3 Simple Ways To Cope With Information Overload and Overwhelm During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Have you felt overwhelmed lately?  A few days ago, someone I know and love was becoming depressed with information overload.  The bad news keeps rolling in on news channels, and some channels are worse than others.  Some of the news is fact-based and important to know…some not. 

Then, today, I spoke with someone who told me she felt invigorating and energized after turning off the non-stop news stream for one week. 

What we consume truly affects our states of mind and our energy levels.  What we consume affects how valuable we can be to others. It’s not that easy to focus these days, but it can be done.  

First, embrace what I call a “controlled ignorance.”  This is not the same as carelessness or an irresponsible apathy.  In fact, if you know me personally, you know that I am likely the least apathetic person you know!  I love researching and getting all the facts.  Instead, what this means is consuming enough facts and information, but only enough to be a great citizen and helpful to others.  In other words, this means being well-informed with the facts, but not to the point we are drowning in fear, tossing and turning by mixed news messages.  Again, this is neither “ignorance is bliss” nor is it a harmful apathy.  

There is a difference between being beneficially informed about a subject and being weighed down all day about it.  Having an excess of needless information won’t lend to the solution, and it will only cause more anxiety and ultimately, family harm.  For example, gathering the stats on the daily death rates for every state across the country and announcing it to the family is not helpful if this means ignoring our families all day long.  Our children need us during this time!  Loads of needless information take away value and energy that we could be adding to our own lives and to others.  Talking endlessly in circles – hours after hours – with our buddies about information neither lends to the solution nor does it make our children and other family members feel loved or safe during this time.  Yes, we do need information, but this could end up looking something like the law of diminishing returns when it comes to information consumption.  Lately, I refuse to have my thoughts and focus dictated by others – people in power – with political and personal agendas.

Second, add value to your life, your family members’ or your friends’ lives.  In whatever way you can.  When our minds are filled with thoughts of how we can help ourselves or others, there is not much room for useless information.  What fills the space in your mind?  The space in our minds is valuable real estate, yet how often do we give this “precious land” away to thoughts and to people that do not matter?  What information and message are we putting into the lives of those around us (our children, spouse, friends, etc.)?  Do people feel fearful or hopeful after they speak with you?  Do they feel life when around us? 

Adding value can come in many forms.  Simple ways to add value to your own life and others’ lives are to go for a walk or run, make a healthy dinner, send a thoughtful message to someone or buy something calming for someone.  I recently sent several of my friends some calming, chemical-free, lead-free candles (from my favorite candle store, http://www.enlightencandlesarizona.com).  How can you show someone love in a practical way?  People need love right now.  Check out my previous article on loving during these hard times.  You have the power to add value and blessing into someone else’s life.  Perhaps this comes through words, actions or giving.

Finally, maintain a future focus.  Focus, especially a future focus, helps ease information overload in the present.  Allow yourself to dream, too.  Dream of that future vacation you always wanted and the task you wanted to accomplish.  Writing down future goals and what you want to focus on also helps.  It helps to solidify our focus.  As for the immediate future, what do you want to do tonight?  It can be motivating for ourselves, our children and others in our families to have something fun or different to look forward to each day.  It can also be motivating to set a goal.  It is rewarding when we accomplish a task like finishing an organizational project or completing a creative endeavor.  Regarding focus, if you are not choosing what to focus on, others will gladly waste it for you.  Take your focus back!

Limiting what information you allow in your life, adding value to your own and others’ lives and maintaining a future focus are great ways to cope with information overload.  Onward! 

Xx Becky

This is my new coaching website!  I would appreciate you if you would simply like and share my post so that others can be helped and comforted during these hard times.  Thank you. 

Covid-19 and Wired for Connection: 3 Simple Actions to Help With Depression, Anxiety and Loneliness

All five of us in my family have been inside of the house for over four weeks now. One of us had a virus resulting in severe pneumonia for three weeks during that time (whether or not it was the c-virus is a mystery).

As an introvert, I’ve always dreamed of the day when I could stay inside for weeks and not see a soul. That is not all that it is chocked up to be, my fellow introvert friends. The fact is that we are officially missing other humans. What about you? How is this crisis affecting you?

God wired each of us for connection. Human connection is a basic human need. Studies show that individuals who are part of a culture with a strong community live the longest. While it is necessary that we stay away from each other during this quarantine to save lives, I’m afraid that there will be another crisis on the horizon now: the crisis of anxiety and depression resulting from the loneliness of isolation.

For about a decade, I studied cults and unsafe religious groups, their isolation tactics and their effects on the human psyche. I have had the opportunity to speak with dozens of parents who have “lost” their children to cults. Being in isolation from our loved ones during a quarantine is hard enough. Imagine being cut off from your family and friends for good (a permanent cut off). It is a permanent mental and physical isolation.

For parents and others who have lost their children and loved ones to destructive cults, the Covid-19 isolation experience is a walk in the park. This is the world they have been living in due to the cruel, mandated shunning of the cults.

Isolation is a challenge and at times, it is painful…whether it’s from a malicious intent or not. Different forms of isolation (such as mandated shunning) happen a lot with unsafe religious groups and coercive-control groups.

Retired Licensed Psychologist Bonnie Zieman notes,

“Disconnection from family and friends is one of the worst things that can happen to a human…Of course, much of the research [from social scientists and psychologists] has been about how to cope after the literal loss or death of loved ones, not the loss of loved ones still alive, still living near you – who are mandated by an organization to cut you out of their life.” (Emphasis added)

Zieman, Bonnie.  2018. Published by Bonnie Zieman.  Shunned: A Survival Guide. p. xii

Zieman notes that this disconnection from others causes the unpleasant primal feeling that we do not belong (ibid). This makes us feel unsafe in the world (ibid). For the parents and grandparents I have known who have lost their kids and grandkids to cults, when their quarantine is over, their isolation from their loved ones will continue. For others, they will return to their connections.

I have grown concerned during these past few weeks for the mental health of isolated individuals. While we are all trying to solve the disease dilemma by doing our part in staying home, I have pondered the risks for a crisis of anxiety, depression and loneliness. For some of individuals, they are getting a small taste of what cult isolation feels like. How are you coping mentally with this crisis? Here are three ideas to help:

  • Get bright sun early in the morning. Bright, natural light resets melatonin levels and our body clocks, leading to a better mood, better sleep and more energy.
  • Focus. I don’t mean on the TV or news! Instead of filling our minds with bombarding negative news coverage all day long, let’s find a healthy project and get our minds to hyper-focus on it (when we have time to do so).
  • Connect. Connect with someone on the phone, virtually or from a distance. If you are quarantined with family, make some time to put down electronic devices, and connect with your family members. Spending time with our pets, time in nature and in prayer also helps ease the stress of loneliness.

Cheers to better human connections soon!