Sometimes it can seem like the news is coming at you from all directions.
There are all the traditional sources of news: newspapers, magazines, radio, and broadcast television. There are more recent sources of news: online publications, social media, podcasts, and cable television (though it seems like cable has been part of our lives forever at this point). No matter the time of day or night, all the news is available to us all of the time.
In some ways, that is a good thing. After all, it is important to be informed about what is happening in your community, your state, the country, and around the world. A shared understanding of the news helps folks work together to solve problems and make things better.
But for a person in recovery for a substance use disorder or a person with a mental health disorder or a person dealing with co-occurring disorders, the ongoing onslaught of news can be problematic.
Let’s take a look at why that might be—and consider some healthy ways you can stay informed.
Some News Is Good, But Too Much Is Bad
You have heard the phrase, “No news is good news.” That is not what we are arguing here. Instead, we are making a case that too much engagement with it can increase symptoms of anxiety or depression. And those difficult feelings can tempt a person in recovery to return to drug or alcohol use. So, a judicious approach to staying informed is a good idea.
Consider Establishing a News Budget for Yourself
Budgeting is important, of course, when it comes to managing your money. It can also be a good practice when it comes to your news consumption.
As we have noted, the news is available all of the time, but you don’t have to interact with it all of the time. Instead, you might set aside a specific time to engage with current events each day. Maybe you read the paper in the morning over breakfast. Maybe you listen to a favorite radio program or podcast on your commute. Perhaps you tune into the nightly show. Or maybe you check in with your favorite online source after dinner.
Picking an outlet or two and determining when you will engage with it can help you manage how the news impacts your mood.
Timing Is Everything
We have just encouraged you to pick a time or two during the day when you will engage with the news. By and large, that will be a matter of what works best for you. But there are two times of day we would strongly suggest you avoid perusing it.
The first is first thing in the morning. So many of us open our eyes and immediately turn our attention to our phones. That might include news updates. As a rule, however, it is healthier to start your day without your phone in your hand. Delaying your engagement each morning can help your day get started in a more positive way.
The second time you might consider avoiding scanning the news is right before bed. We have noted how it can sometimes spark anxiety—and anxiety can disrupt your ability to get to sleep. A healthy sleep routine is essential to your sobriety and your mental health, so ending your interaction with the news earlier in the evening is a good idea.
Know the Difference Between News and Commentary
One of the things that has turned up the ability of so-called “news” to lead to controversy, anger, and anxiety is an inability to consistently differentiate between news and commentary.
In some forms of media, it can be fairly easy to tell the difference. For example, opinion pieces in papers tend to be clearly marked. But in other forms of media—social media and cable programming come to mind—the distinction between reporting built on facts and commentary built on opinion is often blurred.
One way to tell the difference? If the “news” you are watching or reading seems intended to inspire an emotion—especially if that emotion is anger or worry or sadness—there is a good chance you are engaging with commentary. Opinion pieces can certainly have value, but it is important that you don’t mistake them for hard news. It is also important that you stay aware of how commentary affects your emotions.
We Can Help with Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders
Much of the news we encounter is negative. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, a mental health disorder, or both, we can help. At Wooded Glen Recovery Center in Henryville, IN, we have the expertise and empathy necessary to create personalized treatment plans that can help you regain your sobriety, improve your mental health, and maintain both over time.