It’s good to stay informed and alert about the latest developments regarding the pandemic situation. However, with the waves and waves of negative news and information about COVID-19 hitting you every waking moment, and given the extra time on your hands (since you might be cooped up at home or work for you might have slowed down), you could wind up down the rabbit hole, chasing every single bit of COVID-19-related information out there.
The result? You may be overwhelmed by the information overload and end up feeling even more helpless and lost than ever; you overthink things and become unnecessarily stressed over any kind of bad news, even those that do not relate to you directly; or might even be misled by misinformation, sensationalistic coverage or unverified digital chatter and online gossip, that could further could seed, feed and breed more of your fear and paranoia the more you dig such “fake news”.
But, don’t worry; there are some simple steps you can take to cope with the inundation and regain your Zen-self, by controlling your news intake and lessening your compulsion to find out about everything COVID-19, 24/7.
Go On A News Diet
It’s hard to disengage yourself from the reality of things and remain detached when we depend on the news – whether it’s through official broadcasting and print media, your Insta-feed and other social and digital platforms, or from convos with family, friends and colleagues – to find out what’s going on out there in our community and the world. Feelings of distress and dread are to be expected, what with all the reportage about the number of infections, the death toll, and the economic and societal problems and issues arising due to the pandemic. While a complete digital detox is not the best option for these times (one does need to be kept updated about the disease and public health restrictions), it could be counterproductive to do the complete opposite, and wade through and swallow the sea of information. Instead, you could attempt to go on a news “diet”, one that you can go about like a physical, food-based one, but for the sake of your mental health.
Time & Portion Out Your “Meals”
Finding it hard to tear yourself away from your digital and online habits, have a FOMO addiction, or feel the TMI-feels everytime you log on? Then maybe you should try to monitor and limit how much and how often you check up on the news. You could set a time each day catching up on the latest happenings – like what you might have normally done during your pre-Covid days in the mornings – and then opt to “switch off” until you return to it later in the day or even the next morning, so that you aren’t consuming (or be consumed by) ever-scrolling, never-ending feeds, all waking hours of the day. If setting a timing is inconvenient, then set the amount of time you spend on reading the news – it’s all about moderation – and, prioritise the most important, latest, newsworthy or PSA ones first. That opinion piece about WFH fashion can wait.
The Right Sauce, We Mean, Source
It would also do you good to be more careful about your reading materials and viewing content (a.k.a. the information you find and absorb), as well as the sources you get your latest juice from. Stick to trustworthy news platforms and regulating bodies or authorities, such as the licenced broadcasters and newspapers, and official government ministries and agencies. For example, you can check out the Ministry Of Health’s site (moh.gov.sg) for all the latest news highlights such as press releases, speeches and even official forum replies on COVID-19. Of course, you can choose to look up other sites, forums, feeds and other such avenues of information for your extra reading or viewing pleasure, but make sure to try and be discerning about the kind of content you peruse and follow.
Chew On The Good Stuff
Instead of just paying attention to all those sad, sad news out there like increasing infection rates, evolving strains, bad behaviour of our fellow folk and fear-mongering gossip, try indulging in some happy ones. We aren’t saying you should ignore the harsh reality that’s in front of you, but take some time out to look out for those silver linings in the dark clouds. Try picking up on articles or stories that take a positive spin on the situation or focus on the more humanistic aspects of the pandemic. Look up heartwarming stories of human resilience, bravery and optimism; commentaries and opinion pieces that provide sensible advice instead of simply delivering criticism; or articles that speak of empowerment, self-care or encouragement in times of panic and crisis. It might help you feel less down about the state of affairs or your own personal predicament, and help you get a more balanced viewpoint of the pandemic situation and a better grip on yourself.
Sharing Is Caring… But Care About What You Share
If you must self-enforce a personal media blackout in your life every now and then in order to take a necessary time-out from all the gloom and doom, you ought to still get vital information from trusted sources, such as your best friends and loved ones who have a cool head on their shoulders. By doing so, you not only are kept connected with the world but also open up lines of constant communication and form a support network of sorts with those closest to you, letting you feel less isolated and alone in your feels.
At the same time, make sure to sieve out correct, accurate or verified info from mere hearsay or conspiratorial talk that you receive, even from your friends and family. While such news may not necessarily be spewed or spread with ill intent, and come from a place of fear, anger, frustration or plain ignorance, it can easily act as inflammatory fuel for harmful thoughts. At the same, don’t just pass on any such “fake news” on your own, even if you mean well. It can brew and stir up more troubled minds of those who are more easily triggered amongst your kith and kin, and might also lead to more trouble, personally and legally, for you, too. Basically, stay calm and collected, and check up on iffy pieces of chit-chat, “insider” knowledge and biased “insight” before you end up disseminating all that misinformation and pessimism.
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