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The Headlines Can Stress You Out – Here’s How

September 20, 2022

While I was hanging out with some friends last night, one of them gasped out of the blue and showed me her phone screen. She murmured, “The Queen is no more..” It was news about Queen Elizabeth passing away. The mood in the room changed from lively to morose and for the next hour, the chatter was all about England’s politics, world politics and of course, how things are looking bleak for everyone in the world. While these scenarios may be commonplace, the extent to which they play out and the intensity with which people react, matters. 

Headline stress

 

Globally, the phenomenon of ‘Headline Stress Disorder’ has been around for a very long time. It is a highly emotional response to continued news reports of anxiety-inducing crises. It was evident in the United States following the Ebola outbreak, and in Nigeria, with the Monkeypox virus outbreak. China witnessed the same disorder with the onset of the COVID19 pandemic. This was the same time when India saw the repercussions of the ‘Headline Stress Disorder’ at its peak. Continued updates of the spread of the virus, the extent and outcomes of the havoc wrecked by it, and vivid doomsday predictions, cast a spell of mental anguish and gloom, for most people tuning in.  

 

Understanding The Causes

News by itself has much lesser mental health implications, than when it is presented with all the drama and histrionics added to it, which has by far, become the order of the day. News channels often explode with 6 to 8 people competing on that one screen frame, for time, space, attention, and sound bytes, shattering the viewer’s peace of mind and emotional balance. This can reach pathologically identifiable levels of stress, fear, Anxiety, panic, and an adverse escalation of symptomatology, for those already diagnosed with a mental health disorder, all of whom may not have access to further help, intervention and treatment. The anxious, overthinking personality types face the worst aftermath of such media makeovers. Caregivers of patients suffering from mental health disorders can further slip into burnout as the exposure to such stress further accentuates. The ‘intent’, ‘content’, and ‘extent’ of the news bytes, also plays a huge, contributing role towards the damage being done, hence ‘prevent’ is a justifiable word in the dictionary of the individual at risk. 

 

Identifying The Symptoms

Reading the headlines of the newspaper or listening to the news on TV or other devices, induces identifiable symptoms of stress which include: 

  1. Restlessness
  2. Fear
  3. Overthinking
  4. Anxiety
  5. Irritability
  6. Tremulousness
  7. Panic/Catastrophic thinking
  8. Dry mouth
  9. Stomach upsets
  10. Crying spells
  11. Decreased sleep and appetite


These symptoms can further decrease our ability to be attentive and focused in our work at hand, thereby decreasing work output and efficiency! When stress levels build-up, it tends to cast its shadow of dark despair upon our relationships, our self-esteem, and our self-confidence, impacting our life & lifestyle negatively, on a daily basis.

 

Managing The Disorder

 

  1. Listen To Your Mind And Body: The most important aspect is to be vigilant and pick up the signals that your mind and body give you, of the wear and tear coming through, due to the increasing levels of stress experienced. Just as we must eat only as much as we can digest, and feel comfortable; so also, it would be best to restrict our levels of news intake, to that which we can tolerate and manage, without adverse effects. 
  2. Slot Time To Follow The News: It is preferable to follow the news in the earlier half of the day, and keep away from media histrionics, during the later part of the day, this helps to ensure better sleep too. 
  3. Take Care Of Your Well-Being: Improving your general wellbeing by indulging in meditation, mindfulness, exercise, walking, etc., is also beneficial. Pursuing a hobby or talent, can help in distracting the mind and channelizing our energies and emotions, in a constructive and more creative manner. 
  4. Stick To The Facts: Fighting fears with relevant facts, avoiding fiction and futuristic imagination, helps to stabilize the mind. Expressing our thoughts and fears, with those who matter, also helps in decreasing our levels of stress. 
  5. Stay Positive: Paying attention to happy news, acknowledging more sunshine stories, and spreading the same amongst our circles of family & friends, makes a positive difference.  

And always remember, if none of this helps as much as it should, we must go ahead and contact the nearest psychologist to have a healthy conversation about our perceived stress and its effects, without shame or delay, because a stitch in time saves nine.

Reaching out

Helpers at heyy, are trained and experienced Mental Health Professionals who are equipped with tools to provide 24×7 mental health care to our users. Toxic workplace, trauma, and chronic stress are severe issues that can have grave mental health consequences.

 

If you identify with any of the symptoms mentioned in this piece, we recommend you reach out to our Helpers to seek help. It is important to remember that it is okay to reach out!

 

Download the heyy, app to take a quick self assessment and get your own stress score to guide you in the next steps of your mental health journey!

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