Skip to Main Content

Creating a balanced news diet

It’s easy to get hooked on the news when scary and unpredictable things are happening in the world. We naturally want to understand what’s going on in the world around us. But we can get too hooked on the news. When we hear the same stories over and over, we’re not learning any new information. That’s a sign; especially if watching the news is make our mood worse and distracting us from important things that need our attention.

Below, we share a simple 4-step approach for getting the news we need while making sure the news doesn’t hurt our mood, balancing staying informed with staying healthy

Four-step approach

  1. Pick one or two trusted news sources. We recommend picking one or two trusted news sources for getting all your news. Consider picking a trusted national news outlet and a trusted local news outlet. This way, you can stay informed about what’s happening across the world, as well as close to home. This will help you avoid spending time surfing the internet for random news and also reduces the risk of coming across unreliable or click-bait news.
  2. Schedule a specific time of day for reading the news. We recommend at most two 30-minute time slots per day. While you will want to schedule a time that fits with your personal and work responsibilities, try to make sure you don’t schedule the time first thing in the morning or as the last thing before you go to bed. Getting stressful information early in the morning can put you in a bad mood for the rest of your day, while stressful information before bed can send your mind racing and make it harder to fall asleep.
  3. Check in with yourself after your scheduled news time. This can help you decide if the information you're learning form the news is useful or if it's hurting your mood. If the news is not useful or making your mood worse, reduce the amount of time you spend with the news. Check in after your scheduled news fix is over, and ask yourself the following questions
    1. How much new information did I get from the news? 
    2. Did I learn anything that directly impacts my life right now? 
    3. Is my mood better, worse, or no different than it was before I got the news? 
  4. Redirect your attention. After you’re finished checking in with yourself, it’s time to leave the news behind by engaging in an activity that requires your full attention. These activities include exercise, talking to a friend or family member, putting on a TV show or movie you like, or working on items on your Engaging Activities list.

On your own: Make an Engaging Activities list

What if watching or reading the news gets me all worked up?

It’s common to feel stressed after receiving news about something like an election, natural disaster or economic slump. When we’re tense, focusing on something other than our worry can be a challenge. That’s why we suggest having a go-to list of engaging activities that absorb your attention. If the activity you selected isn’t working to get your mind off the news, keep trying new activities until you find one that works.

When the news hurts your mood, you also should consider practicing a meditation exercise to help bring your attention to the present moment. Research has shown that meditation exercises can reduce our tension and anxiety and train our brains to more easily shift our focus away from distressing thoughts.

STAND Tip: How to get present

We encourage you to try the 4-step process to manage how much you spend with the news and observe how the news affects you. By following the approach, we can stay informed and emotionally healthy.

Downloadable resources to use on your own

Information Sheet

4 Steps to a Balanced News Diet

Pre-Work List

Engaging Activities

How-to Guides

Mindfulness Exercise