How to stay informed without getting depressed

Recently, it’s been challenging for “heartsparklers” to stay positive when they’re checking social media and news feeds on breaks, so I thought it would be interesting to explore: How to stay informed without getting depressed.

We already know that news coverage in general is heavily skewed to focus on the negative, add the current level of political activity and even the most positive person can feel helpless and hopeless.

According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, people who watched just three minutes of negative news in the morning had a whopping 27% greater likelihood of reporting their day as unhappy 6-8 hours later. Wow. That means that the negative mood and mindset that you adopt as a result of those three minutes sticks with you through your time at work and with your families.

The barrage of negative news feeds makes you feel as if your behavior doesn’t matter and so many things are beyond your control. So how can you prime yourself for higher levels of performance at work and feel better during the day without sticking your head in the sand and tuning out the news altogether?

Here’s a few simple, research-supported strategies:

Turn off news alerts

Shut off push notifications to your phone or email. These alerts pull your attention away from the present moment and can lead to decreased performance, as you are distracted from your work. Instead, seek out nonpartisan or summarized news sources like The daily Skimm or Smart Brief. Keep in mind, if there’s anything really important happening, you’ll hear about it soon enough.

Cancel the noise

In the same way you might cancel the noise on a plane using headphones, you can turn your brain into a noise-canceling machine by practicing meditation.

Or try turning off the radio for the first five minutes of your commute. When you turn the radio back on, don’t listen to angry talk radio and mute at least one set of commercials per show. It’s hard to tune into the frequency of our own lives when we’re bombarded by the noise that surrounds us.

Change the Ratio

Stop clicking on stories that are hypothetical or about tragic one-time situations that you can do nothing about. Late last year there was an entire People Magazine issue devoted to unsolved murders. Ugh. See my point?

Start your day with solution-focused news like Huffington Post’s What’s Working series. They describe it as an, “editorial initiative to double down on our coverage of what’s working. By shining a light on these stories, we hope that we can scale up these solutions and create a positive contagion. You’ve heard of copycat crimes. We want What’s Working to inspire copycat solutions.”

Check out CNN’s Impact Your World on social media for inspiring stories and how you can be part of the solution.

Filter your Facebook feed, so you see positive posts first.

Take control

If you don’t like that there’s so much negative news, don’t forget: you vote with your fingers. Every time you click on a story, you’re telling the media you want to be consuming this.

If you think nothing can be changed, learn what’s being done. We can focus on the problem, but it is equally important to move our brain on to a discussion of what we can do about it.

In one study, two groups of people read an article about a problem. One group also read five things they could do right away to help solve it. That group experienced a 20% increase in creative problem solving abilities on subsequent unrelated tasks – not to mention they felt better.

Talking about solutions breeds success.

If this sounds like the type of conversation you would like to join into, and you live in the greater Portland metropolitan area, come on over to a heartspark Connections. Consider yourself personally invited!