Ghost

How to be an anxious person in a world of pandemics and politics

If you’re an anxious person like me then you’ve probably noticed the impact that this week’s events have had on your nervous state. The only time I remember being this obsessed with gathering and consuming information was when my mam was dying of Pancreatic Cancer and I became fixated on learning everything there was to know about the disease.

Over the last week, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly anxious about the world’s events. From monitoring the death figures in every country to watching and analysing every political statement, there’s not much I don’t know about the pandemic. 

On Monday, I was keeping on eye on the news and by Wednesday I was actively refreshing the Twitter Moments page. I spent most of Thursday watching videos from different scientific sources discussing Herd Immunity and Flatterning the Curve. I woke up on Friday at 6am and compulsively picked up my phone to check the latest news. It’s no wonder that by Saturday I could barely peel myself out of bed to walk the dogs and spent most of the afternoon flopping about in a catatonic state.

Now it’s Sunday and I’m taking control. If you’re also experiencing the adverse effects of the world’s events then keep reading to find out what I’m doing to kerb my exposure to the viral news.

1. Muting words on Twitter

Last night I muted a selection of words on Twitter. As my favourite social media platform, I really didn’t want to stop using it – especially if we do end up quarantined at home with little-to-no social interaction. So, muting words seemed like the best way to curate my feed and minimise my exposure to continuous updates. 

Muted Words on Twitter

You can mute words by opening Twitter and going to Settings and Privacy > Privacy and Safety > Muted Words.

2. Only read trusted news sources

Instead of mindlessly scrolling Twitter, I’ve joined /r/coronavirus on Reddit. Every post is contextualised with trust and relevance, which helps us critically determine what’s ‘fake news’. I’m limiting myself to one visit to the Subreddit per day because, knowing me, this could easily become a new obsession.

3. Be wary of Facebook 

Following the recent controversy surrounding ‘fake news’ on Facebook, the social network has implemented a number of measures to encourage its users to take a more critical approach to news. 

Facebook Partly FalseFacebook Partly False

If your favourite boomer is sharing another post about why you shouldn’t order a Chinese takeaway, you can easily report or raise a support claim with Facebook. I also saw a number of posts with modals blocking the content highlighting that external links may include ‘fake news’. In my opinion, there’s such much Facebook needs to do to control the sharing of false information but this is definitely a start.

4. Avoid looking at your phone when you first wake up

This is one I struggle with. It’s like a compulsion to check the time and then press Twitter when I first open my eyes. Since I can’t trust myself not to reach for my phone in a hypnagogic state, I’m going to start putting my phone in another room and sticking to my watch for the time (or rely on my two greyhounds who start crying hysterically at 7 am every day without fail).

5. Go outside

Social distancing doesn’t mean we can never leave the house – it’s about avoiding crowds/groups of people in bars, restaurants and at public events. I walk the dogs around the local lake every morning and rarely see a soul, this fresh air helps me to rationalise the whirlwind in my head. It’s amazing what a few big lungfuls of fresh air can do!

All in all, those are a few things I’ve doing to negate my compulsive behaviour over the coming weeks. How are you coping right now? Let me know on Twitter @ContentByTheSea