Even at the best of times, it is easy to get overloaded with information. However, whilst we hear a lot about the symptoms of information overload, we don’t often hear about how to detox from it. During the time of the coronavirus, recognizing when we might need an information detox is even more important.

In this, post, we will look at 4 signs you might need an information detox and how to do it.

What Is Information Overload?

Information overload refers to the overstimulation of the brain that takes place from exposure to excessive amounts of irrelevant information. As powerful as the brain is, too much information can flood it and even drive out knowledge.

Information overload can decrease our ability to process information and reduce the quality of our decision making. It can also affect both our physical and mental well-being. For example, it can lead to;

  • raised blood pressure
  • depression and low mood
  • a lack of energy
  • insomnia & tiredness
  • reduced cognitive power and performance
  • reduced productivity

4 Signs You Need an Information Detox

As you can see, information overload can be damaging to our health. During the time of coronavirus, this is heightened due to the nature of information propagating across every area of society.

To help overcome this, we outline 4 ways to notice you need an information detox and how to achieve it.

1. You feel in a heightened state of anxiety

As tempting as it can be to stay informed about the latest on the coronavirus, this can be damaging to our mental health.

Moreover, spending too much time on social media can be toxic and bad for your health at the best of times. Even verified news can be harmful during a time of crisis due to the nature of what is being reported on.

When we feel anxious, small things can feel overwhelming. As such, it is important to take control of our interactions with new media if we are to protect our mental wellbeing.

How to detox:

If you find yourself feeling in a heightened sense of anxiety, take note of how long you have been spending on social media platforms or news websites. Does the length of time you spend on these platforms seem to have a correlative effect on your mood?

If you feel it does, a good way to manage this is by setting daily limits. These can be controlled with willpower alone or enforced by apps which can be used to block sites in a variety of ways.

2. Social media can be isolating

Numerous studies confirm the link between the use of social media and isolation. Whilst the coronavirus and social distancing requires us to communicate more using digital means, this doesn’t necessarily mean social media is the best way to do this.

Typically, sites like Facebook and Twitter portray idealized versions of reality, which can foster the fear of missing out (FOMO) so bad for our mental health.

How to detox:

Once again, the key way to deal with this is to detox. Distraction-blocking apps can be a great way to do this again. However, ultimately, focusing on reducing the time we spend on social media can be effective.

Nevertheless, if one reason we are drawn to look at social media daily is to feel connected with others, we can also try to implement new communication channels.

This could include chatting more on Skype, Zoom, or Jitsi. Or it could be playing games online with friends. Alternatively, you could send a daily favorite poem or quote to people we care about.

3. You don’t know what to believe

In the time of the coronavirus, this is even more apparent with rumors aplenty spreading like wildfire across the internet. If you are not ready for an information detox, then you can deal with this by checking the source, cross-referencing with what reputed organizations like the WHO say.

How to detox:

It is also a good idea to take a step back before reposting distressing things. By doing this, we protect the well-being of others who may not have heard of an information detox.

To detox from untrustworthy information, you should avoid social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. If you feel a desire to find out information, you can go directly to a source you trust. This way you stay in control of what you read much more than letting algorithms decide what you see.

4. We struggle to be present in the moment

Whether it was before coronavirus lockdown or after, people have long been absorbed in their phones. Indeed, a common sign that we are suffering from information overload is the compulsion to check emails, apps, and social media. When we do this, we need a detox.

When we are on the phone, it is hard to be wholly aware of our surroundings. As such, we can become detached from the reality around us. This can reduce our attention spans and our ability to focus and have a negative impact on our wellbeing.

How to detox:

To deal with this we can prevent access to our phones. This can be by physically leave our phone outside of the room we are in. We can also use apps or will-power.

However, we can also be even more proactive when we recognize this sign of needing to detox from information. You can learn to focus on the present by practicing meditation. Meditation can also be used as a tool for anxiety relief.

An information detox can be useful at any time

During normal times, it is easy to become overloaded with information and need a detox. With the coronavirus forcing us to spend more time indoors, we need to be even more wary of this tendency. Be vigilant for the signs outlined above and try as many of the information detox techniques as possible.

Lottie Miles, M.A.

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