self-care, whether that means a bubble bath or karate lesson.
If you take a fast from current affairs, and someone criticizes you for doing it, just blame me. I’ll be your mental health fall guy any day!