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It’s easy if also painful to measure one aspect of the misery that the pandemic has spread across America over the last two years: by counting the number of lives lost. But there’s another aspect to the misery that’s much harder to quantify: the toll on our collective mental health. Medical doctors and psychologists report everything from alcohol abuse to depression is on the rise. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the ill effects children are enduring.
Writing for HuffPost, Anika Nayak acknowledges that an overload of information can be part of the problem. “Staying informed about COVID-19 is critical, but it can also be triggering,” she says. “Between new variants like omicron cropping up and thousands of people getting sick each day, the all-encompassing stress of the ‘new normal’ we’ve been navigating can be hard to take in.”
So how do you strike a balance between staying informed and being bombarded with too much information? Nayak shares advice from a number of experts on the subject.
“Prioritize protocols in your local community.”
With Covid-19 literally affecting the entire world, much of the information we’re exposed to pertains to all of America and even other countries. Focus on gathering information directly relevant to where you live. That flow of information will undoubtedly contain all you need to know about general breakthroughs in new therapies and variant strains. Nayak sums it up neatly: “Keeping tabs on the levels of spread in your community will help guide the right decisions for you and your family.”
“Be mindful of your general COVID news exposure.”
There’s only so much emotional energy anyone can give to any issue. People report that after a while care and concern begins to turn to cynicism and emotional lethargy. “While staying informed,” Nayak says, “understand that it’s OK to skip or take time off from content you find particularly distressing or triggering. Setting boundaries ahead of time will help limit your exposure to the influx of alarming COVID-related headlines.
“Reserve some space for focusing on the positive.”
There’s a difference between having a positive attitude while being fully informed, and toxic positivity which leads you to ignore feelings about the reality of a situation.
It’s a delicate balance to strike, but they key may be to focus on articles and news updates that also include information that helps you stay in control. “It’s common for news stories to focus on the disastrous impact of the pandemic, which can incite fear and helplessness,” writes Nayak. “While it’s important to be aware of the reality of everything going on, it might help to be more selective about your media consumption and to surround yourself with uplifting, solution-based stories that bring you joy.”
At the beginning of 2022, it may seem like the pandemic will never end. That impression is false, and now is a good time to begin balancing your flow of information so that you truly believe “normal” life will return.