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Is the NEWS Making You Sick?

“Why am I so anxious, doctor? Should I be on medication for this?”

We are living in a time where anxiety is more the norm than the exception. Most people are unaware of what’s driving it or of the profound impact it has on our health and lives.

A colleague of mine recently told me about the many children she is seeing who are filled with anxiety and afraid of basic things like going to school or going into the school bathroom. They tell her things like: “I might get sick,” or “Someone could hurt me in there.”

When she dug deeper she realized they had all been exposed to pop culture media and had heard news of children getting exposed to lethal viruses, or being beaten in bathrooms. Now, they’re walking around in fear.

Adults experience the same repeated alarms. Right now, Ebola virus is all over the news. I’ve received dozens of emails from the hospitals I work at warning us to be on the alert for ebola, which is a life-threatening, and to screen every patient we see for possible infection. Patients are coming in afraid they might be infected…even if they have no symptoms.

“But I need to be aware of what’s going on so I can protect myself! Isn’t a little fear good for me so I avoid things that could hurt me?” I’ve heard many people ask.

There is a big difference between having intelligence and wisdom to avoid dangerous situations…and living in fear.

Here are 2 points to remember:

  1. When we live in “high alert” our immune system is suppressed, our food does not get digested, and our sleep is interrupted, so we DO get sick.
  1. The NEWS is not meant to support and inform us. The NEWS is a business created to generate profit. The more sensational and alarming the information, the more dependent and powerless, and sick we become because we’re scared.

I had a brilliant business mentor explain the distorted perspective we get from the NEWS through this story:

“Imagine there is an isolated culture on an island far from civilization. The inhabitants catch fish for food, and the entire culture is dependent on the fishing trade. One day, a shark comes along and kills someone. Everyone is scared, and no one dares go near the water for days. Until….people begin to get very hungry, so finally some brave souls venture into the water to catch some fish. Time goes by and more and more people begin to fish again until within a few months’ life returns to normal.

In this culture, shark attacks happen every few years. The community goes through this process of alarm, then gradually returns to normal within a short period of time.

Now, let’s say one day someone introduces TV broadcasting to this society. Through the NEWS, they are shown the reality that shark attacks happen on other islands too. Now, instead of every few years, they see shark attacks almost every day. They live in constant fear and anxiety because they are watching these attacks over and over, continually reminded of this threat as they observe the fate of the injured.

Illnesses develop. People start stealing and hoarding fish. Children are afraid to swim and play. Since there is so much fear and competition, they’re even afraid to go to school.”

This story explains so much about the environment we live in and what it’s doing to our bodies.

So…what can we do???

Here’s your prescription:

Ditch the newspapers and turn OFF your TV for one week. Yes, really. This has a profound and immediate impact on your wellbeing and the health of your body. Even your brain activity will become healthier…all within days.

I know you might not like this idea. In my online program Mind Your Body, we have participants go on a “Media Diet” for the duration of the program. At first many gripe, and are bewildered that we’re asking them to live “in isolation.” What they find instead is that they not only feel healthier and more at peace, but they very quickly deepen their connection and intimacy with family and others they love.

I’m not asking you to live in a cave to preserve your health, nor am I asking you to ignore what’s happening around you. I promise, all the information you need to live a safe and healthy life will come to you anyway. Just try this for a week and see what happens!

Let me know your plan and I will support you in this. Can’t wait to hear what happens!!

Be well,

-Dr. Kim

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