A University of Pennsylvania study finds watching just three minutes of negative news in the morning makes viewers 27% more likely to report having a bad day 6-8 hours later versus individuals consuming transformative stories of resilience, growth, possibilities, and solutions who reported having a good day 88% of the time! In this study, 110 individuals were split into two groups and given news to watch before 10 am – negative news or transformative news.
This study was just of 3 minutes of news-watching!!! How much negative news are people consuming daily right now?
Fear sells. It keeps us glued to the media channels, consuming more and more negative, fear-based stories that as a result make us more and more depressed, worried, scared, and negative. Media’s job is to sell more advertising slots and to get us to tune into their channel more and more often. How do they that? They ramp up the fear factor.
Why? Because our brain’s job is to keep us safe. Which means that our brain, our subconscious is uber-focused on threat. It’s a big job to keep us safe. The only reason you and I are here today is because our ancestors had brains attuned to fear. Those ancestors whose brains told them to go back to sleep after hearing foot-steps (paw steps), got eaten by lions, tigers, bears, dinosaurs, mammoths, oh my and we didn’t get their – “don’t worry about it” genes.
Our brains are hard-wired to tune into anything that is a threat so our brains are addicted to negative, fear-based news stories. Your brain thinks it is keeping you safe, by consuming fear-based media and sending you into a panic, but the effect is an upregulated nervous system which is wreaking havoc on your immune system.
When we are in fear, our body releases stress hormones and goes into “fight or flight” (sympathetic nervous system dominance). In a state of stress, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced and we become more susceptible to infections (bacterial, viral, parasitic, etc.). The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system by lowering the number of lymphocytes. When we are stressed, our blood is shunted away from our digestive organs and into our extremities so we can “fight or flee” which means we aren’t getting the nutrients out of our food that support our immune system (our food just gets stored as fat as another protective mechanism). You may also find that when you are stressed, you make poorer choices, immune-reducing choices like drinking, smoking, and eating sugary, refined foods.
Right now, while facing this pandemic it is essential that we are focusing on strengthening our immune systems. Ramping up our fear levels from over-existing on social media and news, is hurting our ability to fight off what we are afraid of. The expectation is that well over 50% of us will get the CoronaVirus and the vast majority of us will have no problem with it and will either be asymptomatic or will respond to this virus just like we respond to every other cold virus. It always sucks to get sick and “ain’t nobody got time for that” but the real threat right now isn’t this virus but our own mind. Our own mind, our own brain, is the real virus that is threatening our immune system right now – right now when it is most important to keep our immune systems strong.
ACTION STEP: Media Fast or Media Minimize
I know that right now there is a lot of uncertainty and worry. And while it’s beneficial to know what actions to take to protect ourselves and our loved ones, spending time watching the panic and watching statistics is only going to hurt us. If there is something you really need to know that is in the media, you can be sure that you will find out about it without even checking the news.
If you aren’t comfortable doing a media fast, than I recommend getting in control of your media consumption and minimizing it. Some easy ideas for that:
- Unfollow negative people on social media that are blowing up fear, hysteria, and in a state of criticism and panic. Consuming their fear and their criticism is only hurting your immune system.
- Start each day with positivity, not the news. Our immune systems are strengthened by laughter, by joy, and by hope. Positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress, illness, and support immune system function. Ways to get into the positive? Meditate, do a gratitude practice, send messages of love and joy to friends and family… Get out from under the thumb of the media whose goal right now is to sell more advertising slots by freaking you out.
- Connect with joy and laughter. Laughter enhances our intake of oxygen-rich air; stimulates our heart, lungs and muscles; increases the endorphins that are released by our brain; and stimulates a healthy immune response while boosting immune system resilience. What makes you laugh? What makes you giggle? Do more of that… And at minimum simply smile which sends a message to our brains that “we are okay and safe.”
- Set a timer for how long and how often you will check the news each day or week so your brain doesn’t suck you in for longer. Your brain will tell you to spend ALL DAY LONG reading about the threat. You have to be proactive in choosing ahead of consumption, how long you will give yourself. I’d recommend not checking the news in the morning which based on the study I shared is likely to increase feelings of depression for the rest of the day and not before bed so you aren’t thinking about it all night. I would suggest choosing a specific daily time, some time in the middle of the day for no longer than 15 minutes (really no more than 5 minutes would be even better).
- If you really need a news-fix, consume news that is positive and about resilience and possibility – even as it relates to the Corona Virus. Consume information about what is working and what is possible. I recommend this news-feed for uplifting news that builds resilience.
Make the choice (it is a choice), to get out of panic-mode and into the mode of resilience. So take some deep breaths from your gut (this puts our bodies into “rest and digest” mode – parasympathetic nervous system dominance), connect with your loved ones (even by phone and text), and consume something joyful today! You get to choose whether to be mired in panic or to be connected with positivity and possibility. Even in the face of the darkest challenges, we always have a choice. We get to choose our response to this challenge and how we choose, not only impacts our health but it also will impact our resilience and strength for all the future challenges that will come our way. Coronavirus is just one challenge among many that we will face in our lifetimes.
Reach out to me if you want more support – I’m happy to offer virtual coaching and energy work.
You’ve got this. Trust yourself. Stay centered. Choose love and gratitude.
What are you doing to support your immune system and to calm down your nervous system? Share in the comments so others can benefit from your ideas too…