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Hi. My name is Ashley Costello and I’m a Licensed Clinician at Thriveworks Richmond. So the question is, “Is it bad to watch the news during COVID-19?” Well, like many mental health answers, yes and no, depending on your situation. Here are three examples in which it would be bad though to watch the news.

First, if you have it playing in the background all day, the negativity will seep into your day without you even realizing it and ultimately affect your mood and worldview in a negative way. Second, if you feel triggered or emotionally flooded to the point where it keeps you from engaging in your activities of daily living. In other words, if watching the news makes it hard for you to get out of bed in the morning or impossible, don’t watch the news. Third, if the news you’re watching about COVID-19 isn’t really news, but more just talking heads, making this public health crisis more politically divisive… yeah, that may be interesting to some, but it’s not productive during this pandemic.

So those are just three examples of how watching the news about COVID-19 could be bad for your mental health. Therapists like myself know that obsessively watching the news anyway leads to poor mental health outcomes. That being said, we also know that people are resilient and there’s no need to bury our head in the sand and avoid the news altogether.

In order to find a healthier balance, I recommend limiting your news intake to first only watching fact-based news based on the knowledge at hand and not political opinions and second, watching max 30 minutes of this news in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening—if you want to watch that much. That way you’re starting your day off aware of the updates and can get more information in the evening if you’d like.

Additionally, always check your sources of information, especially if it’s on social media. One final thought, however you’re handling the COVID-19 pandemic, cut yourself and your loved ones some slack. This is an unprecedented time in history and we’re all going through this for the first time. The quarantines and isolation will end eventually.

So in the meantime, set boundaries for how much and what kind of news you watch. Do what you got to do to take care of your mental and physical health and keep those relationships with your loved ones strong. We’re all in this together, so please know that we’re here to help.