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Overwhelmed by Information Overload? (March 2020)

FEELING OVERWHELMED with all the information that is being fed to us via the News and Social Media pages?

This can be catastrophic for people who already struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety, stress or depression.

Even those who are normally not affected by any of these mental health issues may already be showing signs that they are becoming distressed by the continual broadcast of updates and news of the spread of COVID-19.

These broadcasts are essential for information and to how to best look after ourselves, especially when obtained from reputable sources, but limiting our exposure to news and social media updates may be a sensible way of quelling those feelings of fear and anxiety that we might be experiencing.

PLANNING AND RESTRICTING your viewing times are really important steps in maintaining strong mental health while still gaining enough information on how to act, or in understanding what restrictions are taking place.

The news is repeated regularly enough for each of us to decide which newscast is the most suitable for us.

There is NO NECESSITY to have the news on 24hrs a day!

We do not necessarily need to hear news as it breaks; but scheduling times for regular updates during the day will make sure that you don’t miss out on any vital information.

In order that we keep up to date with developments and maintain our mental stability, choosing a time first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day and later in the evening to watch the news, or your favourite current affairs program will restrict your constant exposure to the stressful situation that we find ourselves in.

The problem with allowing yourself to be exposed to constant updates about the spread of COVID-19 and the restrictions that are being put into place by the Government, is that information is constantly being repeated, and for some, this means a constant reinforcement for any anxiety this situation is causing.

So, schedule your times for updating yourself on COVID-19, and in between these times change channel and watch something light-hearted or listen to your favourite music or read a book or learn a new skill.

Avoiding late night news bulletins will especially help those who have sleep issues and it would be more advisable to watch the main news no later than 6pm, and then choose an early morning bulletin rather than to stay up until midnight and expect to be able to sleep!

SOCIAL MEDIA can also be a source of added stress.

It is always great to catch up with friends online to see how they are going, but again, if you feel bombarded with negative posts, schedule a certain time in the day to access your social media feeds.

REMEMBER approximately 15% of all Australians between the age of 16-85 are affected by anxiety and at the moment this figure is likely to have increased.

If you are concerned that you or someone else is becoming highly anxious about the current situation, please reach out for help.

Signs of anxious behaviour in our current COVID-19 situation include excessive distress, sleep disturbance and increased use of alcohol or drugs.

These run alongside exacerbated obsessive or compulsive behaviour.

Currently we are asked not to participate in social situations, so being aware of excessive behaviour is important.

Overthinking or dramatizing situations is another sign of anxiety.

Irritability, impatience, anger and nervousness are also key signs of feeling anxious or being overwhelmed; along with confusion, indecisiveness and a racing mind.

Excessive exposure to stressful news covering the current pandemic may ultimately lead to a panic attack; a sudden onset of intense apprehension or fear.

PACE YOUR EXPOSURE TO NEWS AND SOCIAL MEDIA coverage and remember to take a break from it to keep a balanced and healthy mind.

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