Coronavirus, Mental Health and the Internet
I am a pretty calm person and I sleep really well, right up to the point when the cat comes and sits on my head to let me know it's breakfast time, but over the last few days I have been a bit jittery, finding it hard to fall asleep, and waking up in the night with all the thoughts swirling around in my head. I thought that might be a fairly normal response to a world-wide pandemic, but I have discovered it is not that - it's the internet.
A few years ago I decided to eschew the news. I discovered that not consuming news in any form makes for a very calm life. I switched the car radio over to Classic FM and only ever switched back to the news when opera came on. Not consuming news doesn't cause you to become an ill-informed person, because lots of people love to discuss the news, and if you profess ignorance, they love to tell you all about it. Occasionally I'd hear about something I was actually interested in and go and look it up on-line. My alternative news sources were magazines with in-depth analytical articles, and thoughtful websites with intelligent commenters, such as Ecosophia. Honestly, I didn't miss much, except the endless reiteration of daily soundbites. Same with the internet - I read a handful of sites when they updated, occasionally wrote on my blog, checked facebook once a week or so.
Fast forward to coronavirus. Suddenly, like everyone else I am checking all the websites all the time to find out what is going on, feverishly trying to keep up with all the information on facebook and consuming all the news all the time, up to and including reading facebook on my phone in bed.
And that's when I turned into an anxious, jittery person who can't sleep. When I realised what was going I switched everything off and took a deep breath. Here is the thing. I am as prepared as I can be. I've taken all the actions I think I should take. Reading all of the internet, all of the fear, all of the anger and frustration, just makes me sleepless and worried which suppresses the immune system. Not such a clever way to prep. So now I'm back to my old ways. I'm out in the garden, plotting my next novel, reading a book in the sun, walking the dog, talking to the neighbour over the fence cooking with my daughter, and reading books by long-dead people just before bed. Now I can sleep and take life as it comes again, and spend time talking to my mum on the phone which is more important than just about anything.
So, I am really interested to know how others here are faring - are you finding the same difficulty as i was, whipping yourselves into a frenzy on the internet? Or is it the other way around, that knowing and discussing all the news makes you feel calmer and more in control? I haven't completely left the internet, obviously - I do consume the news, for half an hour or so in the middle of the day when my energy is really high, and here I am, talking to you all. It's 9.30pm on Tuesday night and I'm about to shut down the internet and go and read for an hour before bed.
Stay well all xx