Last month while I was caretaking for my mum, (See this article) I did something I had not done in a very long time. I watched the news.
She watches the news, so I watched the news.
NEGALIMINATION : Radically Reducing Negativity In Your Life
After about a week I could hardly stand it. I felt an energy sink as five o’clock approached, and I finished the hour feeling moderately depressed and sedated. Pretty strong reaction to the news for goodness sake!! But science has shown that exposure to negative news stories does affect parts of the brain including the limbic system. Cascades of unnecessary cortisol (stress hormone) get dumped into the system causing havoc on the other hormones connected to adrenal function. Over time, growth hormone, digestion disruption, susceptibility to infection, and nervous behaviors are all impacted (1). Other deleterious effects of frequent news watching are cognitive errors, decreased creativity, and passivity.
READ MORE about the negative effects of news watching!
Imagine having given up sugar. Perhaps you haven’t had it in a long time, and suddenly you have some. Most people will report it tastes overpoweringly sweet. Having removed it from your diet resulted in your body reacting to it more strongly once reintroduced.
That was the news and me. Except, in this case, it wasn’t sweetness I was suffering.
But it is not just the negative news. It is negative anything.
Many years ago after attending a chiropractic conference, a speaker brought to my attention the power “negativity” has in our lives. He spoke regarding when we expose ourselves to negative beliefs or attitudes there are hormonal and physiologic impacts on our body (2). Whether it is a mean conversation, a visually disturbing movie, or a current state of affairs newscast, they all have an influence on our wellbeing.
For many years I have intentionally “Negaliminated.” I have consciously removed negative exposure from my life and replaced it with positivity. I don’t watch or read the news (trust me, you will find out if it is important enough) and I have been increasingly sensitive to people in my life that bring toxicity or constant negativity. I pay attention to how I feel in certain situations or conversations, and if my negativity meter is going off, I remove myself.
I’m not the only one.
Maya Angelou has a policy. She does not allow negative conversation to happen within the four walls of her house. She radically eliminates anything negative from the space within which she works and lives. She says,
“Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Someday we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally into you.”
We have the choice to exchange exposure to negative things and their subsequent impact on our health, for the more empowering positivity that comes from humor, laughter and great community.
Along those lines, there is plenty of data to show that positive mindset, humor, and positivity have the counter effect to negativity. Our immune systems improve with funny movies, and our cognitive function stays more alert with regular laughter. Research reveals that humor and laughter can also have positive results on blood pressure, brain function, heart, respiration, and mental, emotional states (3).
“Your body cannot heal without play.
Your mind cannot heal without laughter.
Your soul cannot heal without joy.”
— Catherine Rippenger Fenwick
I tried to talk my mother out of watching news every night in exchange for an old movie, something funny or nothing at all. She would not have it. She had always watched the news and read several papers for as long as I can remember. But you have the opportunity to make that change. You can decide today to start consciously removing negativity from the world around you.
You can Negaliminate.
To whatever extent you are willing, I encourage you to Negaliminate. Become aware of negative, gossipy conversations, be radical in your elimination of negative news, and most important take stock of toxic people around you.
Your health is relying on it.
Here is my challenge to you this week. For one week I want you to eliminate as much negative exposure as you can. That might mean the news, Facebook, music, commercials, reading materials, certain friends or coworkers, certain projects or activities.
At the end of the week, I want you to look at several factors: sleep quality, energy level, general mood and wellbeing and sense of satisfaction with life. I would love to know what you learn.
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