Real or not, news content is written to get clicks. Much of it's inflammatory, exaggerated or flat-out annoying.
Tempting as it is, don't ignore the news. Instead, know where to find reliable information, how to vet sources and when to take a break. Here's how to do it:
1. Stick to dedicated sites
News sites without an established niche often publish dramatized or biased content to draw you in. Those that focus on just one subject tend to offer deeper and more objective analyses of their topic area.
For all things Covid-19, check out Six Feet Apart. This mission-driven lifestyle site publishes blogs on "new normal" topics, such as when and where it's safe to travel. The articles are written by experts, like doctors and business owners, who create informative, trustworthy content on how to handle the uncertainty.
2. Use alerts for must-see news
Even on trusted sites, you'll get stressed out if you spend all your time reading the news. The better approach? Sign up for alerts -- but again, choose your sources carefully.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sends out a weekly newsletter anyone can sign up for. If you use Gmail, you can set desktop alerts for certain senders and types of emails.
As the nation's health protection agency, the CDC works to prepare health providers, schools, and communities for disease outbreaks. Long story short, it's a source you can trust.
3. Prioritize your own protection
The CDC focuses on community-level updates. The World Health Organization (WHO), on the other hand, leans toward individual best practices. Reading this second type of content can give you a sense of empowerment.
A good example is the international health group's guide on how to wear masks. Learning how to protect yourself can provide you peace of mind about your own safety. Plus, it helps you do your part for your community, which also feels good.
4. Customize your social media feeds
Social media is a great way to connect with friends and find your favorite content. Unfortunately, it's also full of alarming, clickbaity content that you may not want to see after a long day of work.
One option is to simply spend less time on social media. But if you want to have your cake and eat it, too, try muting certain words.
Take a moment to scroll through Mute, which lets you cut content related to the top 100 keywords from your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Facebook's "Keyword Snooze" also allows you to mute annoying posts and topics for 30 days.
5. Know when to step back
As important as it is to stay informed, remember that your mental health matters more. When it simply becomes too much to bear, close your computer. Read a book, connect with an old friend or take a bath -- whatever helps you manage your stress.
If you're still struggling, download a stress management app. Meditation tools like Headspace and Calm can help you find, well, some headspace and calm. If meditation doesn't do it for you, gamified apps like Happify provide personalized activities and pointers to boost your wellbeing.
There's no one-size-fits-all way to balance stress management with staying informed. Living in a time when content can be consumed at the touch of a button doesn't help. Stick to trustworthy sites, and when in doubt, take a break. You deserve it, and in any case, the pandemic isn't going away any time soon.