How to Be Intentional about Watching the News

By The Greater Good Science Center

Staying informed during this unprecedented time is important, but news can become a source of stress and anxiety. We need to remain intentional about the media we consume to protect our mental health. Jill Suttie, Psy.D, from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Center shares research on media consumption along with ways to be intentional with your own reading and viewing habits during the pandemic.

For many people, limiting negative news consumption is critical to our mental health. Research suggests that when we consume many negative stories, we are less trusting, less tolerant, and more antisocial. Too much repetitive, sensationalist news can lead to acute stress, PTSD-like symptoms, and worse health in the future.

One way to be intentional about the news we’re consuming is to focus on high-quality sources. Of course, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization can provide factual updates and recommendations related to coronavirus. Consuming news from social media can be problematic, because bad news spreads quickly there, whether it’s accurate or not. Your best bet is to stick to a few reputable, nonpartisan sources and avoid obsessively checking the news throughout the day—once a day is reasonable.

In addition, it’s important to seek out positive news stories that are inspiring and describe solutions (not just problems), and to share them with your friends and loved ones. These types of stories uplift us and provide us with a sense of personal agency. Consuming positive news helps us to remain tolerant toward others and be better friends and neighbors.

For more information on being intentional with your news consumption, check out this article by the Greater Good Science Center, an Experience Happiness partner.