Too much exposure to bad news

Turn off the news!

Too much exposure to negative news increases our feelings of distress.

People who saw more than 6 hours of media reports after the Boston Marathon bombings were experiencing more distress that individuals who were actually present at the Boston Marathon that day!

Holman and her team at University of California Irvine, found that “repeatedly engaging with trauma-related media content for several hours daily shortly after collective trauma may prolong acute stress experiences and promote substantial stress-related symptoms”.

Other studies found similar results after seeing distressing media pictures from events like the USA war with Iraq and when airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11.

There is also more distress after watching news reports on negative events than there is to watching a report of similar length about negative events that included a message about coping with problems (such as the report of a 70 year old man who received his diploma after failing to get it 6 previous times).

It is important to stay informed during a crisis, and the media can provide valuable information, mobilize action, and connect people to resources.

But repeated exposure to distressing content, seeing it over and over again, can have a negative impact on us.

How much negative news are you seeing?

Are you balancing it with messages and images of coping with life’s difficulties?


Limiting the hours of exposure to negative news,

and increasing exposure to stories of people coping with difficulties,

can decrease the stress of bad events.


For effective, practical stress management skills that enhance health and performance, check out the Stress Management & High Performance Clinic programs at

Kathy Somers, R.Kin, BCB


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