Too much doom and gloom is bad for you!
I find February in the UK is a pretty awful month. It’s easy to never see daylight with the dark mornings and dark evenings and the weather is often gloomy too. The promise of Spring seems a long way away off in February.
This February however, I had a dawning realisation of something I hadn’t noticed before. The negativity that is constantly being pumped out of our TV, telephone and computer screens and the effect it seems to be having on everyone. We appear to have become a nation of doom and gloom.
I am not sure exactly when it happened but suddenly the media decided that 24-hour news was imperative, necessary and should be given to us in volume. Many, like me, will switch on their TV and have the morning news burbling away at them while they get ready for the day. When on the commute, the likelihood is we will be listening to the news or scrolling through our screens reading it. When you are sat in office waiting rooms there is inevitably a screen with subtitles still chucking the news at you. I would listen to it again in the evening when preparing my meal and quite often again at 10:00pm before getting ready for bed.
It is constant. It is immediate. It is repeated throughout the day and almost 100% of it is mainly awful, negative or calamitous.
Reinforced doom and gloom breeds misery
Here’s my point: When I am trying to make a task habitual I will keep repeating and repeating it until the neural pathways are formed that then make it second nature. It seems to me that by the constant repetition of negative news the sense of fear, impending doom and anxiety are forming permanent pathways in our brains which, in turn, cause us to think and behave in a negative way.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for being informed; information is its own type of power. However, I can remember when the news was good sometimes and I don’t believe the world is so full of doom and gloom there is nothing happy to report.
I tried an experiment. I stopped listening to the news. That is not to say I don’t keep up with what is happening – I just pick the time I am feeling most happy during the day and then I check out the news stories online and restrict it to once a day. (exception – the financial news. As an ex-financial adviser, I like to keep an eye on what is happening in the financial sector but quite a lot of it is surprisingly quite heartening).
The result? The nagging, subconscious feeling that all is not well has gone. My sense of optimism and positivity has sky rocketed and that feeling of equilibrium has returned which I believe puts me in a better position to tackle the negative situations as they present themselves.
How to combat the doom and gloom
As a nation, the British are often described as stoic; we endure well and get on with it. We also have some of the most side splitting, clever comedians in the world so our stoicism is not without humour. We have a strong entrepreneurial spirit which requires optimism and we don’t take ourselves too seriously, so we can combat this constant diet of doom and gloom.
There is a horrible fascination with bad news stories, they can be compelling. But, we have a mighty power; it’s called the off switch! Yes, it is important to report what is happening in the world and be outraged by injustice, pain, human rights violations and war. However, you do not have to steep yourself in the constant doom and gloom and endless dissection of every negative occurrence across the globe.
“The human mind can bear plenty of reality but not too much intermittent gloom.” – Margaret Drabble
It is important to keep a healthy balance between being informed and being depressed.
Negativity leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am a firm believer in negativity attracts negative outcomes and, vice versa, positivity attracts positive outcomes. Which would you prefer?
If the news distresses you, turn it off and go and volunteer at your local charity for whichever cause resonates most strongly with you. One of the reasons we feel brought down by doom and gloom is because it makes us feel powerless. By acting to contribute positively to the world you regain power.
A powerful antidote to doom and gloom is humour. Tap into some happiness to counteract the bad news around you. I have even gone so far as to record comedy programmes and substituted these in for the times I would have normally watched or listened to the news. It is quite nice to start your day or go to bed chuckling.
I would be interested to know what your strategies are for defeating doom and gloom; leave a comment below and share them.