By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
September 24, 2021
This year has been a wall-to-wall diet of bad news. We barely have time to process one event before the next one hits. And the news media is full of every negative outcome possible. They’re just itching to keep you riled up. Social media is even worse.
We started the year with political unrest while in full pandemic mode. Just when it seemed like things were starting to get back to normal, the Delta variant hit with a vengeance.
Then there are the heatwaves that have been plaguing the U.S. since June. They’re unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. According to the NOAA, July of this year was the hottest month reported since they started keeping records. That was 142 years ago.
This extreme heat, along with drought conditions, have sparked raging wildfires in the western states. These blazes have led to evacuations, destroyed homes and buildings and have ravaged millions of acres of land.
Of course, there’s the situation in Afghanistan, which had the entire country on edge. And on August 29 the deep south was slammed by hurricane Ida, which continued on a path of destruction all the way up to New York City.
All of these events are just terrible.
But do you really need to hear about them 24/7/365?
Don’t Fall Down the Rabbit Hole
When I was growing up, Walter Cronkite was known as the “most trusted man in America”. That’s how unbiased and trustworthy his reporting was. You don’t see that anymore.
In those days we didn’t have access to full-time news. Just the daily newspaper and the evening news – which was nothing like it is these days. It was generally a half hour segment that aired around 6:00 or 6:30 in the evening. So our news exposure consisted of a half hour of balanced news on the TV, and however long it took to read the newspaper each day.
Today there is so much news available to you – biased, sensationalistic and sometimes just flat-out wrong – that it’s easy to find yourself continually scrolling through bad news. It’s called “doomscrolling”, or “doomsurfing”. It’s like falling down a rabbit hole full of bad news that you can’t seem to drag yourself out of it.
But you have to dig yourself out of the doomsurfing cycle. Because the more terrible things you read about, the more bad things you worry about. And you just get stressed out!
A perfect example of this is the Boston Marathon bombings. People who watched more than six hours of coverage on the event in the following days were nine times more likely to experience high acute stress levels compared to people who only watched a little bit of the news coverage. They were even more stressed out than people who had direct exposure to the bombings!
Now, this acute stress activates the autonomic nervous system. Cortisol levels, adrenaline and other hormones rise. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase. If it becomes chronic – which could easily happen if you’re glued to non-stop emotionally negative news – this response is constantly triggered. And it’s horrible for your body.
Not only does it turn you into a worry-wart. It causes inflammation. It’s linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, depression and mental illness. And that’s the short list.
Let’s Break the Cycle
We all want to know what’s going on in the country and around the world. But we don’t need 24-hour commentary, speculation, opinion and rhetoric designed to create fear.
So the first thing I recommend is limiting news time. The evening news, from an unbiased, fact-based news source, is your best option. I’ve taken to watching BBC news on PBS; just news reporting without the flashiness and fear prevalent in network (any network) news shows. But if you can’t resist checking on events during the day, set limits. Maybe 15-minutes to a half hour of surfing or scrolling in the morning and after dinner.
Keep it to a level that’s just enough to keep you informed. The less time you spend on it, the easier it is to break your doomsurfing habit. Plus, you’ll have more time to do other things.
Read a book. Visit friends and talk about anything BUT the news. Take a soothing nature walk. Sign up for yoga. Do some slow deep mindful breathing exercises to decrease stress cortisol levels naturally. These are all mind-expanding activities that take your mind off your worries and help relieve stress.
If you feel you need a little extra help lowering your anxiety levels, I recommend taking a combination of rhodiola rosea and ashwagandha.
Just 185 mg of rhodiola daily decreases cortisol levels, increases mental performance and helps improve concentration. Ashwagandha is even more powerful. It can cut anxiety by more than half, slash stress levels as much as 44% and reduce cortisol levels by almost a third.
This is a potent combination when it comes to gaining control of your stress and anxiety levels. And when you combine them with curcumin like that found in Curcumin Total Vitality, it can help switch off the inflammatory response associated with chronic stress.
Don’t fall down the Rabbit Hole! Remember, you can take control of your stress levels, beginning with simply tuning elsewhere or limiting network news shows or social media platforms that are formulated to increase viewership (and commercial sales) via fear based anger based opinion pieces.
Holman EA, Garfin DR, Silver RC. Media’s role in broadcasting acute stress following the Boston Marathon bombings. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jan 7;111(1):93-8.
Mariotti A. The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain-body communication. Future Sci OA. 2015;1(3):FSO23.
Olsson EM, von Schéele B, Panossian AG. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Med. 2009 Feb;75(2):105-12.
Pratte MA, Nanavati KB, Young V, Morley CP. An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Dec;20(12):901-8.