Keep coronavirus informed but not alarmed

By Sarah Craig

As we try to keep up with news of the coronavirus we’re confronted by social media timelines scrolling off into infinity, news pages updating every few seconds and notifications inundate our phones. Not only are we facing a pandemic, we are also facing an infodemic.

While it’s important to stay abreast of news to be informed and prepared, we also need to look after our own mental health and wellbeing.

I’m no mental health expert but I’ve adopted a few practical tactics that’s allowing me to stay informed but not alarmed, be productive in my work and coping well with my family in the period of lockdown. In case these tips are useful to others, I thought I’d share them.

• Limit exposure to media and social media by checking the news and social sites early in the morning, at lunchtime and again in the evening – not constantly throughout the day
• Set a timer to limit the amount of time spent on each site – no more than 10 mins and stick to it
• Selectively mute and block people, words and hashtags on Twitter. Now is the time to review and cull follower lists – COVID-19 presses a lot of hot buttons for some and facing a hellscape desktop screen should be avoided
• Stay adequately informed about the pandemic by viewing a few trusted sources – e.g. Australian Government Department of Health, ABC website and radio, The Conversation, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald
• Limit the amount of COVID news shared with others unless from a trusted source – there’s a lot of misinformation out there and don’t add fuel to the fire or share posts that have already done the rounds
• During the evening, use tech solutions (e.g. Screen Time and Off the Grid) across smart devices to limit the amount of time and selected apps available to view
• Get over FOMO attitude and turn off other social media sites – there’s too much going on and it’s important to stay on top of what’s really relevant professionally and personally
• In the evening, stay in contact with friends and family using video apps such as Zoom, FaceTime and Snapchat. Try to avoid using Twitter or you’ll be sucked back into the coronavirus news vortex
• At weekends, if possible, significantly limit the amount of time spent on social media and news apps and try to detox from coronavirus posts, try to talk about something else, coming back online around 4.30pm on Sunday
• Go for regular walks, keep at least 1.5m away from others, sleep, and do lots of hand washing.

I’d be really interested to know if others are using similar or different methods to keep coronavirus informed but not alarmed.