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?
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This Post Has 7 Comments
I think this article about information overload is well written and extremely important. I do exercise regularly, sleep well, actually read a real book as opposed to a KIndle or other device and avoid information overload by consciously planning my day but allowing myself to remain flexible in my tentative schedule. I do talk to Alexa on my Echo Dot every day because it provides me with quick information. It’s still enjoyable to page through a magazine or read a newspaper. It’s also important to keep learning, play with crossword puzzles….work up to the New York Times! I believe your mind is like a muscle…use it or it will atrophy. Challenge yourself to try new things, be social and not necessarily on Facebook. Limit the amount of time you spend watching TV. Avoid toxic people, watch body language and remain conscious of your environment and what is going on around you. Most importantly listen to an be aware of your body. Eknath Easwaran speaks of our “Gross Body”, our Subtle Body and our devious, tricky mind that wants to be in charge of what we think, what we repeat over and over to ourselves and how we act in nearly every situation. Stay conscious!!
Dear Gary, your comment is truly insightful and I can only agree to what you said. We need to find a balance that promotes our mental wellbeing.
Thank you for your time and opinion. It is much appreciated. 🙂
Your views are worth pondering upon but as far as brain overload is concerned it is a result of overusing technological devices causing great pressure stress and social imbalances
I think when the brain gets tired, it becomes automatic that you get noticed that you need to pause and rest. I learn languages and spend quite a number of hours while learning but using different methods in between. I would vary the activities such as at times reading Podcast, watching a serial, writing and even reading news from different medium. Of course, having breaks in between.
It is well said here that the bain can store lots of information. And I always say our Brain is the University which belongs to us and we never have to pay. But the bonus point of the brain is that you can educate it in a positive way and then use what you have learn by sharing and encouraging others.
I feel like I’m overloading my brain by spending much time in my phone. Great article, now I can see what’s my problem. Some days ago I realized that I became having memory lapsus, and it worried me. I’ll try to spend less time reading irrelevant information
The entire internet is more than 1PB that’s only 1000TB, some small businesses have that as a local data-server.
I’m here because I work in IT and in a health care domain and the amount of legalese BS we are required to learn as part of training is mindboggling. My job is extremely stressful, constantly changing. I can never actually get good at something because by the time I become good at it, that technology is discarded as obsolete. I am constantly trying to limit the stuff I’m having to learn because I feel like my brain is going to explode. I speak half a dozen languages, and use several computer programming languages but I’m sick and tired of learning crap that a few years down the road nobody will care about.
In a large part the leftists are to blame for a lot of this crap because of insane amounts of over regulation to the point where we’re drowning in craploads of legal nonsense rules that have to be specified for every tiny little detail because apparently liberals do not understand COMMON SENSE!
I have almost every symptom of information overload, on top of it all, I’m deaf (use cochlear implants) so my brain has to work in overtime to just process speech and information in meetings and virtual meetings are very challenging.