August 12, 2023




Why You Should Quit The News

At a glance

Today’s Fast Summary:

  • Studies show that engaging in news increases anxiety and depressive symptoms. It causes us to catastrophize our personal woes.

  • Exposure to news triggers a vicarious trauma response. Watching it causes the brain to think it’s in crisis, even though you’re not directly involved in the tragedy.

  • Quitting the news—and staying off—provides you time to spend pursuing your goals.

  • Create a plan to replace the time you spent engaging with news media with more meaningful activity, and ask a friend to keep you accountable.

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Why You Should Quit The News

The average person consumes 4 articles, 8,200 words, and 226 messages daily, and spends 70 minutes watching news media.

That’s a great deal of time—time that could be spent engaging in more beneficial activities.

We do so for the pursuit. As humans, we’re compelled to be ‘in the know’ at all times.

This pursuit is one of overabundance. We live in a society highly characterized by excess. This idea extends to food, alcohol, and even information.

We’re aware that overabundant eating is dangerous, and that alcohol overconsumption is deadly, but I’m left with one thought: What about information? More specifically, what is an overabundance of information from news doing to our brains?

Studies show that engaging in news increases anxiety and depressive symptoms. It causes us to catastrophize our personal woes.

It triggers your limbic system, causing a rise in cortisol, the stress hormone. This inhibits the release of growth hormones.

Looking long-term, engaging in news that covers negative events and catastrophes causes a significant uptick in stress symptoms. It leads to psychological and behavioral changes such as

  • Disengaging from others

  • Restricting or increasing child monitoring

  • Nightmares and insomnia

  • Adopting a pessimistic world-view

  • Loss of motivation

Exposure to news triggers a vicarious trauma response. Vicarious trauma is the indirect exposure to trauma through a first-hand account. Watching the news causes the brain to think it’s in crisis, even though you’re not directly involved in the tragedy.

In other words, the news poisons your body just like years of bacon cheeseburgers and limited physical activity.

Why You Should Quit

I’ve compiled a list of reasons why you should quit the news. Use these to motivate you to leave it be.

  • News is virtually irrelevant. Media outlets often report events and disasters of little relevance. The news of a car crash in Manhattan won’t help you navigate your way to work in Los Angeles. News of an active shooter in Detroit won’t help you finish your work proposal. It doesn’t aid you in your pursuit of growth.

  • News inhibits complex thought. News segments are attention-grabbing. They’re designed to interrupt your day. The news takes away your ability to concentrate on more important ideas because it removes time for conscious thought.

  • News negatively impacts memory. News disrupts concentration, which thwarts comprehension. Comprehension is paramount to working memory. Engaging with news lessens comprehension, temporarily altering the way you remember facts.

  • News seeks to entertain, not inform. Much of what the news presents is emotionally charged, designed to convince you of a disaster. Highly sensationalized, overblown messages change the way your body responds to actual panic.

How to Quit It: Practical Advice

Quitting the news can help you gain clarity. It’s an easy way to decomplicate your life and make better decisions. Quitting the news—and staying off—provides you time to spend pursuing your goals.

Try these tips to quit the news for good:

  1. Create a plan

“Few things are as important to your quality of life as your choices about how to spend the precious resource of your free time.” —Winifred Gallagher

Create a plan for how you’ll quit the news. Think about potentially triggering or tempting situations. Figure out how you’ll react accordingly.

Find a substitute for the bad habit. Fill the time you’d normally spend watching or reading the news with a more meaningful activity.

Try exercising in the morning or going for a walk. Call a friend or family member or read an interesting book. Use the time to write to your friends and family, or give them a quick call. Listen to an audiobook, or meditate.

Write an affirmative statement in your phone’s notes app. Use only active language, and write in the present tense. Something like, “Tomorrow, when I feel the urge to check my phone for news updates, I’ll go for a walk,” is highly effective.

  1. Delete All Your News Apps

Put the plan into action. Delete or neglect the forms of news you typically consume. Block any unnecessary notifications from news outlets. Stop watching it in the morning.

For accountability, tell a trusted friend what you’re doing. Ask them to check in with you weekly to track your progress.

  1. Conquer FOMO

FOMO refers to the fear of missing out. A study found that those who frequently experience FOMO are more likely to report lower life satisfaction and dangerous behaviors. It’s also linked to loneliness and depression.

Gratitude journaling can help you conquer FOMO. Gratitude for life’s positive qualities boosts your appreciation of them. It reminds you that you’re not alone.

Keep a gratitude journal physically, or on your phone. Each morning, record three things you’re grateful for.

These things can be small or large. You can be grateful for good weather, or for a loved one’s kindness.

  1. Reflect on your life without news

Realistically, your life wasn’t better when you were consuming news. Many people report that the news leaves them feeling worse about the world around them.

After 1 month without the news, reflect on your life after quitting. Think about the positive changes you’ve incorporated as a result of freed time.

  1. Filter The News You Consume

If you can’t quit, filter it. Focus on news sources that offer multiple objective perspectives.

Question their sources. Research where they find their information.

If a source’s reporting seems unsubstantiated or underresearched, cut that outlet. Don’t pay attention to news outlets that use faulty sources or report ‘fake news.’

When consuming news, ask yourself, “Is this piece of news helping me in some way?” If it is, continue. If not, cut it.

Use the news to expand your thinking.

The news isn’t helping you become a better person. The time you spend on it, can.

This week, I ask you to reflect on your bodily and mental responses to news media. Critically think about how the news affects you and be honest in your responses. Then, consider some of the practical advice presented in this article, and construct a plan to quit the news today.

  1. What is your current news habit?

    a. How often do you engage in news media? Think about yesterday: How much time did you spend listening, watching, or reading the news? Write down this number.

    b. How did you feel while engaging in news media? Reflect on how you physically felt while watching the news. Did you feel at ease, relaxed, or tranquil? Or, did you become anxious and tired? A helpful tip is to consider what you did after engaging in the news—were you motivated to get things done, or did you feel hapless and frustrated?

  1. What could quitting the news do for you?

    a. Consider the physical, behavioral, and mental potential you’ll unlock if you quit the news. Use this newsletter as a guide.

    b. Write down a few things or reasons why you specifically would benefit from eliminating news media from your life.

  1. Create a plan for how you’ll quit the news.

    a. Construct an affirmatory sentence stating how you’ll quit the news, using the newsletter as a guide.

    b. Brainstorm activities and tasks to replace the time you spend on news media. Create a long list of potential activities, and incorporate your favorites into the sentence you created.

Quitting the news isn’t easy, but you’ll be happy you did it.


I’d love to hear from you:

  • Which of the anti-news facts did you find interesting? Are there any you’d add?

  • Can you practically quit the news? Why or why not?

Tweet at me (@_alexbrogan) or respond to this email — I’ll try to respond to everyone.

Have a wonderful Saturday, all.

Until next time,


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