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Can Remaining Informed About Covid-19 Effect Your Mental Health?

5 Signs You May Be Watching Too Much Media About Covid-19 Image by: Victoria Heath, Unsplash During our health crisis, we may find ourselves relying upon television and media sources more than ever to remain informed.  Doing so provides us with daily updates. Though, some information brings about difficult feelings when seeing the number of individuals […]

5 Signs You May Be Watching Too Much Media About Covid-19

Image by: Victoria Heath, Unsplash

During our health crisis, we may find ourselves relying upon television and media sources more than ever to remain informed.  Doing so provides us with daily updates. Though, some information brings about difficult feelings when seeing the number of individuals infected with Covid-19 and numbers of those who have lost their lives fighting the virus.  When significant local and global events occur, we depend upon media outlets to provide essential information. What we learn has the potential to influence our thoughts and feelings. Further, the information can serve as a council that advises our choices and directly impacts our behaviors. Thus, when encouraged to stay at home to help slow the spread of Covid-19 and assist our healthcare facilitates to reduce being overwhelmed with patients, we rely upon news and other media platforms to disseminate what is required of us to remain safe and helpful to our communities.  However, in an effort to be informed, we can find ourselves consuming a large quantity of information.  Some of this information is instructive, and at times are segments that highlight the goodwill found amongst people.  Other information educates us on areas that continue to warrant our concern.  These particulars can create fears and anxieties and can result in additional outcomes. 

Should one reduce engaging in media regarding the coronavirus?  Consider the following when contemplating:

1. You Lack Interest in Watching Other Programming

You may not be an individual attracted to media.  Yet, recently you find yourself compelled to media because you would like to remain informed. Finding yourself consumed with programming about Covid-19 and feeling rigid in your ability to engage in alternative media material may evince that you have become fixated on information regarding the virus.  Displaying flexibility across areas of functioning in life is adaptive, where holding an inflexible stance can limit options. Similarly, if one is finding themselves locked in on information regarding Covid-19, one may consider taking a break from such media exposure.

2. You Watch with Horror 

If watching first responders on their routes retrieving patients from their homes for care, seeing cooling trailers lined outside of hospitals and listening to individuals describe their experience of losing loved ones to the virus have you glued to your screen, this is normal.  Most have never experienced an event like this that has required this sort of community and global response. The novelty of this experience would evoke a desire to remain informed. However, if when watching media there is a feeling of being in shock, as evidenced by feeling high levels of anxiety, increased breathing rate, nauseated and other experiences: (https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-shock/basics/art-20056620) one may find themselves overwhelmed by what is being viewed.  Such feelings can suggest that one is struggling to process the information in an emotionally efficient manner.  Finding yourself lacking words to describe your emotional experience can suggest that what you are seeing feels traumatic.  At this time, consider discontinue watching. Reaching out to a trusted individual for emotional support to discuss what you have seen and your emotions that you experienced is helpful. Taking time to journal what you are feeling is equally beneficial.  This process can help place words to your feelings, can support digesting the emotions evoked and reduce the impact of trauma.  

3. Feeling Powerlessness, Hopeless and Defeated

Because of the precarious nature of this virus, individuals may feel that one is powerless in remaining safe. Knowing that one can be infected while being asymptomatic can equally cause stress and concern.  Following stay at home orders without an exact end date can create feelings of having a lack of control over one’s situation. Despite what activities take place within the home, one may feel defeated and lack focus and direction.  If these feelings overshadow your day and persist more days than not, one can be experiencing signs of depressed affect that may warrant attention.

4. Unable to Talk About Anything Else

Do you find that the majority of your conversations include current facts regarding Covid-19.  Do you use time conversing with others to share data regarding the virus or process your feelings pertaining to the pandemic?  When opportunities present itself to engage in various topics, are you participating?  If others desire to discuss interests outside of the pandemic, do you feel frustrated, agitated, angered or restless?  Finding yourself unable to shift your thoughts and conversations from the virus and losing patience for others who are able to consider other subject matter can suggest that taking downtime from absorbing information regarding the virus will be useful. 

5. Having Anxious Dream And Nightmares 

Freud believed that dreams were the “royal road to the unconscious” (1900).  Challenges with processing feelings caused by this pandemic can cause individuals to struggle to fall asleep due to anxiety.  Though, those obtaining sleep may not be doing so soundly.  Current research is exploring the impact Covid-19 is having upon one’s dreams with recent articles of interest found within the links below. Experiencing vivid dreams, ones that feel bizarre upon waking may require time to conceptualize the meanings. Dreams containing anxious content, threats to one’s integrity and experiencing nightmares suggests that one’s unconscious is working to comprehend feelings that may be less likely to be on the surface and acknowledged.  Having dreams and thinking about their meaning can be interesting; however, experiencing perturbing dreams that create anxious feelings and nightmares is an additional sign that one may be emotionally overloaded.

To enhance the quality of our choices, we depend upon media outlets that we trust will furnish quality, accurate information. When crises happen in our world, it is important to determine how much emotional resources one has to absorb the information that is available.  For some remaining informed acts as a fuel to motivate, to take action and become involved. For others, consuming information pertaining to crises lead to a feeling of being depleted resulting in a desire to withdraw.  And for a number of individuals, remaining abreast causes overwhelming feelings, a sense of being in shock that makes it difficult to comprehend the events taking place.  Locating yourself emotionally prior to viewing can provide an opportunity to gauge whether it is a good time to watch information driven media, whether it’s a good time to take a break or whether you require additional support.  

If interested in learning about mental health supports provided during Covid-19 via telehealth services to discuss your feelings with professionals: tune into Ms. Danielle Blessing Taylor and myself discussing how one can access and the benefits of telehealth services on “A Healthy Mind” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L3_hA7l1wc&feature=youtu.be

References:

Freud, S. (1900). The interpretation of dreams. S.E., 4-5.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dream-catcher/202004/covid-inspired-dreams
https://www.psycom.net/anxiety-dreams-coronavirus
https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-covid-19-dreams/
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