Self-preservation (otherwise known as the fight-or-flight response) is a natural, biological process. “As humans, we need to be informed in order to protect ourselves,” Nerurkar says. This is why, even when the news is negative, we often feel compelled to read it.
Staying up-to-date is important, but when you’ve started looking at the news for three or more hours per day, it becomes maladaptive, meaning, what started out as beneficial, suddenly becomes harmful.
“Think of it like exercise,” Nerurkar says. “It’s good for you, right? But if you do it for hours on end, it becomes unhealthy.”
Right now, you’re probably already in heightened states of stress, according to Nerurkar. Therefore, consuming COVID-19 news in excess—whatever your definition of that is—will only heighten your stress response.
“Keeping your media use in check helps to keep your stress in check,” she says. “If people are engaging in the news for three to five hours right now, their mental health is probably not optimized.”
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