I Stopped Following the News on Sundays and the World Didn’t End

You can say many negative things about the year 2016 but in terms of news stories, there definitely wasn't a dull moment all year. Whenever you looked at the news, there seemed to be some new catastrophe unfolding somewhere in the world. And surprise, surprise, all the problems of 2016 didn’t magically disappear on New Year’s Eve no matter how much we hoped they would, which meant the flood of bad news continued undisturbed into 2017. I was beginning to feel quite overwhelmed by the sheer volume of doomsday news jumping at me from every website and social media platform every time I looked at my phone. So, I decided I would start taking one day every week where I didn’t follow the news at all, and focused on other things.

I picked Sunday, because it tends to be a bit slower on the news front compared to weekdays, and because this would mean I had an entire day for catching up on coursework, meeting friends and reading books, instead of being glued to my phone, fretting about the world ending any minute now. A proper, relaxing Sunday.

The Saturday before my first news fast, I scrolled frantically through news sites, blogs, and magazines, trying to soak up as much information about as many things as I possibly could before my self-inflicted 24-hour news blackout. When I woke up Sunday morning, I immediately reached for my phone to check my social media like I always do, and actually felt slightly anxious as I forced myself to not check any news apps. However, as the day went on, I found myself getting on just fine without knowing exactly what was going on everywhere in the world. The first couple of Sundays I did slip a few times, because in moments of boredom I automatically reached for my phone and started browsing the news without realising what I was doing (and to be honest, without really paying attention to what I was reading, either). By the time my third news-free Sunday rolled around though, I was actually looking forward to a peaceful day, with less time spent on my phone, worrying about the state of the world and more time spent doing other, more meaningful and more productive things.

I thought I was only going to try this for a month or two, just to give my brain a little break, but there’s so many benefits to keeping Sundays news-free that I think I’ll keep doing it. Not only have I realised that I can easily go through the most important and most interesting news from Sunday the next morning and genuinely not miss anything, avoiding the news also means I tend to avoid Facebook and other social media where I might be tempted to sneak a peek at some headlines. I love social media, but spending a little less time scrolling mindlessly through my feeds is not a bad thing.

Would I recommend a weekly news fast to others? Definitely. If reading a newspaper with your breakfast is an essential part of your Sunday morning routine, that might be different, but I would strongly recommend shutting out the 24/7 noise of online news for one day. Read a book. Go for a walk. Take moment for yourself. I can't promise the world won't end while you're Sunday-brunching without a care in the world, but if it does at least you’ll feel way more zen about it.