Information overload takes place when we are exposed to too much irrelevant information. This leads to an unnecessary overstimulation of the brain.
It is no longer a secret that the human brain is amazing and has an unmatchable power that continues to keep scientists and neurologists interested. But with the constant flow of information in today’s world, the brain can get too much overstimulation and this is where the concept of information overload comes into play.
In fact, recent research suggests that the human brain is capable of storing as much information as the entire Internet, or more precisely, a petabyte of information. Furthermore, researchers have discovered that a brain cell uses 26 different ways to encode information. Isn’t that amazingly shocking?
But while this ability makes us feel as if we have superpowers, researchers believe that too much information puts our brain’s health in danger, resulting in an information overload.
Information Pollution: A New Challenge for Millennials?
Over time, information pollution or the exposure to multiple environmental sources of data leads to the overstimulation of the brain. Neurons get overloaded with data, numbers, deadlines, targets to be met, projects to be completed or simply useless details, and all this unnecessary information can ultimately destroy them. Consequently, a stressed and overloaded brain is at high risk of dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases).
As if the information we are forced to deal with at work is not enough, we read irrelevant news, magazines, online posts, exposing ourselves to an informational attack. All these scatter a certain general anxiety about the human brain’s ability to deal with so much information when we are sensitively limited.
“Technology is so much fun, but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge.”
Daniel J. Boorstin
Although being informed is never bad, the overstimulation of the brain can have the reverse effects. In other words, instead of becoming smarter, our brain’s ability to learn and engage in problem-solving thinking will decrease.
“Once capacity is surpassed, additional information becomes noise and results in a decrease in information processing and decision quality”
Mental and Physical Symptoms That Indicate an Information Overload
Everything must be done in moderation and so should the absorption of knowledge. Otherwise, it can severely affect our mental and physical well-being in the following ways:
- Increased blood pressure
- Low mood or energy
- A decreased cognitive performance which ultimately affects your decision-making skills
- Finding it difficult to concentrate
- Impaired vision
- Diminished productivity
- Strong compulsion to check emails, apps, voice mails, etc.
- Vivid dreams
All these symptoms are the signs of information overload.
What Shall We Do to Avoid Information Overload?
We are undoubtedly curious and hungry for information as it is easy to access anytime and anywhere. Whatever idea pops up into our mind, we want details about it and we check as many sources as we can.
But knowing the risks we expose ourselves to, we should opt for strategies & solutions that will ensure a normal function of our brain.
1. Filter the information
Read and listen only to the information you consider useful for today or if it enriches your knowledge. Otherwise, ignore irrelevant information like news, gossips, talk-shows, etc.
2. Select the sources
It is always great to hear different opinions, but more does not mean better or truer. Select only the reliable sources and stick to them.
3. Set limits
Is it really necessary to read the news every morning or update your posts daily on Facebook? Set some time limit and do not spend more than 10 minutes a day checking your social media or the gossip you hear about your favorite celebrity.
4. Prioritize your activities
Some activities are more important than the others. Do not overload your schedule with plenty of activities that require your maximum attention. First, finish the most important one and if time allows, do the others.
5. Choose your conversations
Some people can leave you emotionally or mentally drained. Some may like to talk too much and give you as many details as possible while others will simply pass their problems to you. Your time and energy are limited, so spend them wisely.
If some tasks are out of your league or you feel like drowning in work, do not be afraid to refuse. An extra amount of work will reduce the efficiency and quality of your cognitive performance. This, in turn, will not bring the results you expect.
7. Do the right thing!
Year after year, the number of young people who suffer from stroke increases. According to scientists, one of the explanations of this worrying phenomenon is the overstimulation of young people’s brains because they have too many responsibilities.
Thus, experts suggest that we should re-energize our neurons and increase their resistance to damage by doing 4 simple things: physical exercise, sleep, hydration and outdoor activities.
8. Spend some time alone
What else can refresh your brain better than spending some time alone? Give yourself a break and put your thoughts into order by simply doing nothing, away from the noises, Internet and people.
Are you experiencing the symptoms of information overload? If yes, what methods do you use to find a psychological equilibrium?