How to Reduce Your Anxiety in 5 Simple Steps

Step 1: Try a News Fast

This is the first of a 5-part series covering simple steps you can take today to reduce your overall anxiety.  If you’re anything like me, the last year (I’m writing this in July of 2021) has been anything but peaceful and serene. 

I’ve never considered myself an anxious person.  I’m pretty good at taking what life has to offer me in stride and trusting that I’ll sort out the rest when the time comes.  I know that the only thing I can ever control in my life is how I react to it so I tend to worry about what’s happening in the moment rather than focusing on what could happen in the future. That has served me quite well…until 2020 came along.

2020 was the year I spent working as an emergency medicine physician during a pandemic, enduring record-breaking wildfires just miles from my house, and trying to keep a fledgling brewery afloat amidst multiple shutdowns. As you might expect, I have become much more familiar with the feeling of anxiety.

Because of this, I have attempted to develop strategies in my own life to lessen my anxiety and now I would like to share them with you.

So, without further ado, I give you the first strategy.

Step 1: Try a News Fast

I would like to recommend that you try something called the news fast. What is a news fast you ask? Well, it’s exactly like dietary fasting except you keep eating food but stop consuming all forms of news.

If you’re wondering why this might be helpful, I’d like you to think back to the last time you read, watched, or listened to the news. Think about the last breaking story that you heard about. Did you find yourself feeling calm or did you find yourself feeling worried, concerned, and/or anxious? If it was one of the latter emotions, you’re not alone.

With the advent of 24-hour news networks, social media, and numerous online resources, there is stiff competition for your viewing minutes. This means that to keep you watching and listening and reading, the “news” outlets need to keep you wanting more. Unfortunately, one of the main emotions that is used to drive this consumptive desire is fear.

This fear is created by other people’s opinions and conjecture about facts. These opinions are often the worst-case scenario and, while these worst-case scenarios may at times drive people to take positive action, they also can often leave us worried and anxious. There is even evidence to show that living in this constant state of concern lowers our immune system’s ability to fight disease.

The idea behind a news fast is that you limit your exposure to these outside stimuli for a set timeframe. This can be anything from 24 hours to a week or more. During that time, you abstain from all forms of news consumption.  I’d encourage you to include social media in this category.

Now, of course, I can hear you saying: how do you expect me to stay informed? Honestly, most of the things you need to know immediately, you will hear about. They aren’t secrets. That said, if you find yourself really struggling with the idea of reducing your news consumption, I’d love to work with you to coach you through it..