Is "Media Mind" Harming Your Health?

Susan Irby, CFH, CFNS

"Media mind" is a state of mind that occurs when our brains are constantly and consistently inundated with major life events, even if those events are not directly connected to our lives.

Watching the news on any given day, at any given moment, floods our minds with images of tragedy and destruction at every turn. Whether a shooting that involves police, war and attacks overseas, flooding, hurricanes or something as basic as a dispute between neighbors in a local community, intense content bombards us every single day and from multiple angles.

"Media mind" can result from watching more than just television news. Opinion shows about current events hosted by journalists, politicians or comedians, tabloid and talk shows can add layer upon layer of reinforcement. Unbeknownst to the TV viewer, it can manifest itself as depression, fear, anxiety, and even anger, negatively impacting our health and quality of life. Even at low levels, it can have a tremendous influence on our health by subconsciously creating a continual state of underlying stress.

"Media Mind" and Your Health

How do stress, depression, fear, anxiety, and anger impact our health? Here are a few ways:

1. Weakened immune system — A weak immune system opens the door for all kinds of disease from the common cold to chronic health conditions like cancer. To BOOST the immune system, consider adding these foods to your daily diet: kiwi, grapefruit, raspberries, blackberries, and camu berry all of which are high in vitamin C yet low in sugar; goji berries which are high in immune-boosting phytochemicals and have long been touted in Chinese medicine for their positive impact on the immune system; oysters and pumpkin seeds, both high in zinc.

2. Elevated blood pressure — When you are constantly bombarded by negative life events, your blood pressure can rise and place extra strain on your heart. To LOWER or stabilize blood pressure, consider adding celery to your diet regularly, as many as six stalks per day. Drink green or black tea and add a couple of drops of reishi mushroom extract, which is known to regulate blood pressure. Add beets in the form of a daily smoothie for breakfast or as a snack (smoothie recipe here). Drop the added salt. Finally, practice meditative exercises such as yoga, tai chi, and Qigong.

3. Feeling at a loss of purpose in your life — Depression is real and it can creep up silently in many forms including feeling tired, lethargic, and anti-social. Foods that help elevate mood and alleviate depression include black truffles (yum!), black sesame seeds, fresh mint, fava beans, and cacao nibs. Direct sunlight and exercise can also help improve symptoms of depression. Schedule outdoor walks, hikes or biking excursions with friends.

4. Interrupted sleep patterns — Have trouble sleeping at night? Irregular sleep patterns can result in the body holding on to belly fat and a slowed brain response. Fresh cherries are natural sleep promoters, as are walnuts; eat them one hour before bedtime. Avoid consuming caffeine after 11 a.m. Avoid eating heavy meals for dinner, and finish eating at least three hours before bedtime. Whenever possible, soak your feet in warm water for about 10 minutes before bedtime.

5. Interference with digestion — When we hold on to stress, our muscles tighten, our jaws tighten, our teeth are often clenched, and such tension can disrupt our digestive flow. Release tension through meditation and soothing exercise, but also promote good gut bacteria by drinking a probiotic each morning — before water or coffee. Add cloves to your tea or sprinkle ground cloves in meals. Avoid raw foods and, instead, lightly steam vegetables such as eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini. Stew apples, and add fresh avocado and poached, steamed or broiled salmon to your diet. Practice meditation in the morning and evening.

6. Cravings — Underlying stress and anxiety can cause cravings for high-sugar, salty, and fatty foods. Implementing the foods and practices mentioned here will help alleviate and prevent cravings. When cravings do arise, drink a glass of water first. Often, our bodies are dehydrated and this will allow the craving to pass.

How to Manage "Media Mind"

Begin your day with meditation and a brisk walk — not the morning news. Limit news time to once per day, preferably mid-day when the mind is active and there are activities to help distract from its negative impact. Limit the number of opinion, talk, and tabloid shows watched. Limit TV, in general. Focus on shows that provide laughter and uplifting content

Practice spiritual connection daily — whether through prayer, meditation, reading inspirational messages and books or nature walks. Make calming your inner self a part of your morning and evening routine.

Turn your cell phone’s ringer off, and turn the phone over so you can’t see or hear who is messaging you. Avoid the urge to check your cell phone’s news updates every few minutes. Practice putting the phone away for a few hours each day. Place it where you can’t see it or touch it so the temptation to pick it up is not there. Daily practice will create a new, healthy habit.

Practice forgiveness. Harboring hurt, anger, and resentment breeds negativity that can weaken the immune system and manifest itself in disease. Smile, practice love, and practice forgiveness — moment to moment, each day.

Surround yourself with loving, positive, uplifting people. Your best self emerges when others around you are being their best selves too.

References:

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/19/violent-media-anxiety_n_6671732.html
  2. https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx
  3. http://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/stress
  4. http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/10-bad-habits-that-can-cause-depression/
  5. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

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