Headline Stress Disorder – Common during Pandemics / Epidemics / Endemics

We all wake up with our mobile phones near the bed. Clock is getting forgotten even if they are in front of us and seek mobile for everything. We don’t stop with the time, we swipe for the notification bar to appear and look at our feeds. Notification from a social media app will certainly be in that list. What we feed to our brain in the initial hours after sleep will have a greater impact. This I am saying by self-empathy. If I wake up by looking at my WordPress Followers count notification, I make myself enthusiastic. Any positive news or positive quotes I started with made my day, my day. As long as things are positive, well and good.

Once I happened to watch a video, shared in one of my WhatsApp groups, about the aftermath of the firing of a Gangster with bloodied bodies on the road. Imagine such a disgusting video you happen to see first early in the morning. I can still feel the trauma I went through that day. I could not do my routine after watching that video even though I stopped seeing it after the first body appeared on the road. I immediately left that WhatsApp group and was sitting numb for a few minutes. What did we go through now? Why did this video show up to me now? Why did the sender want me to watch it early in the morning? Since then I am careful in opening any video I get in WhatsApp. I had my videos auto-downloaded, after that incident I turned of everything. I check the thumbnail and confirm if the video does not hint any offense, then I watch if it is something really useful.

Just like early morning feeds, Headlines are framing our mindset throughout the day than the actual news. I read news a lot. I had one news app that updated me with latest news on time. If my Prime Minister sneezes during his Maan Ki Baat session, I will be notified by the time his last droplet falls on the ground. Initially I presumed I was getting to know a lot of information through this app, which is true. But during the pandemic, it eventually disturbed my peace. Every first morning news would read about the total death on the previous day with total positive counts. To be true, the urban area I live in had fewer cases than the overall count but this kind of news catastrophized my mind that I had to detox for hours to get back to normal.

Initially it was the news that made my day dreaded but later it so happened that the headlines were powerful enough to create a panic. ‘More deaths today than yesterday’, 5 word title good enough to visualize the impacts the Covid is bringing everyday. ‘Fire in Toilet Paper factory’, title strong enough to trigger the hoarding of Toilet Papers. Then I came to know about “Headline Stress Disorder” which was coined by psychologists during the Ebola Epidemic. After being fed with tons of similar news on similar titles, our minds predict the news content based on the headline. And we read more of news today that we don’t want to read every content in detail, just surf the title and let go, we have our imagination helping with content development.

Any time during the day, the news app I was talking about would throw these sort of titles in the notification bar. These create a perception that the days are getting worse and we can be infected any time. Fear and Stress easily takes over. I stay at home all the time except going out to buy groceries once a week. Even then it created panic of getting infected with the disease. Thinking about things not in our control is the main source of stress. News flash in Red showing full of negativity.

Main sources of Headline Stress Disorder:

  • Reading news often due to notification interrupts.
  • WhatsApp rumours getting circulated assuming they are true.
  • Negativity from fellow humans, exaggeration of things. Even a normal sneeze due to dust allergy gets labelled as a Corona Symptom.
  • Failure to distinguish between credible and non-reliable sources.

How did I stepover? I had this news app uninstalled. I relied on the newspaper that I read just once in the morning. For a week, I did not watch any news in TV. I could feel the difference, entire day I was conscious and normal. I had my routine of diversions from fatalities and made my day spending with family and kids. I got vaccinated and followed social distancing if I had to step out. I just focussed on things under my control. News is not an intraday trade market, looking for a drop or rise throughout the day. It is not going to help us in any way. Summary is to stay away from negativity and focus on your routine of productivity.

6 thoughts on “Headline Stress Disorder – Common during Pandemics / Epidemics / Endemics

Add yours

  1. A needed and timely post!
    Very right.. in surrounding everything everyday being stressful is getting so common! May the positive news and vibes steadily wash it away!
    Let each of us try to find the positives from every situation

    Liked by 1 person

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