Our previous article concentrated on the impact loneliness and isolation may have on your well-being during the quarantine. This current article deals with another factor that influences your mental wellness and how well you cope during this pandemic—information.

Too much of everything is bad for you. There is a massive amount of information available everywhere on the internet and social media today. The first thing you do while sitting isolated in at home is to consume all the information that comes your way. This overconsumption of information, coupled with the omnipresent uncertainty causes heightened levels of stress and anxiety to build up. This is extremely detrimental for your mental health.

The only way out of this situation is to exhibit self-control. Self-control will help you accomplish three major tasks. These include—focusing, planning, and controlling.

1. Control information intake

Stay informed, but do not over-inform yourself so much that you get overwhelmed. It is important to know what is happening around you. But understand that if you adhere to the basic precautions laid down by your local government, the chances of you contracting the disease are pretty low. Here’s what you can do to shut out unwanted information:

  • Limit the frequency with which you check for updates

Things will not get better or worse overnight. Monitoring news and social media constantly can fuel your anxiety by making this activity compulsive. Try switching to a medium of information that is limited – such as a newspaper. If you are anxious about contracting the virus from a physical newspaper, try reading the online version of it instead.

  • Stay away or limit your exposure to social media feeds

If you are already anxious, social media will only fuel your anxiety and make the activity of following social media channels counterproductive. Limit your usage of social media to about half an hour per day. Create a regimen that you can follow easily, such as limiting usage to 30 minutes every day at 3 pm.

  • Limit information intake to trusted channels

Only trust the information that you get from trustworthy sources such as the WHO, or the website of your local public health department.

  • Limit sharing information to help others

Others might be as susceptible to anxiety and fears as you are. Only share verified information from credible sources like the ones mentioned above. Do not share social media posts about the crisis.

2. Focus on what you can easily control

These are trying times. The entire world is combating a common enemy and there is not much that you can do or control at the moment. Feeling helpless is normal in such situations, as you do not know when this pandemic will end or what will happen to you or people around you.

Although it is difficult to accept this fact and many of us will start to rummage through the heap of information available on the internet to find answers to these questions, it is important to understand that you cannot get answers to everything. Channelling your energy on questions with no concrete answers or finding solutions to circumstances beyond your control is futile and will only make you feel anxious, overwhelmed and mentally drained.

Focusing on what you can easily control is the best way to manage your anxiety at this stage. Reducing your chances of getting infected is an easier thing to manage than the virulence of the coronavirus. Here’s what you can do to ensure that you stay safe:

  • Follow the directions of your local public health department
  • Honour your local government’s call for a lockdown.
  • Stay at home as much as possible, even if you are feeling fine.
  • Avoid social contact as much as possible and if you must meet someone, ensure that you stay at least 6 feet away from them.
  • Keep a soap or a hand sanitizer handy.
  • Avoid venturing out if you can. If you must go out to get essentials, ensure that you wear a mask and gloves. If you do not have a mask, don’t panic. A bandana, a buff or even a scarf around your nose and mouth will help. If you do not have gloves, use plastic bags to cover your hands when handling items in a store.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap whenever you pick up a delivery or come back from a public place.

3. Plan for what you can control

With the world economy in doldrums, it is very natural to feel overwhelmed or anxious about losing your job or having to self-quarantine or worrying about your family’s health. Here’s what you can do to try and reduce your anxiety:

  • Play some calming music and take 15 minutes to perform controlled breathing or meditation to help you relax.
  • Make a list of realistic scenarios that the coronavirus may affect or disrupt in your life. If you feel anxious or overwhelmed while writing this list, take a break and continue later.
  • List out all possible solutions to these problems. Understand that no answer that you write today will be perfect, and the answer you have right now is currently the best answer to address that situation.
  • Ensure that you only focus on things that you can control.
  • After you are done, chart out a plan of action. Once complete, keep it in a place which is easily accessible and do not go back to it unless circumstances listed in it arise.

It may be difficult for many of you to follow these suggestions, just because the information is available and addictive. However, self-control can go a long way in ensuring that you consume just the right amount of information to stay in touch and informed and spend the rest of your time doing something relaxing or productive.

Our next article will focus on what you can do with all the free time you have on your hands after reducing your information intake. Stay tuned!