How Political and Societal News Can Affect Your Moods

It’s no wonder that your moods feel unpredictable these days.

Mainstream media, social media, and the internet, in general, have combined to keep us surgically attached to our devices. So much so, that we equate news updates with our wellbeing.

Being in the loop is, in and of itself, its own reward… or so we think.

Held captive by the pandemic, social unrest, and all of the ensuing fallout, today’s political and societal news can affect your mood in a negative way. Linked heavily to our screen, the non-stop notifications, tantalizing clickbait articles, hyper-believable faked videos, and alluring updates from local and global sources play on our emotions.

It’s important that we pay attention to how being fed such information informs and changes how we see the world and how we feel about ourselves and others. Managing the impact on our moods depends on such awareness.

Political and Societal News in 2020

It is not melodramatic nor an understatement to declare 2020 to be unlike any time in recent history. We are collectively juggling the impact of:

  • Deadly global pandemic
  • A patchwork response to the pandemic
  • Economic crisis
  • Civil unrest
  • Racial strife
  • Natural disasters from wildfires to hurricanes
  • A contentious presidential election

While all this — and more — transpires, we turn more and more to our phones to inform us. This honest, logical desire, though, is simultaneously sabotaged by the same elements listed above. How could this not impact our mental health in a major way?

How Political and Societal News Can Affect Your Moods

That device in your pocket can connect you with loved ones, help you make money, and keep you apprised of important news. This is not about going back to the Dark Ages. But we can’t afford to be naive about the purposes of technology. Massive corporations are competing for our attention. As a result, the internet has become a minefield of emotional lures and traps. This is particularly true for social media.

As a former social media executive recently explained: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works.”

Translation: The headlines and social media are consciously designed to reel us in — and keep us hooked. The goal isn’t community or wellbeing. As with all companies, the aim is profit. As a result, we wind up paying a high price by being caught in the middle. The following physical and emotional toll can be intense:

Psychological Stress

Relentless news reports can change how your brain perceives and responds to danger. In an actual crisis, your sympathetic nervous system should respond as it designed to do so. The 365/24/7 news cycle makes us feel like we live in a perpetual crisis. Our flight-or-flight gets stuck in the “on” position and alters our moods, perceptions, and behaviors.

Physical Symptoms

The stress cycle just described takes a toll on your body, too. You may experience symptoms that seem unexplained and unconnected. For example:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Digestive issues
  • Muscle aches, pains, and tension
  • Low libido
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Weakened immune system

These symptoms, in turn, have their own adverse influence on your moods. As you struggle with emotional stress, you may become anxious or depressed because now, your body is suffering, too. This creates a confusing cycle of its own.

Some Habits Are Very Tough to Break

As touched on above, modern technology is deliberately designed to keep us hooked and reactive. Thus, it can be very challenging for you to a) recognize the deleterious effects and/or b) moderate usage. This is when it makes a whole lot of sense to consult a mental health professional. Your therapist can serve as a guide during these challenging times.

We all have our hands full. Modulating our news consumption may be more than anyone can handle right now. Weekly counseling sessions — in-person or via video chat — could be just what you need to break a negative habit. Please read more about moods and depression treatment to learn how I can help. When you’re ready, I’m available. Please contact me for a consultation soon.

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