It’s hard to escape the feelings of anxiety or even despair when it seems like there is one huge problem after another. Whether you are struggling with personal issues or the problems in our society, the feeling of helplessness, anger, and sadness can be overwhelming.

If watching the news leaves you with a feeling of hopelessness or anger, it might be time to cut way back on news consumption. Media of any kind has a powerful effect on the subconscious mind. If you are a very sensitive person and feel upset by seeing violence, it is very important for your mental health to avoid those kind of news stories. If watching TV or movies that showcase people in the role of “victim” causes you to feel afraid and overly concerned about being victimized, you will feel much better if you stop watching those types of media.

The problem is that your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is not. It also doesn’t recognize seeing the same thing over and over again as one incident. For example if you are watching a news program that is reporting a natural disaster and you see coverage of that same incident over and over again, that part of your mind is being re-traumatized, (if it is affecting you as trauma) as if it is a new incident each time. For a sensitive person, this can become very scary and even cause depression. Some people can intellectually keep negative things in perspective and change the subject very quickly when they are done observing the news or whatever negative thing they are watching. Most people are affected in some way by what they are taking in that way, some people more than others.

It is important for good mental health to take you attention off of the negative as often as possible. This is no easy task when we are exposed to news and information constantly whether we want to be or not. Sometimes people feel like they don’t want to watch the news but almost can’t help it. This is because it is a well ingrained habit and just like drinking coffee every morning is a habit, it is most people’s habit to check all their social media, e-mail and news sources first thing in the morning while they drink coffee. Strangely, as bad as we end up feeling after soaking in all the bad news, we repeat the same behavior the next day. If you think about it, this is a terrible way to begin each day.

This habit can be broken, it just takes being aware and caring enough about how you feel to change your routine. Believe it or not, soon you won’t miss it at all and it will actually bother you when you inadvertently take in some media that you don’t like. This doesn’t mean that you can’t stay informed about world or local events. It just means that you are discriminating about when you watch or read news, how much time you are spending on it, and most importantly how it’s making you feel.

Social media is the same. If you don’t feel good when you are scrolling through it, or feel like “unfriending” most of your friends, it might be time to take a break from it. So what do you do instead? It’s time to find some things to do that only feel good. Maybe it’s as simple as taking a walk every day and getting some sun. Maybe it’s reading a novel or a book that is purely for enjoyment. Maybe it’s finding a new hobby that requires you to learn something new, or picking up an old hobby that you haven’t made time for recently. Meditation is also a great way to feel good and there is no wrong way to do it.

If you are feeling “stuck” in negativity, try changing your routine, it can be life changing.