One of the major differences between the pandemics centuries ago and the current COVID-19 pandemic is the abundance of information available. With the swipe of a finger on a smartphone, we can gain access to the latest statistics on new cases, deaths and recoveries, new “studies” regarding the most effective way to wear masks, and indeed the best types of masks to use. We also have access to information such as how to make hand sanitisers and much more information coming from official (read Governmental) channels and others.
Of course, there are just as many unofficial channels spouting conspiracy theories surrounding the origins of the virus, the purpose behind it (some swear it is for population control), and the competing vaccines. Regarding the vaccine itself, there are those who are in full support of the jab, saying it is the final solution to the problem that has plagued the entire world for the past year. Then you have the anti-vaxxers who refuse to have anything to do with any kind of vaccine, and then there are the other videos showing people that have developed convulsions and other significant health problems, some of whom have even died, after allegedly taking one of the vaccines.
We have had people promoting cures for it, from televangelists promoting drinking a liquid silver solution a year ago (which is deadly, by the way), and “everyday people” who claim they had the disease, showing off the collection of herbs they took to clear it up.
Whom do you believe? Sometimes it is hard to choose, with so many options out there. In most countries, the health authorities publish figures every day, showing the “state of the game”. When those numbers go down, they pat themselves on the back saying, “we’ve got this thing under control.” When they go back up, it becomes rather embarrassing to say “we spoke too soon”. These officials often advise us that they have the most accurate information based on what comes in through the organisations they have set up to deal with the matter, and that is what we should rely on in terms of the figures and national health and safety protocols.
Clinical psychologist, Krisnan Hurdle, outlines the effect too much information can have on our well-being. “Computers were modeled on human neurology, and the same way the Random Access Memory (RAM) or Read-Only Memory (ROM) can get overloaded and have difficulty processing information, our brains are the same way. If we are bombarded with too many things to do or process at one time, we get frustrated and confused and become unable to function. This in turn sends up our stress and anxiety levels and we “go blank”. Like computers, we cannot process more than five or seven pieces of information consciously.
“Information comes to us through all five senses. We can store it subconsciously, but for us to become aware of it, it must go through our conscious mind, which mostly operates through what we see, hear and feel.”
How do we manage it all?
Hurdle stated that multitasking is not the answer, because “even if we try to, say, drive a car and drink coffee at the same time, it is only one of those tasks we will do effectively. I would say, slow down, do one thing at a time or do tasks in small pieces so you can do them more quickly. It is also important to take breaks so you can regain your composure and gather your thoughts on the given task before proceeding with it again. It is also a good idea to determine what you need to do, make a game plan, and go after it. Concentrate on one task at a time, and when that is finished, move onto the next one.”
Regarding social media, Hurdle said, “When I speak to my clients, I advise them to limit their time on social media and decide which sites they want to focus on. Too many people switch from Facebook to Twitter, then to Instagram, and before they know it, they wonder where the time disappeared to! What you can do is set yourself a time limit, say half an hour, and use an alarm to notify you when the time is up. During that time, you can choose where you want to go, respond to anything you see, and so on, but once that alarm goes off, that is it. Get back to what you were doing before, whether you were resting or working.”
This article appears in the February 22 edition of COVID Weekly. Read the full publication here.