It’s been now two years since I stepped away from a 24/7 news job I had worked for over 25 years.

Two years since I no longer had to turn on my television if I saw an earthquake alert on my phone.

In fact two years since I turned off nearly all my notification and muted my phone.

If I had known how turning off all the notifications on my phone would be so liberating, soul cleansing, I would have possibly left the industry earlier.


Do not get me wrong, I am not one to advocate cutting off all news from my life and living an ascetic life. News serves a very important function in society and ignoring all and any news is, in my opinion, dangerous for both the industry and society as whole. However, with the advent of mobile phones, the ability for all news platform to bombard you with alerts and headlines screaming the latest outrage and scandal or disaster has increased hundred fold. And the human pysche has not evolved to withstand that much stress for such long periods of time.


Even prehistoric man must have had a life where most days passed by fairly serene and calm, with an occassional day or two where the tribe would have been on high alert because they heard or sensed a predator, or enemy nearby.

Modern humans are now subjected to stress equivalent to the presence of a predator or hostile neighbour at any and every moment.


We know now how extended exposure to stress damages the brain structure, and also constant high cortisol levels – the stress hormone – is know to be behind chronic inflammation that puts us at risk of many fatal health risks.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment


I can personally attest to having had nearly all the above symptoms and risk factors. I have fortunately never suffered a heart attack but I am at high risk due to the weight I gained over the last ten years. I have suffered from some form of anxiety, digestive problems, headaches, muscle tension and certainly concentration impairment. My primary care doctor has expressed her surprised at the high level of inflammation found from blood tests.


Turning off those notifications was the first step in my recovery process. I now schedule my news intake to fit my needs rather than have my health be managed by the news cycle. Social media, which also tends thrive on outrage and confrontational news, is especially damaging and I try to curate my news feeds on social media and unfollow aggressive news sites that monger in shock and horror. I also block acquaintances that seek out debates without being interested in the opinion of others.


My system is not perfect, and I still find myself commenting on some piece of outrage even though I know my outrage will just be one of many triggering comments for other people too.


But compared to the days where I lived under the constant threat of news alerts and notifications, my life has become more humane. I may miss responding at times to emails that others think are urgent, but that is small price to pay for my mental health.