Does it lately seem like the only news is bad news? Whether you’re reading posts on Facebook or Twitter, listening to the radio or watching television, it seems to be everywhere. Even a night out with friends has turned into talk about fake news, toxic people at work, or encounters with angry, upset strangers. You haven’t seen someone smile all day, and everyone’s news seems full of doom and gloom.
It’s no surprise that bad news gets more attention than the good news. Our brains are wired to respond more strongly to negative situations. It is often said that even when 95 percent of what a person experiences or hears is positive, that person will still focus on the negative 5 percent. Constantly hearing, talking, and stressing about bad news is hard on your emotional health. Finding ways to minimize the harmful effects will help you find the good in life and avoid developing a negative bias. Here are four suggestions that can help you remain optimistic and grateful:
- Clean out negative situations and sources and replace them with more positive events, organizations, and news feeds. Negativity is contagious; if you immerse yourself in negative news, television, gossip, and events that promote hate or anger, you will begin feeling more cynical about life and the future. For every negative or toxic group you belong to, consider unsubscribing and replacing it with something positive or inspirational. In your relationships, consider joining an upbeat group with a mission to help make the future better.
- Practice relaxation and meditation techniques. Yoga studios, churches, and athletic facilities boast about the power of mediation, but you don’t need to join their group. You can do meditation and relaxation techniques at home. Sit down in a chair (or lie down on the floor) and practice being quiet. Close your eyes, slow down your breathing, and count to 4 as you inhale and 6 as you exhale. Your focus should be on noticing a difference in tense muscles and feeling as they relax. Individuals who practice each day notice slower heart rates, lower blood pressure, and a more relaxed demeanor.
- Practice gratitude. This is the easiest way to begin feeling more positive about your life and your future. Studies have shown that gratitude reduces anxiety, and many people begin to feel more optimistic and fortunate about their lives. Simply writing down three things you’re grateful for at the end of your day helps you wake up less stressed.
- Practice a different reaction. We’re wired to be creatures of habit, and it’s so much easier to fall into past behaviors. However, having the same reaction to negative news will keep you stuck in the same toxic situation. When someone is arguing, gossiping, or being passive aggressive, decide to react differently. Reacting to immature behavior with more immature behavior turns into a hopeless mess of contagious negativity. It’s a challenge but choosing a more positive reaction to their negative behavior helps you feel better about yourself and may even help them.
You cannot control the news, but you can control how you react to negative news. Part of self-care is practicing healthy habits to keep you at your best. Bad news does affect your emotions and your overall health, but you are the master of your thoughts and actions. It’s important to feel included, but when feeling included means you have to join in the negativity or hostility, it’s time to consider new relationships. There is a big world out there so don’t limit yourself to the negative.