News and other media outlets have been a constant source of negativity during the COVID-19 pandemic. News companies know bad news sells. That is why they call it “panic porn”. Humans become have become addicted to it because we have a natural fear of harm and death. Since the pandemic, more people suffer from anxiety than ever. It is no wonder with all the negative messages all around us. Many have lost jobs and social connections yet many people have no outlet for stress.
Something many people do not consider, is that the stories we are subjected to in the media, can deeply affect our mental health, the quality of our lives and may even cause indirect trauma. Because I am an art therapist, I hear an assortment of personal reports about certain anxieties and fears. Some folks’ personality naturally leans more towards being nervous and anxious. Others have had life experiences such as family issues, grief, loss, illness, abuse, and neglect, that increase their tendency to feel anxious and worried. However, one cannot help but notice that clients who regularly watched, listened to or read negative media reports or posts had increased feelings of helplessness, depression, ominous predictions, anxiety, fear, and all-round negative thoughts.
If you are a person who feels deep empathy for others, you cannot tolerate watching certain programs on television. These may be animal programs where there is a predator and its prey, people striking each other during a boxing or MMA match or those supposedly funny videos that show people hurting themselves. Whether a person is empathetic or not, the media affects our thoughts.
Stories on television can create fears that are not based on our personal experience or reality. Brene Brown spoke about when she was driving with her family after a good time, she imagined them getting into a car crash and dying. She noted that this kind of fear came from watching television that depicts a gloriously happy family. Then the other shoe drops, and they are all kidnapped or murdered. Brene’s ominous thoughts stole that moment of joy and happiness. The Media monster can also desensitize people to the real-life suffering of others, sway our views and create consumers. We can also experience vicarious trauma from other people’s stories or watching graphic newscasts.
I recommend people who are sensitive, empathic, anxious or stressed to limit their exposure to the news. Watch a trusted news source once per week if you must. Do not, I repeat do not watch the news or violence before bed. If you feel anxious and stressed, control what you are exposed to as best you can. Social media can become quite toxic and negative if allowed. Follow pages or groups on art therapy, happiness, positivity, mindfulness, and special interests. Trim the negative ones out. Television programs can be negative as well. Dig into hobbies like crafts, music, reading or yoga. Connect with friends who are okay with having a political or pandemic free talk. Beware of the media monster. It has a great influence on our mental well being.
Art therapy is an excellent tool for emotional expression, problem solving and stress relief. Art Therapy Guelph's art therapist, Heather Caruso, facilitates one on one and group art therapy. The group is a weekly art therapy anxiety support group.
Contact us for more information and to book a free get acquainted chat today. https://arttherapyguelph.com
“What we consistently feed our mind with, builds our attitude”. ~Terry Mark