We are surrounded by media in the form of television, books, films and social media. Is it really affecting our mental health?
As parents, we try to carefully monitor the kind of media our children are consuming. There is an undeniable link between what they are exposed to and their behaviour levels.
It’s something we must always keep our eyes on. We don’t often do the same when it comes to the media we consume as adults, though. Should we be paying more attention to what we are consuming ourselves?
In the very same way that TV and media affects my son, it affects me too. I can come away from a TV show feeling inspired or deflated depending on the theme. If I watch something that has a sad theme, I tend to carry that feeling with me for a little while.
In the same way, something uplifting can have a positive effect on my mood for the rest of the day. So why then do we allow ourselves to consume the kind of media that has a negative effect on our mood and well-being?
Surely, we don’t want to welcome a bad mood or sadness? The biggest problem, it seems, is the fact that this media is not always a conscious decision. It can be as simple as a TV advert or something you’ve heard on the radio.
You may not have been paying a huge amount of attention to it but subliminally the message has reached you.
There are certain ads on the TV that champion road safety, for example. I don’t even have to be in the same room as the TV for that ad to affect me because I know the music that is played throughout the ad. When I hear that music, I am filled with the same feeling I felt when I first saw the ad. Sadness.
As adults, we really ought to monitor the kind of media we are consuming because it can have a huge impact on our relationships and work life. It also changes the way we parent.
In my case, I am a lot less likely to feel enthusiastic or energetic with my children if I am consumed with a feeling of stress or sadness. In contrast, when I feel a wave of positive energy I could, at the drop of a hat, decide we should do something fun together. It is quite profound, really.
So, how do we monitor it? I have personally started to only actively watch TV shows that make me feel relaxed and calm. I don’t like heavy documentaries about sad things (either historically or about present times).
I also don’t come away from watching the news with a feeling of happiness. Quite the opposite really. I know that it is important to know what is going on in the world and to be informed, but when so much of it is out of our control, it can instil a sense of panic and helplessness.
This is especially true when the events being reported are close to home. I’ve stopped watching the news and I’ve started recording my favourite TV shows so when an opportunity knocks, I have access to the shows that help me switch off.
Some days, I crave a laugh and other days I enjoy noticing what cast members are wearing. I come away from these TV shows feeling balanced, at the very least.
Often, I come away feeling inspired or better than I did before. I can’t recommend doing this enough. By vetting the media I am consuming, I feel like I am a happier person and ultimately a better mother and wife.