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Do You Have to Watch the News?

When you are trying to get sober or stay sober, stress and anxiety are not your friends. They are, in fact, the most common triggers of cravings. Generally, the immediate danger is in your daily life. Stress at work, arguments with your spouse, accidents, loss of loved ones, or just accumulation of minor annoyances that make up a bad day can make you think about relief in the form of drugs or alcohol.

While the big things can put you over the edge, the smaller things matter too. If you carry a high baseline of stress and anxiety, small problems will seem much bigger. Few daily habits increase your baseline anxiety like following the news. Unless there is some specific reason you have to follow the news, you might be better off ignoring it for a while. Here’s why.

Bad news gets all the coverage.

Plenty of nice things happen every day, but few of them are covered in the papers. Even responsible news organizations prefer to cover stories of violence and chaos. As long as you’re scared, you will keep reading. The problem is that the news makes you believe the world is more threatening than it really is. Studies have shown that people who watch violent movies and television shows don’t necessarily become more violent themselves, but they do become more likely to interpret innocuous situations as threatening. And that’s from watching violence everyone knows is fake; how much stronger is the effect of seeing violence in the news every day? The belief that the world is a dangerous place makes you more anxious and that’s the last thing you need in recovery.

You can’t do much about the news.

Reading about all the terrible things going on in the world every day is an exercise in learned helplessness. What can you do, personally, about Boko Haram, for example? Probably not much. It’s not good for your state of mind to continually expose yourself to problems you can’t do anything about. It’s much better for your recovery if you focus instead on what you can do right now to improve your life.

Most news is now consumed on devices.

There’s nothing wrong with reading news on devices, per se, but most people get their news through social media platforms that are designed to be as addictive as possible. Spending more time on platforms like Facebook has also been shown to correlate with higher levels of depression. Not only is the news unsettling, but the platform is both addictive and depressing. You can probably find a better use for your time.

Castle Craig Hospital is a landmark of addiction and mental health treatment in Scotland, serving the UK, the EU, and patients from all over the world. Our commitment to long term abstinence has created a successful program of clinical and complementary therapies for mind, body, and spirit. Serving over 10,000 patients for more than 25 years, the Castle Craig model is proven in changing lives. Call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line for information: 0808 231 7723. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006