A news fast simply means opting out of watching the news on television, listening to it on the radio, reading newspapers, or following the news on the Internet for a few days or even a week at a time. I believe that taking periodic breaks from the news can promote mental calm and help renew your spirits. In this way, the anxiety and overstimulation catalyzed by the media may be minimized, and your body will function better.
A number of studies have shown that images and reports of violence, death and disaster can promote undesirable changes in mood and aggravate anxiety, sadness and depression, which in turn can have deleterious effects on physical health. Even frequent worrying can reduce immunity, making you more vulnerable to infection.
In suggesting periodic news fasts, I’m not advocating that you become uninformed about the state of the world. But in addition to the recommendations I make about how to nourish your body, I think it’s important to become aware of what we put into our consciousness as well. Many people do not exercise much control over that and as a result take in a lot of “mental junk food.”
–Dr. Andrew Weil
With all of the concern about today’s children’s “screen time,” there is little guidance for adults. The Internet has a “shock and awe” method to conquer our attention spans, and and as we ricochet down to the bottom of human beastliness (click, click, click) or simply lose half an hour trolling for something satisfying yet never quite getting there, we are unconsciously buying into the negative “frames of reference” that the popular media sites present to us. Suddenly feel like women should be punished for not looking up to par? Or feeling a little numb when watching yet another (yawn) beheading? It’s time to switch off the phone, the computer, and the television and connect with a human, a dog, a cat, or a tree. After all, is the breaking news really that important?