Bipolar disorder can make it hard to maintain stability of moods, and deal with the stresses of life. The news and social media are one of the biggest sources of stress that can make stability challenging, and the media overload only seems to be getting worse. In a 2014 study conducted by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, participants were asked about the sources of stress in their lives, and news and social media were among the most often mentioned.
People who watch or listen to several hours of newscasts per day are more likely to fear the types of violence and disaster that they see portrayed, even if these are actually rare events. Exposure to television and internet news makes us fear what we see on screen. Moodsurfing has explored this issue in depth, finding studies that have shown that, in some cases, people who watch repeated news reports of a traumatic event may have worse symptoms of trauma than those actually present at the event. Psychological effects of media violence are of great concern to researchers, who find them surprisingly strong.
Social and political life is also becoming more polarized, with more people more frequently involved in arguments that do not persuade anyone to change their point of view. These highly emotional interactions can be especially challenging for people with bipolar and other mood disorders.
We encourage readers of Moodsurfing to take a few steps back from media overload and fraught political debates. Develop a habit of responding with a calming statement like “that’s a really important point, but I can’t discuss it now” or “let’s take a rain check on this conversation until we cool down a bit”.
Utilize “Mindful Speech” as recommended by Rick Hanson, and check out the Moodsurfing post “Lower the Pressure” for some more great suggestions from Hanson.
Consider using more mindfulness and meditation practices, these are especially useful in situations of media or political overload. Focus on the body and breathing until they both become calmer. Focus on the world outside the window, where life is going on at its usual peaceful pace.