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You are here: News » Archived News » How to maintain mental health...when there’s information overload

How to maintain mental health…when there’s information overload

Information Overload

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How often do we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed?
In busy or stressful situations it can seem like there’s continual noise, with something extra regularly being added to the list, each demanding urgent attention. Upon further investigation, there are often things that can wait, be delegated or be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Some items may require input from a third party before they can progress.
Do what you can and pass them on, freeing yourself to either relax or move on to other matters for a while. Seeking assistance, advice or help online is frequently an automatic default, as there’s a plethora of information available to access. But wading through masses of data, some of it conflicting, some of it unverifiable, can add to the stress and pressure.

When researching various points online it can be almost impossible to confirm which responses are correct, viable or simply opinions and there may be many conflicting sources to choose from.
Selecting credible experts can take time but it’s important to avoid ‘rabbit holes’, where you view every response or digression, so becoming submerged in information overload. Plus, an influx of information can feel overwhelming and prompt a flurry of urgent activity. But random activity and starting several things at once can result in confusion.

Much time can be wasted unless you make careful notes prior to moving on. Otherwise there’s a danger of having several half-finished tasks and no clarity about where you’re up to with any of them.

Limit the time you spend on the web, social media and news.
It can be tempting to frequently google what’s happening, whether it’s reviewing the latest updates, doing research or investigating various symptoms, but this can result in wasted hours scrolling through a miscellany of feeds, often revisiting old ground, so causing heightened levels of overload and anxiety.

Commit to two or three specific check-in times a day and notice how much your time management and mental health improves.
Walking away from your device is important. Have regular breaks throughout the day as well as ‘no device’ zones, like meal times or after 9 pm. Charge your phone outside the bedroom, maybe on the landing, and get used to sleeping device free. Allow your mind and body to wind down and not always be running in hyper-vigilant mode.

Supporting good mental health includes having varied interests and taking breaks, whilst allowing time for food, fun and good self-care. Enjoying walks and time in nature, either alone or with others, is a good way to detach from the day’s stresses, pressures and unwind.

Delegating and accepting offers of help are good decisions.
If no offers are forthcoming, ask and let others help. They may not do things in the same way as you, and that’s fine, maybe even coming up with better ideas and suggestions which improve your situation and reduce your sense of overwhelm. Equally remember, if you’re quietly plodding along others may think that you’re coping well or prefer to do things yourself. Also, don’t forget that others may be experiencing information overload too.

Helpful friends and family may feel that by encouraging you to undertake certain tasks or do what you ‘should’ or ‘ought’ to be doing they’re supporting your success. Be gracious and appreciative of their input and advice, but then step back and reflect on how this affects your personal plan, your future goals and aspirations. You’re the one who has to live with the consequences of your decisions and whatever the personal cost may be.

Get over imposter syndrome. You may experience pressure to constantly prove yourself and demonstrate that you can do anything and everything asked of you. So many information sources show people seamlessly moving from one task to the next, mastering technology and proving how competent and capable they are. But these are often adverts and promos, designed to ‘sell’ a particular product, person or technique. They’re rarely ‘real’ life. In times of information overload it can be helpful to list and prioritise how busy you are, to identify what’s incoming and what needs to be done.

A list can clear the mind of constant chatter, manage overload and allow more control. And it’s satisfying to review it later and cross off items as they’re done.

Learn to tune in to your personal warning signs of being mentally overloaded.
Perhaps your sleeping becomes disrupted or you lose your sense of humour, appetite or libido. Then you can intercept and remedy these before they become too serious. When you get to know yourself better you can implement the most efficient ways to support your mental health and manage the dangers of information overload.

Susan Leigh
Susan Leigh, Lifestyle Therapy

Susan Leigh MNCH (ACC)

South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer and media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.

She’s author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon and with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.

To order a copy or for more information, articles, or to make contact please call 0161 928 7880 or visit www.lifestyletherapy.net

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