Mass media loves election season. During an election year, news, radio, television, and podcasts center on the buildup leading to tomorrow’s Election Day. Media often sensationalizes, and headlines and clickbait frequently draw attention from the general public. While it’s important to stay informed about politics, engaging too strongly in media coverage during this time can lead to increased feelings of anxiety, dread, depression, and hopelessness.
Before diving into a news article or podcast about the election, check in with your mental health. Are you in a place to hear this at the moment? Is this form of media going to have a positive impact or change your opinion in any way? Try to set mindful intentions surrounding your engagement with the media today, tomorrow, and in the aftermath of this election. It’s not uncommon to reach for your phone and check the latest headlines when you have five minutes between work meetings, but scrolling Twitter opens you up to distressing content that can impact your mood and well-being. Self-monitoring can help you realize when you need a break. It’s okay—and sometimes necessary—to unplug.
Social media may be especially distressing right now. Your timeline may be filled with shocking headlines and clickbait posted by friends in your network who are not being intentional about the content that they consume and post. Before getting distressed by a headline, check the source. If it’s not a reliable source, see if there is a reliable source that addresses the claim of the headline. If you have family or friends who are posting sensationalized media or using social media as a platform to spread misinformation, feel free to block or unfollow. These types of articles and opinions can negatively impact mental health.
This post is the third in a series of three.
Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.
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