30 January 2009

A Different Fast

Many religious traditions have physical fasts, and some people occasionally fast for purely for their heath. I personally do not believe there are any valid heath reasons, unless crashing your metabolism has hidden health benefits I cannot see. But integrative medicine guru Andrew Weil (that beard alone makes him some kind of guru) has long advocated the benefits of a "media break" or "news fast." He's written on this a lot, but one piece can be read here. Basically, news specifically but also other media can contribute significantly to stress and depression. An NYT article recently reported a study linking television watching and depression. One snippet:

    “We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy,” Dr. Robinson said. “TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less.”
I have myself tried media fasts, news fasts in particular, and it really works for me. Reading the news simply expands my world of concerns. Some times a smaller, simpler world is what I really need.

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