The News Is The Real Virus: Why You Should disconnect Right Now
Your biology is not designed for the flood of fear and propaganda
I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon. In fact, as a self-proclaimed iconoclast, I avoid it.
But something needs to be said.
We are at the point where just reading the “word” is causing psychological and physiological damage.
Writers think they are doing good by “preparing” people. That’s a joke.
People are as unprepared or prepared as they’re ever going to be. And the idea that people are going to change much about their life or who they are is laughable.
The vast majority of people are sitting at home glued to their screens and wallowing in fear of not knowing what’s going to happen. Many are struggling with financial and health problems to boot.
So please tell me what the fuck more news coverage of this is going to do for anyone?
It does nothing but stoke fear and suppress immune function.
We need an entire day where we don’t talk about the virus. We can make it a national holiday.
Your body can’t tell the difference between real and fake
Here’s an interesting thing to consider that might help illustrate my point.
There is research that suggests watching a food commercial can create a hormone response in a viewer’s body.
Translation: Watching junk food on TV can make you gain weight.
This isn’t surprising if you understand our evolutionary past.
When you see food, your body responds with a cascade of internal responses preparing your body to eat. Our ancestors didn’t have screens, so any food they saw was right in front of them. So when you and I see food, we salivate and or brain primes the body for digestion and mastication whether or not the food is physically in front of us.
You know that feeling when you see the waiter finally bringing your meal, and your mouth starts watering before the plate even hits the table?
That’s what I’m talking about—a biological response that is hard-coded into your genes.
Fear, Stress, Fight or Flight
This evolutionary principle also applies to fear and stress.
Humans did not evolve to deal with a constant stream of fear-mongering headlines and stimuli. Your brain can’t delineate between what it sees on a screen and what exists here and now. As a result, your biology responds the way it’s designed.
In response to stress, whether real or imagined, your body responds by activating flight or fight hormones.
When you start feeding your reptilian brain a constant surge of fear, sex, and dopamine, it goes haywire. It becomes inflamed. It leads you to do, say, and think stupid things. You develop bad ideas. You become irrational. Afraid.
We maladapted to the world we live in, and this biological fact comes with consequences.
What’s especially insidious about all this is how addictive these behaviors are for our species.
When you scan the newest headlines and social media updates, you become addicted to the small spikes of dopamine, which is a brain neurotransmitter connected to the feeling of pleasure.
It feels good to be connected. It feels good to be addicted.
Humans lack the willpower to exert self-control over this kind of behavior because we are not designed to live in a modern environment. The environment we are designed for has no screens, no news, no porn, no processed food, no couches, no chairs, no Netflix, no iPhones.
We evolved in a harsh environment where staying alive and procreating took concerted effort. Thus Mother Nature programmed us with strong primal urges to ensure we did the things that kept us alive, like hunt, gatherer, have sex, explore, work together, distrust outsiders, be afraid of danger.
Our on-demand, always-connected world poses one of the greatest threats to our species that no one is talking about is. It’s why there is a healthy dose of criticism towards the tech companies that create these addictive products that prey on our inherent weaknesses—probably not enough criticism.
Stress is a choice…. your choice
When you engage in constant fear and panic, you create a stress response in your body.
Notice I said, “you create.”
Let’s now look at how stress affects the body and mind.
Cortisol is one of the primary stress hormones. It is integral to many processes in your body. It helps keep you alive.
Your biology is designed to serve up cortisol infrequently and in small amounts, usually in response to something in your environment that is dangerous or unknown, like a snake or a big cat nearby.
The problems arise when cortisol becomes chronically elevated. Chronically elevated cortisol is linked to modern disease. It’s not something you want.
Stress and Blue Zones
I heard something relevant to this recently, though I forget where. It relates to the Blue Zones, which are areas around the globe where people live the longest, many living past 100 years of age.
Researchers have tried to pinpoint the mechanisms that allow these groups to live longer than the rest of the population. Unfortunately, due to the range of environments and lifestyles, recommendations are weak at best.
There is one thing, though.
Something all 100+ year-old humans have in common is they don’t get stressed out. They are calm, easy-going, not hurried. It’s worth noting that these areas had little or no modern tech when this research as performed.
People that live to 100 don’t get stressed out. You could also say people that live to 100 years don’t let themselves get stressed.
This is an important distinction. “Get stressed” implies something is done to you, whereas “don’t let themselves get stressed” suggests agency.
When it comes to stress, you must understand and take responsibility for the fact that you control your stress levels. You and you alone.
If you allow yourself to consume content that stresses you out, you will become stressed. As a result of increased stress, you will make yourself more susceptible to the very thing you are afraid of.
That’s dumb. Yet few take responsibility for the content they consume, and even fewer take responsibility for the content they produce.
Shame on both.
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers
There is a classic book written about stress and chronic disease: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.
The book explores the connection between chronic stress and modern Western disease. The gist is the connection between chronically elevated stress levels, and thus elevated cortisol levels, and disease. As we have become more connected, informed, and information-rich, we have also become sicker mentally and physically.
I believe many will stress themselves to death in the coming months. For some, turning the news off may just save their life.
People are afraid. They are glued to their screens and addicted to the news cycle. This makes sense; humans always try to remove uncertainty. We struggle with the unknown, which is why we so quickly jump to panic mode and buy all the toilet paper at the first sign of trouble on the horizon.
The problem that comes with this attempt to remove uncertainty is it elevates stress. Our cortisol levels rise. Elevated cortisol promotes disease and suppresses immune function, not a state you want to be during a pandemic.
The answer is to turn it off.
You don’t need to read every headline that flashes across your screen or click on those VIRUS videos. And as sad as they are, you don’t need to read the pieces about loved ones passing after losing their fight with this virus. You don’t owe it to people to feel bad for them. You can’t internalize it. You have to take care of yourself.
If you are concerned about missing something important, you won’t. If something big happens, you will hear about it. It will find you. So don’t convince yourself of anything else.
After that, your next step is to be proactive.
Take this time to read the books on your list.
Start that project you’ve been putting off.
Learn how to cook or reactivate the habit.
Most important of all, take this time to build your health. Get outside, exercise, eat right, sleep as much as you can, and take this opportunity to reset your mental and physical health.
One thing’s for sure… you won’t change anything that is going to happen by worrying about it. And being in the know makes you weaker, not stronger.
Many are going to stress themselves sick. A panic-induced state of elevated cortisol is the WORST state you could be in right now.
Finally, as I hope you understand by now, there are real consequences to always being connected. This is not the mental place you want to be.
I’ll leave you with a simple list of the most impactful things you can do for your health:
- Eat Real Food only — do not eat sugar, grains, seed/vegetable oils, and anything processed.
- Get daily sunlight, 30 mins at least, with as much skin exposed as possible. And no sunglasses.
- Drink plenty of water
- Take your fish oil and cod liver and eat fatty fish and shellfish.
- Take a long walk each day.
- Try hot/cold exposure.
- Sleep as many hours as your body lets you, without an alarm clock to wake up.
- Sit outside and breathe.