Protect yourself from overexposure to the news

In many cases, continued exposure to shocking news media can promote fear-based states of anxiety and distress. We have a clear example of this in the current media situation on the war in Ukraine. Or not so long ago, in the first months of the pandemic.

The images presented are shocking and frightening. If several cognitive biases also come into play, we have an explosive mix.

The nature of cognitive biases

Let’s first see what prejudices are. They are sort of mental shortcuts that our brain uses to save resources. In this case, we are interested in two biases triggered by the continuous bombardment of images and news.

Availability bias

This bias works when we rely excessively on available information. To put it simply, if my neighbor won the lottery, I tend to believe that he can win me too, even if it is statistically unlikely that he wins two neighbors. But with this bias, we think something is more likely to happen given our familiarity with the situation.

Frequency bias

Frequency bias It happens when we look at something and it seems more mainstream than it actually is.. For example, when we change cars or we like a specific model, it will give us the impression that there are more models like that circulating on the roads.

Overexposure and distorted perception of reality

These biases they increase familiarity and perception of risk in a situation that is usually not very common. Both biases, as well as the exposed images, trigger in us a primary emotion, which is fear. When we cannot properly regulate this emotion, states of anxiety or anxiety appear.

This powerful emotion, fear without managing it properly, leads us to blockage and to having responses that are not adaptive and that hinder our daily life, sometimes to the point of making it unbearable.

Feed fear and anxiety

Fear generally provokes three classic responses: fight, flight or blockade. There is talk of a fourth that we humans exhibit, which is submission in links, but that is not the purpose of this article. In the current situation, we can neither fight nor flight, so anxious responses that feed on fear paralyze us or lead us to non-adaptive behaviors that are performed in an attempt to alleviate discomfort.

Anxiety has fear as its main source of energy, is their main food. And paradoxically, the more we try to avoid fear, the stronger it is. The answer at the level of internal emotional management is to give space to this fear; it can be learned to do as part of a therapeutic process and on an external behavioral level, stop nurturing it through self-care, protecting us.

In the pandemic, the population has been intimidated in order to achieve citizen collaboration; if we compare the informative treatment of the last waves in which he was also dead, on the one hand, with the first, on the other hand, there is no color. But the perceived threat level was much higher at the start than in recent months.

The idea of ​​being informed is often confused with that of being inundated.; the media currently seem to work by continually flooding one topic, until they move on to the next.

And what can we do?

Since we are ordinary citizens, it is not for us to cause or stop wars or volcanic eruptions, no matter how much we care or worry.

First of all, we can take care of ourselves and protect our mental healthlimiting over-information or repeated exposure to shocking news.

Is it necessary to watch television daily twice a day? No, especially if you notice it affecting your mental health and mood.

We’re not talking about being hermits, just taking care of ourselves by setting limits on what we can do. Treatment is similar to what we can do with social media if we feel they are affecting us excessively, limit our exposure to them consciously.

If you want to be informed, it is important that you find a way to decide for yourself when you want to be informed, i.e. control access to information yourself.

And you will say to me: What if there was a super important key news? I’m sure you will know, even if you don’t see the news, they will tell you. Or when you decide to report it, you will see.

On the other hand, sometimes when our resources are overflowing, it can be useful seek help from specialized professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists or doctors to take back our lives.

Leave a Comment