Mental Health Tips and the 24-Hour News Cycle


By Emily Smith

If you work in Communications and Public Relations, it is highly likely that you are consuming the news. It is important to be up to date on the current headlines, consumer trends and competitor news within the industries our clients represent. We also must pay attention to the breaking news being reported. A breaking news story can inform our strategy and determine if we need to pause on any pitching or scheduled social media posts; we’ve blogged about this topic before.  After all, it may be insensitive to publish a lighthearted post about the launch of a new food or beverage product at the same time journalists are announcing a breaking update related to a critical election or global crisis.

The current news cycle can be overwhelming and to consume it every day may leave you feeling drained and struggling to stay focused on work.  According to the American Psychological Association, research suggests that frequent and recurring media exposure can lead to increased anxiety. So, how can we continue to stay informed and manage our mental health while taking in an endless loop of often difficult or anxiety-provoking news updates? Below are suggestions to keep in mind when consuming daily news.

  1. Balance your media intake. It’s true that we must understand how current affair affect our industry and our clients, but it doesn’t need to be the only type of news we read/watch/listen to. For each breaking news article you read,  match it with a feel-good human-interest story. Try to read a section of the newspaper that addresses your personal interests such as sports, movie reviews, or cooking tips. After watching the evening news, open a book or read a favorite magazine.
  2. Credibility counts. It is important to read and watch a variety of different news sources so that we aren’t getting one-sided or biased coverage. It is also important to make sure the media we choose is credible, and that our news sources aren’t spreading misinformation or sensationalizing the coverage. Stick with news that offers fact-based, neutral coverage.
  3. Demonstrate patience. If you are a manager one of the kindest ways to help ease any news-related stress is to be patient with your team. Consider shifting lower priority meetings or deliverables a day or two back. Remember that people consume and react to news updates differently. Offer to connect with team members to discuss how they are feeling and if it is possible to reassign projects to other team members who may want to keep occupied and busy.
  4. Do something. When a news story sparks an emotion, hold yourself accountable. Write to your local government official, donate to a cause you care about, volunteer at an upcoming event. Inc. published additional ideas on how to channel productivity if you’re feeling anxious.

Be curious, stay informed and check in with yourself and your feelings.