Are You Addicted To The News?
An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 11, Number 2
This month is National Heart Month. Along with Valentine’s Day, February calls attention to heart disease and heart care. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women, the American Heart Association encourages you to live a heart healthy lifestyle. Behavior changes you can make that will improve your heart health include daily exercise, healthy eating, getting a medical checkup, and stopping smoking. We think that hearts are important not only on Valentine’s Day but every day.
This month’s E-Letter focuses on Are you Addicted to the News? The bulleted information can be downloaded from our E-Letters page on our website. Our email of the month is about the importance of teachers and our Ask the Doc question is living in fear. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We also thank you for reading our E-Letters and for the many comments we have received through our over 10 years of E-Letters.
Boys To Men. On January 30, Dr. Joel Kimmel presented a seminar on the transition from childhood to adolescence for pre-teen boys and their fathers at Temple Beth Emet. Conducting a discussion and using videos from popular songs, fathers were educated about what to expect as their sons mature with an emphasis upon the importance of setting boundaries. After this discussion, their sons were met with. Using videos from popular movies, the boys were taught about the importance of fathers and how to accept no as an answer.
Job Opening. We are currently looking for a licensed mental health professional with at least 2 years of experience to affiliate with our practice. This is a terrific opportunity for an individual practitioner to join our well established practice and develop their own caseload. Preference will be given to those who have experience treating children. If you are interested or want more information, please email DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com.
Depression groups. Our ongoing weekly depression therapy groups meet regularly in our office. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. A third and fourth group will be starting soon. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Eating Disorders Support Group. We are developing a support group for women ages 18-30 who are in recovery from an eating disorder. This group will work in conjunction with the patient’s treatment team to strengthen their recovery. The group will be led by Dr. Terry Newell and if you are interested in participating, please call Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Afterschool Tutoring. We are pleased to announce that we will be offering tutoring for students in grades 1 through 8 after school in our offices. Jill Kimmel, an experienced educator, will be helping students to understand and learn their academic concepts as well as provide assistance in doing homework. To find out more about our tutoring services as well as to schedule an appointment, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found at the E-Letters page on our website, www.KimmelPsychology.com. We invite you to read and download them if desired.
ARE YOU ADDICTED TO THE NEWS?
Our E-Letter this month focuses on news and the effects it has upon our lives. We are constantly bombarded with news bites as well as by news shows, headlines in texts, pop-ups on our computer, radio shows, and social media. It is very, very difficult to escape these news reports yet most of them don’t really affect us. The news is basically anxiety producing, depressing, mostly useless as it generally has no effect on our lives, and repetitive. However, we become news junkies. Most news shows are designed to create worry and generally offer no solutions so we get hooked waiting for an answer or a good outcome. We tend to crave news because without it, we feel empty and anxious.
What does the news tell us? Usually, it’s about some terror incident, some political mistake, some unfair governmental action, a new strain of some illness, some innocent people being wronged, some non-innocent people being wronged, and other issues to worry about. Unlike the past, news reports today are not unbiased or fairly reported. Rather, news shows are meant to promote other shows on their network, to sell advertising, to elevate unimportant people into stardom, to present talking heads as experts who give their opinion but are often wrong, and to entertain. These news shows are designed to tell you how to think rather than encourage you to form your own opinions. A number of news shows present their staff as a family in which you would like to belong. The news sets and themes can become very welcoming as long as you agree with their messages and buy the products they are selling.
So how does this become an addiction? When the quest for news controls you rather than you controlling it is the answer. How does this manifest? When you find yourself looking forward to watching a news show, when you check your phone often to get the news or headlines, when you feel upset when you can’t find out what happened in the latest incident, and when you stop communication with others to watch the news are all signs of a news addiction. News addicts also feel an emptiness when they are unable to get the news. They find themselves making poor judgments and experience cravings when they go through news withdrawal. Research has also shown that watching too much coverage of traumatic events can lead to feelings of depression, isolation, and stress. Ironically, people who constantly watch the news think they are more engaged in real life yet. in reality, most news shows don’t report what we actually experience on a daily basis. Almost all the news we hear is irrelevant to our daily lives. Our perspective on our lives is being changed by what the news tells us and we tend to think less critically.
It is important also to understand that most news shows don’t give complete reports or offer solutions. Rather, they leave situations and questions unanswered so that you will tune in later to try to get an answer. Notice that if you are watching a show and during a commercial, there is a news promo. The newscaster will leave you with a question that you have to tune in later to find the answer. This is hooking you into a need to know the news event and what happened. You then become available to be sold on more network shows, lines of thinking, or commercial products. News addiction can change your thinking, your emotions, and your relationships without you even knowing.
So what can you do? Consider going on a “news fast” where you stop watching the news altogether for a specific period of time and see how you respond. Perhaps, you may want to go “cold turkey” and cut off all or as many sources of news input as you can. Limit your news watching to a set amount of time every day. Remove yourself from news subscriptions and social media where you get news reports. Consider whether the news you hear is really important to you. Observe your emotions after a news report and see if you are affected by what you see and hear. Practice critical thinking and have discussions with others. Do not withdraw; spend time with friends and engage in other activities such as a hobby, a book club, or going to the movies. Exercise or at least walk frequently. Learn something new each day for intellectual stimulation. Develop a support system of others whom you can talk to about your feelings. Finally, question the news you see and hear as to what is the purpose and does it really affect your life?
We offer the following information on Are you Addicted to the News? (You can download this handout from our E-Letter page on our website.)
ARE YOU ADDICTED TO THE NEWS?
We got the bubble headed bleached blonde comes on at five,
She can tell you ‘bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye.
It’s interesting when people die. Give us dirty laundry
WHAT TO KNOW!
- With the increase in channels/sources, addiction to the news has become widespread
- News channels are much different from the past where emphasis was on objective, unbiased reporting; today news reporting is for entertainment, to support other network shows, to promote advertising, and to increase anxiety so that you will tune in for more
- Research has shown that watching too much news coverage of traumatic events can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and stress
- People who constantly follow the news tend to be less engaged in real life and more engaged in events that do not affect them or will pass quickly with time
- Some people believe that news is to the mind as sugar is to the body; it is taken in small quantities, it does not reach saturation, it is digested easily and quickly, it does not require thinking, it usually does not affect our lives and it creates a craving for more
- News becomes addictive when
- it starts to take over control of your life
- you feel an emptiness when you don’t know what is going on
- when watching the news becomes more important than enjoying your life
- when you feel a craving to know what is going on
- when news reporting affects your judgment
- when too much news makes you feel depressed
- when you don’t want to watch the news but just have to
- News addiction is a form of distraction where you learn to think that what is reported is important but in reality you are becoming disengaged from the activities around you
- News channels tend to promote what and who they think are important but are really not
- News stories tend to distort reality; they only report snippets or small pieces of news that may be wrong and are designed to make you come back for more
- In the search for entertainment, news channels often report sensational and adversarial events to get you to watch their stations
- News reports are everywhere and easy to get; on our televisions, computers, cell phones, magazines, and other electronic devices
- News shows often contain panels of experts to make sure you get their views, even though they are often wrong, rather than encourage you to develop your own thoughts
- Limit your news input and schedule a specific amount of time each day to get your news
- Consider whether the news is really that important to you; does it really affect your life?
- Become aware of your mood and thoughts after watching a news program
- Try a “news fast” or going cold turkey to remove yourself from all sources of news input
- Spend time with friends, exercise, engage in a hobby, increase your support system
- Remove yourself from social media that bombards you with news stories
- Occupy your news time with reading, playing a game, watching a movie, or walking
- Seek professional help if you have difficulty giving up the news, feel an emptiness, or find your moods affected by watching the news
WHAT TO DO!
WE CAN HELP!
Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at email@example.com
Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates 5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101 Coral Springs, Florida 33067
Copyright © 2016; by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.
As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.
Ask The Doc
S.R. writes: I am very fearful of traveling. With all the news reports about crime and terrorism, is it safe to go anywhere? It seems like some attack is imminent and I don’t feel secure anywhere. Yet I am bored at home and angry that I am stuck at home. What advice do you have for me?
Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: Yes it certainly seems like the world has become a very dangerous place. Some of that is true and some of that is just anxiety created by the media, politicians, and others. Yes, there are violent and dangerous events happening all over the world. Yet these are high intensity, low frequency events meaning that they don’t happen often but when they do, they are quite shocking. This is one of the purposes of terrorism—to disable you by scaring you into a state of fear. These events get news coverage and are played and replayed over and over so that one feels very vulnerable.
If you allow yourself to live in a state of fear, then terrorists have achieved their goal. If you allow yourself to believe the threats of politicians and governments, then you give up and become compliant. If you restrict yourself from travel and other normally enjoyable activities, then you are giving up control over your own life. If you feel powerless, it is because you are giving in to fear.
So if you want to travel, I suggest that you travel to generally safe areas and be cautious. Consult government websites to see if there are any travel advisories. Do not travel to war zones and use good judgment wherever you travel. Be aware of your surroundings and who is around you. This is important not only for terror incidents but also to prevent theft and pick pocketing. I would also suggest that you curtail your news input and remember that people actually live and go on with their daily lives where you want to travel. Finally, I suggest that you reduce your anxiety by deep breathing, meditation, exercise, and having a support system. Assert your right to live as you want and to travel but be aware and travel smartly.
Email of the Month
We thank Karen W. for the following email:
Who Is A School Teacher?
The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued,
“What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”
To stress his point he said to another guest;
“You’re a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?”
Teacher Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied,
“You want to know what I make?
(She paused for a second, and then began)
“Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor winner.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 min. without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.
You want to know what I make?
(She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table)
I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them how to write and then I make them write.
Keyboarding isn’t everything.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math.
They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life
(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)
Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything,
I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant.
You want to know what I make?
I make a difference in all your lives, educating kids and preparing them to become CEO’s, Doctors and Engineers.
What do you make Mr. CEO?
His jaw dropped; he went silent.
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If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2016 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.