For many people, the media you watch online or on television is how you stay connected to what is going on in the world. These outlets can be valuable tools for connecting with others and staying on top of helpful information.
That being said, social media and news outlets are not always beneficial. For many people, social media or news can negatively affect their minds and darken their moods. People going through difficult times, especially during treatment for substance use, may benefit from taking a break from these outlets.
Downsides of the News
The news can sometimes be positive but is usually filled with many negative elements as well. Research has found that for every positive story shared, there were 17 negative stories. This occurs because it is more likely that people will pay attention to something negative than positive, either out of fear or curiosity. People also tend to react to bad news faster and remember it easier. Negative news has been known to cause the following effects:
- Increased stress hormones in the body
- Increased depressive symptoms, loneliness, and hopelessness
- Creating feelings of anxiety that last beyond the news program
- Triggering PTSD symptoms
- Making people feel more threatened by those around them
In the article “The Burden of Stress in America,” published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2,500 American adults were asked about the causes of their stress. Forty percent of these adults stated that reading or watching the news contributed to their stress.
When you go through treatment for substance use, the risks can be greater than the rewards. When in treatment, it can be valuable to take a break from the news and focus on yourself and the feelings that affect your personal life. Doing so can give you the best chances of success.
Social Media During Treatment
Social media can be a valuable tool for connecting with others and keeping in touch with friends and family. However, when in treatment, social media may contribute to negative emotions.
If you are receiving treatment and trying to recover, it may be hard to see your loved ones going about their lives and posting things you wish you were doing at the time. Receiving treatment is a critical step; however, being away from loved ones can be difficult. Social media may contribute to that feeling.
Social media may also cause problems because it can cause cravings. For example, if you have a drinking problem and see people drinking on social media or on advertisements, it may cause cravings. This, combined with the fact that there is also negative news on social media, can contribute to difficult emotions.
Benefits of a Media Break
Taking a temporary break from media can have many benefits, especially if you feel like you are making a bad habit of using it too much. Many people use media as a distraction, and companies specifically design it to grab your attention. Headlines, intense or funny videos, and striking pictures pop out at you. There is always more to find. Social media can be a bottomless pit your attention gets pulled into.
Taking a break can free up your thoughts and minds to focus on what is most important, allowing you to reconnect with your body and surroundings. This is extremely important during treatment and recovery when your body and mind are going through significant changes.
Reading a negative news story or post can bring your mood down. Since there is always bad news being circulated by media companies, it has a good chance of bringing you down.
Taking a break from using media can put your minds back into your own hands. Rather than being influenced by outside sources, you can now have more direct control over the things that affect your mood. Taking a break from social media also lets you connect more with the people in your immediate vicinity rather than people far away.
Since social media can effectively grab our attention, meaning taking a break from it can be difficult for some people, especially when it becomes habitual. If you are in treatment and you feel like taking a break from social media may prove too stressful, there are some actions you can take.
A good idea may be to limit your usage to 30 minutes per day. Some apps can track this usage, such as Forest, which can help limit time spent on social media and keep you focused.
When returning to social media after your break, you may want to reassess how media impacts your life. If you follow accounts or news outlets you feel are bringing you down more than helping you, you may want to get rid of them.
Try to focus on what is the most valuable to helping you achieve your goals and become the person you want to be. That includes hearing some bad news at times, but nobody benefits from being overwhelmed by it. It may even be beneficial to take periodic breaks from the media to optimize your mental health.
The media we consume can have a significant impact on you, more than most people realize. It may be beneficial for you to take a step back and assess this aspect of life, especially if you are going through treatment. Always keep in mind that it will be there when you return, and it’s best to focus on your recovery when going through treatment. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we have designed our facilities and programs to ensure that our patients feel at home and have activities to participate in. Located in beautiful southern California, our facilities are comfortable and relaxing. Our staff members offer programs that take each unique patient’s needs into account to keep them engaged. Some activities include art and music therapy, yoga, hiking, equine therapy, and group therapy, among others. Call us today at (866) 338-6925 to learn more about how we can help you in your recovery journey.