Too many people have been experiencing information overload. This is in part due to the fact that many lay persons, in their efforts to help, have all become “health professionals”, sharing their own and other people’s versions of COVID prevention and cure. There are also the conspiracy theorists, and those who are just intent on sending all and sundry to you in EVERY social media space there is, and so you get the same things from MULTIPLE people.

All this is both well-intentioned, and also, in a way, therapeutic to those sharing the information, as it helps to make them feel connected and useful in a time of such uncertainty and social distancing.

And that is just information from other people. What of our own information gorging? People are making themselves overly anxious by watching and reading from so many different sources. It is natural for us as human beings; especially when faced with something threatening in nature, and in the case of COVID; something new and residing in the realm of the unknown, to seek information so as to create some form of comfort and control.

Our brain propels us to want to know more; to search for whatever we believe will give us as much knowledge as possible to keep ourselves and our families safe. However, this often sends us down a path of almost fanatical searching for information that actually does us more harm than good. 

It obviously makes sense for us to arm ourselves with the information we need, in order for us to remain safe. And to keep others safe in this period of our existence when being together is dangerous, since being in close contact is how this virus spreads; from person to person.

As such — albeit it is necessary for us to have the relevant information for peace of mind and to help us stay healthy and alive — it is unnecessary for us to descend into information overload. What this does is to help make us a lot more stressed and anxious and this negative impact on our mental health can greatly affect our immune system; weakening it and making us a lot more susceptible to the very virus we are trying to find all this information about to save ourselves, our families and friends, and ultimately, our world.

I share with you what I have done in order to remain mentally intact during this pandemic. When this first became a pandemic, my usual, never-resting brain and my tendency towards being a “control freak — ie always wanting to, as much as I possibly can, control the things that directly impact my loved ones and myself — pushed me towards trying to find information from everywhere, and to follow international news almost religiously; several times of the day. That lasted for two days before my brain felt fried and I started to feel overwhelmed. So, my information-gathering and receiving behaviour has now morphed into these actions:

1. I read nothing sent to me from anywhere and from anyone; family and close friends included. So if I open a message either on WhatsApp or inbox on Facebook and it is a video or written message on the coronavirus, they are instantly deleted; well unless they are jokes about the virus, as I actually find that poking fun at something serious, helps us to, as Louise Bennett implored us “teck kin teeth kibba heart bun.”

2. I seek information that tells me clearly and succinctly what the virus is.

3. Information regarding how to keep myself and others safe, and lastly, what to do if I happen to contract the virus.

All that is anchored with news from my own country; at least once daily, to keep abreast of what is happening on the home front.

As we occupy this present state of being in these unprecedented times, we need to protect ourselves from being so saturated with information that it renders us so stressed as to become ill, and make us sitting ducks to a virus that attaches itself and lives best in weakened immune systems.

Limit your information intake, lessen that particular appetite and stay safe and sane.

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