In today’s world, there is a lot of information available online. We can find any information regarding anything. Uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic has created a habit of looking at everything on the internet to quench our curiosity. This habit may lead to information overload. Let’s first know what information overload is?
Information overload, also known as infoxication, infobesity, cognitive overload, and information explosion, is a person’s state of being overwhelmed by the amount of information for a given situation. It not only involves too much data intake at one go but can be a constant flood of data from many sources, which exceeds the human capacity for information intake. Information overload reduces our ability to function effectively, impacting our decision-making capability.
Disadvantages of information overload
As we move towards the new era of globalization, more and more people have started using the internet to smother their curiosity. We find the information quite intriguing without knowing its validity and the consequences of misinformation. Too much information or information overload can cause many issues, such as:
- Information overload can overwhelm a person’s mind, which drains judgmental ability.
- We may get easily confused and stressed out due to too much data availability.
- Consuming too much information at one time affects our focus. It makes us less efficient because our minds get tired after excessive mental processing.
- Access to a variety of data causes stress and anxiety. It may even also impact our relationships.
- It affects our overall mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It increases the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which exhausts our brain and causes mental fatigue.
How to overcome this information overload
Our brain cannot process too much data, and this information overload makes us feel paralyzed. To make productive outcomes from this information, we have to cope with information overload by changing some of our daily habits, such as:
- Shut off all the push notifications on your phone: These unnecessary alerts and push notifications are nothing but information overload because they provide non-essential information when we are not looking for it. It increases anxiety and curiosity on that topic, and we indulge ourselves in these more. So, if you want to stay focused, then shut off these push notifications.
- Stop checking social media sites frequently: Social media is a big platform for news articles with many headlines and information. We feel that we are just checking emails or checking up with friends, but at that time, we also come across many blogs and articles. Instead of checking social networking sites frequently, we should pick a time of the day and try not to overindulge in it.
- Organize your timetable for news: Constant streaming of news articles or videos puts a troll on our mental health. Watching news over and over increases anxiety, as we are carried away with it. So, we should try to limit the watching time news and can set a timer also. If you feel anxious while watching the news, immediately skip it and do other activities instead.
- Give your mind rest: Sometimes, doing nothing is also good. Our mind also needs rest, just like our body. We can avoid mental fatigue by just unplugging ourselves from the digital world. So, instead of checking phones, tablets, or computers, we can use this time to read, meditate, or relax.
- Avoid watching phone before bed: If we continuously stare at our phone before bed, the light from the phone and anxiety-filled news keep us active. News, articles, and updates from family and friends amplify our curiosity, which increases mental exhaustion. Try to avoid your phone for at least 30 minutes before sleeping. You can read your favorite book or listen to music before going to sleep.
- Rely on the genuine source of information: In this era of abundance of fake news, try to rely on authentic sources for correct information.
A healthy body needs a healthy mind to function efficiently. If you are feeling exhausted and mentally tired, it’s time to break the habit of constant indulgence in new information. With these behavioral changes, we can cope with the information overload.
Dr. Gaurav Jain, Consultant – Internal Medicine, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi