The Doctors: Is Too Much Bad News Bad For Your Health?
The Doctors started the show by talking about breaking news headlines. But first, Dr. Travis Stork posed the question: is too much bad news bad for your health?
With recent news of ISIS, the Ray Rice domestic violence fiasco, and the Ebola virus, it seems like all we hear is bad news. Hearing bad news day after day can add up to a lot of stress, but can that stress make you sick?
Dr. Rachael Ross said she can attest to it, because she’ll wake up in the morning feeling great, but then all of the sudden she’ll log onto Facebook and read or see something bad, and her entire mood is ruined. Dr. Jim Sears said he even stopped turning the TV on in the morning.
The Drs TV: Better To Read Or Watch The News?
Dr. Stork asked if Dr. Ross and Dr. Sears thought it was better to watch the news or read the news. He shared that he prefers to read the news because he then at least feels like he has some control over what he’s reading and when he’s reading it, so that he doesn’t feel bombarded. He said when the news is rolling and he’s hearing bad news after bad news, the anxiety is very real.
Dr. Stork shared that a study showed that those who watched the active media on the Boston bombings had a bigger psychological toll than those who were actually at the bombing. That’s incredible. Like Dr. Sears pointed out, they showed it over and over, whereas the people that were there just experienced it once.
Dr. Ross said that studies have been done with people watching good news, bad news, or neutral news, and the people who were watching the bad news had increased symptoms of anxiety. She said we’re causing anxious systems to happen by watching all the negativity.
The Doctors: Bad News’ Toll On Body
Dr. Stork shared that one in four people cite the media as the biggest stressor in their life. So what is happening to your body?
Dr. Stork explained that when we’re hearing all these negative messages, your hypothalamus triggers your pituitary gland, which triggers your adrenal gland to release cortisol. He said your sympathetic system causes you to release adrenaline, which causes your heart rate to go up and your blood pressure to rise. It affects your breathing rate and even your digestion.
All of those things affect your body and your physiological wellbeing.
The Drs TV: How To Deal with Bad News
Dr. Stork suggested that we stay informed and continue to read the news, but read a good story for every bad one. Dr. Sears said maybe read a front page article and then go to the sports section and read about your favorite baseball team.
Dr. Stork said that he noticed how differently he processes something he sees on TV versus something he sees in real life. He said, in a way, in real life when you’re experiencing, you’re a part of it and there’s action you can take. He said with the media, there comes a feeling of helplessness that adds to the anxiety.
Dr. Sears said negative media has been an issue for kids since 9-11. He said he turns the TV off and tries to shield the kids from the negative media, especially if they’re really young. He said it’s important for parents to not assume they know what their kids are thinking. He said even if you shield them from it, they’ll hear about it elsewhere. He suggested asking your kids what they’ve heard about it, so you can correct any misconceptions or fears.
So at what age is it appropriate to let your kids see all the negative media? Dr. Sears said maybe age 7 or 8 would be the appropriate age to allow your kids to stay up to date on current events. Dr. Stork said you can always take a negative and turn it into a positive, which is a great technique to use for kids.