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Information overload and how to handle it

Wednesday, 18th March, 2020 1:09pm

When information overload is chronic, we end up living in a state of unresolved stress and anxiety.

With the current news cycles, unlimited access to advice, academic knowledge and expert opinion it’s easy for people to start to feel overwhelmed. The current situation of inevitable information overload is inescapable and may get worse.

It can very quickly become overwhelming and exhausting to deal with that level of output. We can eventually start to lose the ability to separate the fact from fiction which is why it’s important that people use reputable and trustworthy news sources when trying to take care of themselves and our loved ones.

As more complex, medical information is used to describe the latest outbreak mixed with the information overload we have a lot less time to process and our brains can panic and often times freeze leaving us feeling stuck, overwhelmed and ultimately even more stressed.

Here’s my top tips on managing this kind of stress.

1. Get the right information

No one wants to be less informed, they want to be better informed. Look to reputable websites for information and updates like www.hse.ie and not from social media feeds.

2. Self care

Like all situations in life, you need to take care of yourself first. You are then in a much better position to help those around you. Think of it like being on a flight and that you should always tend to your own mask first.

3. Exercise

The free drug without any side effects! We have been advised that it is okay to go walking outside. Get out in the open fresh air while practising social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Exercise is the treatment of choice for mild to moderate anxiety. I always recommend it to my patients. Walking is the great equaliser, You can do it into your 90s.

4. Talk

Whether about your concerns to a best friend, a spouse or a parent. This can sometimes be as effective as attending a counsellor or psychologist. When we bottle things up, our worries can seem out of proportion. Use social media for this purpose, reach out on Facetime or Skype but stay connected.

5. Sleep

Try to be mindful of sleep hygiene. Put away your phone and turn off the computer. It’s important to have a wind-down period before you go to sleep. Avoid caffeine after 6pm.

6. Practice mindfulness

Whether you’re using an app on your phone or just taking 10 minutes by yourself, there’s no better way to quiet your mind. Pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. You’ve got to practice it to perfect the art.

7. Eat

Fuelling your body with good nutritious food helps you to cope. Make good food choices, take time to eat and enjoy your food.

8. Have a mantra

When things appear overwhelming, have your own mantra to soothe yourself like ‘I can, I can and I will’.

9. Try a probiotic

Zenflore contains the 1714-Serenitas culture which has been shown to reduce stress-related behaviours and improve stress responses and cognitive function.

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