Staying on top of the news is part of being a good citizen. But what happens your media diet is making you sick?
In this episode, I sit down with Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a clinical psychologist and a professor at UT San Antonio, who studies how the news affects our stress levels and our well-being.
We talk about the psychic impact of an always-on news cycle, why consuming too much media makes us feel out of control, and what steps we can take to minimize our anxiety without having to go off the grid entirely.
Key takeaways from our conversation:
- Why we have a primal need to pay attention to news that identifies a threat
- How taking a local approach to addressing global issues can allay your anxiety
- Why we don’t get happy endings in the news, and what that does to our brains
- Practical ways to tweak your media diet for less stress
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“Just like with social media, I think when you look at the news and there’s something intriguing or exciting or even threatening, it gives you that little rush. We are not a society anymore that’s used too long periods of quiet time without input. We’re inundated all the time, and so you have to keep increasing the load to keep it exciting.”
“We’ve never changed the society and the culture so quickly, we’re out in front of evolution right now. To me, the miracle is that the brains that have been our operating system for thousands of years can drive at 70 miles an hour, talk on the phone, and look at the GPS at the same time. Probably some of the depression and anxiety that people report feeling are part of this experiment, where we’re asking ourselves to do something that we really don’t know how to do.”
“The kind of suggestions I give people for managing the news are not different than the solutions I would give them if they’re in a job they don’t like or relationship they don’t like.”
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A shortlist of the people and ideas referenced in our conversation:
- Mary’s book Mind the Gap: Coping with Stress in the Modern World
- Paul Slovic on risk assessment
- Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
- When to turn off the news
- Follow Mary: Website
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