For people dealing with illness, the evening news can present a dilemma: "Watching the news upsets me. Not watching gives my illness control over my life."
What's a Healthy Survivor to do? I can sense the regular readers of this blog smiling with confidence in predicting the first two words of my response: It depends.
The recent drama-filled stories and accompanying imagery of trauma and grief have done more than relay the news about recent terrorism. They have stirred viewers' emotions. So the best response depends on whether watching the news hampers or fosters Healthy Survivorship.
For people who are experiencing their own constellation of fears and grief related to personal illness, watching the news may be unwise for the time being. Clues? After watching, you experience...
- unpleasant emotions that linger
- new or more frequent nightmares
- a heightened sense of vulnerability and helplessness
- feeling less able to cope with your illness
- feeling less hopeful about recovery
Paradoxically, watching may help you feel calmer or stronger because...
- your problems feel relatively small
- you feel inspired by stories of resilience
- you can release pent-up emotions
- you don't feel alone in facing adversity
Determine which needs are met by watching. Is TV the best way to meet those needs (vs. checking headlines online or in papers)? There is no right answer. There is a best choice for you today. If it's best to avoid the news for now, doing so shows wisdom and strength in your pursuit of Healthy Survivorship.