Information overload is part of our digital reality — and the tenor of the news we consume reflects today’s reality. When we’re experiencing global health and environmental crises and political friction in some of the world’s most politically and culturally influential countries, negative stories seem to be hitting us from every angle whether we actively seek it or not
As PR professionals, we consume news around the clock to ensure we’re up to date on what’s happening within our communities and around the world. But how does this information overload impact our mental health? Our biases? Our ability to disconnect?
Experts claim the mental health consequences of information overload may be “quite significant” and can impact you beyond those first few moments of feeling overwhelmed. It can lead to feelings of powerlessness or give us anxiety and mental fatigue. It can also contribute to cognitive issues such as difficulty making decisions or making them too hastily (and often badly).
But the reality is that we need the news. It informs us on the issues that matter and connects us to the world we live in.
It can be challenging to balance our need to be informed with the ability to successfully make it through the news cycle without imploding. So how can we avoid bad-news burnout in a media-focused profession?
Schedule a time to step away. Many people spend their day looking at their computer or phone screen, so its almost impossible to avoid the news during typical work hours. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries for yourself. Do your best to fully unplug for a few hours a day — from news, social media, everything.
Share meaningful stories. As PR professionals, we strive to share important stories for our clients while staying conscious of how the news is relevant to Canadians. From helping the Daily Bread Food Bank raise awareness around hunger in Canada, to announcing Starbucks sustainability commitments, we’re focused on giving Canadians information that will inspire and make an impact. If those type of stories don’t currently exist in your clients’ plans, be bold and bring forward new ideas. It’s our job to identify meaningful news angles on behalf of our clients, but let’s challenge ourselves to take it a step further. If you think there’s a way your client can have a real impact on the hardships Canadians are currently facing, tell them, and help start impactful change.
Be cautious about where you get your facts. Social media can be a great source of information, but it’s easy to fall victim to fake news. We’re proud to have partnered with The Canadian Journalism Foundation on its Doubt It? campaign, which provides skills and tools to help Canadians combat fake news and misinformation. Always check your sources — and remember: memes aren’t news.
Avoid doomscrolling before bed. While our job is to stay up to date on news, it’s important to try to limit time spent consuming the news after hours. There is nothing worse than doomscrolling before bed as it elevates anxiety levels, impacting quality of sleep and subsequently your mental health.
Find the good. Every day there are positive news stories — and while they don’t always make the front-page headlines, when found they can provide that much-needed dose of faith in humanity. In Media Profile’s daily COVID-19 newsletter, we have a section dedicated to Good News stories. They highlight how Canadians are helping each other in times of need and contributing to the greater good. Exactly the type of content we all need more of.
(Psst: looking for intel when it comes to COVID-19, brand, and social media updates, and yes, that good news? Reach out to us and subscribe to our daily COVID-19 updates.)