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

Day by day coping for me. I won't be working this week except for myself in the garden and on my house renovation. I will be doing some shopping for a friend who's husband has MS and is very immune compromised. Shelves here were stripped of toilet paper, and some canned foods. People are still bulk shopping, but I hope the toilet paper supply has caught up with the demand as I have two rolls left, so I am exploring other alternatives. I have read of several and since I have a hand held bidet for the cleanup, I think I am not going to worry too much about TP. I have a fair amount of food in store and since I don't use processed foods, nothing I need to buy was in short supply. I too haven't paid too much attention to the news as I hear it all from those around me, so I don't feel ill informed and I sleep well for the most part.

Glad you're sleeping well, Kay:) I am thinking that staying away from the shops is also good for mental health. Australians have gone crazy with the panic buying, shelves are bare everywhere. It's all a bit insane, as Australia has so much food, no-one need run out, it's just that deliveries can't keep up with demand, and people are panicking. It must be very concerning for people like your friend with MS who are relying on others for help. Supermarkets have introduced rationing for many items - pasta, rice, flour, toilet paper, hand sanitiser, and now milk, eggs, frozen vegetables and minced meat as well, and supermarket staff are being abused by angry shoppers who want to stock up. I keep thinking that surely, everybody who wants six months' worth of canned beans has them by now and supplies can get back to normal, but no..

I ran some errands to day and noticed that my favorite store was rationing toilet paper. They had been cleaned out last week. Canned goods were still depleted, but there was plenty of fresh food. All you have to do is cook it. I still don't understand they panic buying. One of my other errands took me to a dry goods store and their shelves were absolutely wiped. I guess people finally decided that they could cook dry beans.

It's funny, isn't it? I wonder how many of those dried beans will actually get cooked though, and how many of them will languish in the back of pantries for two years before finally getting thrown out?

Yeah, it's certainly the internet that does it to me, especially the live blogs on the major news sites. I don't use Facebook or really any social media, so I have no idea how bad that is, but the live blogs are bad enough. I'm lucky enough to be able to work from home, so I'll get working, and 'forget' there's anything going on in the outside world, and then I'll take a break and look at the news, and a kind of heaviness comes over me. It's almost tangible.

Here in Nova Scotia, lots of stuff is selling out, but it's not as bad as reported in other comments in this forum, but the virus is starting to spread so I imagine that will come. Thankfully the Canadian has stepped in with financial aid for those put out of work because of the virus, but there's still much to keep an eye on.

I hear you on that 'heaviness'. For me I think it's an adrenaline response, the whole fight or flight thing. If I look at the news too close to bedtime I lie in bed and can feel my heart pounding. So now I have scheduled checking the news right before I walk the dog so I can get that adrenaline rush out of my system.

That's a very good idea! I don't have a dog but I should probably only start checking before I go for my daily walk for that reason. And stop checking first thing in the mornings, I just did, and it was a mistake to do so...

I have free satellite TV in my current apartment, so I've been more exposed to cable news recently than I have in years. Time to cut back again.

David Trammel's picture

NPR has a good article that discusses how our world has changed and is changing with this crisis.

Blueberry's picture

So after working in the garden all week time for a road trip.

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Sweet Tatorman's picture

I'm in!! I have the tradition of taking a month off from alcohol each year. I happened to make it two months this year: Feb and March. I'm counting down the days. Made a run to the liquor store this afternoon on the chance that it might be deemed a "non-essential" business. In NY, however, the Governor just today clarified that liquor stores are essential businesses.

Blueberry's picture

Same in Florida my local store has a drive thru. First week of March made a run, picked up 6 bottles of Irish Whiskey just in case the planes stop flying.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Maybe those Governors know their history. The first time Federal troops were used to put down a rebellion was over the issue of whiskey.

Blueberry's picture

So I help train service dogs , sometimes the hard part is training the handler .

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Blueberry's picture

Dr. Choi has some wonderful info to help folk get past the fear. Please read and enjoy Blueberry.

Blueberry's picture

A American TV Show the wonder of photo shop.

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I’ve cut way back on reading about the pandemic because nothing seems new anymore or very useful. I used to watch MedCram, Dr. John, and Peak Prosperity videos everyday; but slowed down on those too. I may be getting numb. It used to be appalling when we would get 100 new cases a day in Georgia; now 500-800 new cases a day feels like nothing new. I am, however, checking the Georgia Public Health status report every few days just to remind myself that the numbers are still going up. We are over 51,300 now.

My dear partner is medically high risk, and I was in a huge panic at the beginning to get away from possible exposure at work. Once we settled into working from home, the feeling of relief stuck with me for a long time. It also helped to have stocked up early. I became a little obsessive about making a vegetable garden and that channeled the rest of my anxiety.

My dear partner landed in the ICU last Monday. I don’t know if it could have been avoided if he had not been afraid to get out to doctors; but I do know that if I had not been working from home and heard him fall and called 911, he may not have lived. So - thank you, SARS-CoV-2. Having him in the hospital made me realize that we’ve been living in a fantasy bubble thinking we could hide away and be self-sufficient, so that does leave me in a weird place psychologically. (My partner is a lot better, and I hope to have him home soon.)