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Media Fasting For Mental Health

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I tried an experiment several months ago.  A very simple idea I’ll credit to author Tim Ferris, though blogger Leo Babauta and others have recommended the same idea–Media Fasting.

 

A simple concept really, completely avoid news, radio, Internet surfing, Facebook, Twitter and spend your time with family, friends, or other valuable pursuits.

In the first few days I felt strangely disconnected, my mind searching for missing “static.”  I actually craved background information noise.  As the days went on however, I began noticing a clarity of thought and renewed creativity. I also noted my days became more productive, focused, and less stressed.

I’ve found some simple truths while media fasting.  News gets repeated.  News is meant to inform but with so much competition, media providers repeat, exaggerate, and push the envelope of decency vying for ratings, viewers, listeners, and readers.  Disturbing images, trauma, conflict, and distress fuel the news.  Rarely do news stories up lift or promote values the make the world a better place.  I understand bad things happen, but watch how much removing this from your informational diet changes your mindset.

Interestingly, I also realized that your friends, family, and even strangers will provide news.  Just ask them.

So how long should you fast?  I recommend long enough to quit”caring” about news.  (I fasted for 3 weeks initially).  The process gave me a new perspective on the wasted time and effect news can have on my own mental state.  (I now consume carefully and infrequently.)

I can’t emphasize stress reduction enough.  In my daily medical practice stress contributes to a huge portion of complaints and ailments I treat.  Since my experiment,  I now frequently recommend media fasting an important stress reduction tool.  As I’ve mentioned before, less stress = less medical problems.   Stress can rob your health and steal joy.   I’ve found excess and unmeasured consumption of information can contribute to this problem.   (Top 10 ways to reduce stress)

Saying c-ya to Facebook, Twitter, Web-surfing, cable news, and the like isn’t easy, but a trial fast will give you new perspective and certainly more free-time.  When you go back after your fast, considering blocking periods of time for media consumption/participation.  (Like Facebook)  You will also find this frees thought, energy, and productivity without losing modern connectivity.

I hope this advice helps you.  Enjoy and share.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Lois March 5, 2016, 2:35 pm

    This election could drive anyone crazy!All the candidates seem to be knuckleheads; and the sames goes for our media. Therefore; I have no choice, if I want to stay sane, but to begin a media fast. I’ve planted a vegetable garden that I will be tending from 5:30 to 6:30 each evening!

    • William Curtis MD April 11, 2016, 6:40 am

      Sorry, somehow missed this comment….love your idea….I believe it’s all about “Sphere of influence” Most times, what we see on TV is out of our personal control, therefore unlikely to benefit us to worry or fester over. Planting a garden…great idea.

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