News induced angst

I used to feel anxious in the mornings – a mild existential dread that got steadily worse for the first hour of the day. Upon reflection of the possible causes I narrowed it down to too much morning news.

I woke to news bulletins from my radio alarm. I checked news apps on my phone in bed. I had toast whilst listening to more radio news and reading news websites on my laptop, and become infuriated by readers’ comments. I was accompanied on my drive to work by ill-informed radio phone-in contributors and reports about car crashes and traffic jams.

By the time I got to Lerwick I’d be feeling pretty crabbit with a head full of worrying and often irrelevant information that I didn’t have time to process. It was just gloomy mind spam.

So I decided to cut news out from my mornings and the results were immensely positive. The house was filled with serene silence that gave me time to get my head together and look forward to the day ahead. The commute was rich with orchestral music, and externally induced angst was replaced by contemplative contentment.

The dismal news I’d been starting my days with was fundamentally discordant with the realities of my otherwise very pleasant mornings. I’d been missing out on enjoying breakfast because of Brexit vexations, and I wasn’t cheerfully tooting to courteous motorists at passing places because I was busy swearing at politicians.

I’m not advocating that people live in ignorance of current affairs but most mainstream news is framed negatively and about subjects we can do little to influence. This can lead to feelings of disempowerment, pessimism and desensitisation. Not a good way to start the day.

I now entirely avoid TV and radio news bulletins and social media feeds. They’re usually just condensed streams of attention-grabbing nuggets with little background or context.

I leave news to evenings and weekends when I can take my own time to properly engage with stories from a range local and international sources, and I balance the inevitable negativity with positive articles and solution focussed constructive journalism.

I also rediscovered the absorbing satisfaction of actual paper Sunday newspapers. They have reclaimed their rightful position as a highlight of my week #oldman

Published in Shetland Life magazine in May 2018