Guest Editorial: Bad news pileup can lead to anxiety

As the opening lyrics say in “No Bad News” from the stage play and movie “The Wiz”:

When I wake up in the afternoon

Which it pleases me to do

Don’t nobody bring me no bad news

‘Cause I wake up already negative

And I’ve wired up my fuse

So don’t nobody bring me no bad news

A whole string of negative stories are in the news these days: gun violence increasing across the nation, COVID-19 cases back on the rise, record inflation, an outbreak of monkeypox, baby formula shortages, supply chain issues, worker shortages in almost every industry, high gas prices, low voter turnout across the country, threats against democracy and international unrest. What more do you want with bad news?

We are inundated with negative headlines every day. So many of these issues will have long-term effects across the globe.

CNN media analyst Bill Carter likens the negativity to long-term COVID. “Everything is bad and we can’t get healthy again,” he said. “The confluence (of bad news) feels really overwhelming.”

Just as soon as one thing hits us, such as the racist attack on a Buffalo supermarket that killed 10 Black people, something else traumatizing appears around the corner.

Thanks to social media and news alerts on cellphones, some people go to bed with or wake up to an ocean of bad news.

Things such as the Citizen app let people know when something bad has happened near their location. You know on the spot through this crowdsourced app when there’s a shooting, carjacking, protest, fight, fire, accident, etc. near you or any neighborhood you wish to monitor. And it is usually accompanied by live photos and videos that can make you feel like you’re on the scene.

Mental health experts recommend many tips to help cope with the onslaught of bad news: Be nice to yourself, talk to a professional, connect with others (friends, family or maybe even a pet), take deep breaths, try meditation, write in a journal, eat healthy, exercise and sleep well.

All of these tips are important. Sometimes you need to avoid or limit how much bad news you get. Consuming too much negative content, which is called “doomscrolling,” can lead to anxiety and depression. Many researchers recommend limiting how often you consume bad news and the amount of time you spend reading it.

“We’ve had so much news from COVID-19 and the economic breakdown to the reckoning with racial injustice combined with hurricanes and firestorms,” said Roxane Cohen Silver, a research psychologist at the University of California-Irvine. She adds that the political environment adds stress to all of this. “We’re not advocating that people put their head in the sand — just that people monitor the frequency and volume of news they consume.”

There also needs to be a certain amount of time spent on things and content that make you feel good about yourself and your world.

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