I have some bad news: Bad news is bad for you. According to recent research, the news cycle dominated by mass shootings, restrictions on women's rights, and Donald Trump can have consequences beyond just making us turn to kitten videos for comfort. In fact, the constant influx of bad news can have very real, physical ramifications. Don't you just love irony?
The Daily Dot reports that over time, the stress induced by a never-ending inundation of bad news takes a toll on the human brain. A solid body of evidence shows that stressful situations — like, say, watching the news and hearing about yet another mass shooting — activates release of dopamine and cortisol in the brain. Ideally, the neurotransmitters serve their purpose quickly, and they're no longer released once you're out of the situation that triggered the reaction. However, when you're surrounded on all sides by a 24/7 cycle of bad news, the hormones can stick around long past their welcome — and that's where the problem comes in. Chronic stress is known to have all kinds of negative effects, from minor problems like grinding your teeth to major health issues like compromised immune systems and high blood pressure.
"Former stressaholic" Dr. Heidi Hanna told the Daily Dot that the dopamine release triggered by stressful news can even become addictive. "I believe that outrage and becoming overly connected to bad news is an addiction based on the fact that most people are... looking for stimulation to help lift their mood and energy," she said. This is only exacerbated by the ease of accessing the news cycle, which is as close as the nearest smartphone for most people.
Unfortunately, media coverage most likely won't become any less negative as long as negative things keep happening. On the other hand, you can always choose not to participate in the news cycle if it's getting you down — try downsizing the amount of news apps on your phone, and don't spend your lunch break in the rabbit hole of negative news. Of course, this isn't to say you should stick your head in the sand, but there's no reason to obsess over things you can't control. To paraphrase the great Taylor Swift, we could all learn to shake (some things) off.
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