The Coronavirus has had a huge impact on us as individuals, our families, friends and society in general. So, how can we cope with Isolation, Fear, and Uncertainty?
Burton Paul, a digital health expert believes: ‘We are today facing a situation no one alive has ever encountered or experienced – coronavirus. It is a word etched in our minds, and will forever be a reminder of how vulnerable we can be, and how vulnerable our elderly and very young loved ones are, and sure to be a talking point for decades to come. The next generation will likely ask the question “can you tell us what it was like to live in that period?”
In such times people are searching for answers, hope, clarity, understanding of what is happening with this virus and how it affects our health. But do they know where to search, what is credible, what isn’t, what to believe and what not to believe?
Burton Paul’s book “Is it Serious? How to Search for Health Information on the Internet” is particularly timely because of the amount of health misinformation out there already. It has been written in a way that people can understand what credible health information is and what isn’t, where the right sources of health information are, and how to find them for whichever situation you are facing in your health search.
Robocallers are now trying to sell cures and disease-delaying medication for Coronavirus, none of which is real and just a profiteering scheme to make money from people in fear.
Online technology companies are also now in the process of:
- Promoting good information
- Demoting bad information
- Keep misinformation from appearing in the first place
- So what part does social media play in all this?
It is important to note that social media is the heart and soul of engagement. In this time of isolation we are fortunate to have such technology as social media at our fingertips, which allows us to engage, connect, share, laugh, cry, and so much more, albeit virtually. We are able to remain in touch with all the people we would normally be in touch with, and those we would normally not be in touch with (because of geographic reasons, etc.).
Whilst there is some good information on social media (see my list below on the reliable and credible sources on social media), what we also find ourselves doing through social media is reading posts that are frightening us with material that may or may not be correct. In our state of worry, we end up sharing it with others we care about so that they are also aware, not realising we are potentially sharing incorrect or misinformation.
Burton Paul states: ‘We need to appreciate that our actions will affect others around us who we are connected to. And we need to be careful how we affect others. We are here to support one another, not frighten one another. So it is important to check those facts, find the credible sources of information, and verify the truth behind it’.
A good set of pointers and a list of social media etiquette to try to follow are:
- Think before you post
- Think before you reply
- Think before you share
- Don’t believe everything you read
- Check and stick to credible sources
- Be aware of your power to influence and affect others
- Be caring, be kind, be supportive #bekind
- Staying connected on social media helps people feel less isolated
- It’s ok to mute accounts or take a break from social media if it’s stressing
- If a post makes you sad or angry, then delete
Michelle Scott is a Psychotherapist and former mental health nurse. She stated that: ‘If you are self-isolating but not working at home, create some tasks that you can do which will be fulfilling and enjoyable. Share positive messages, strategies and tips on social media’.
The use of video calling and conferencing apps such as FaceTime and Zoom helps us share experiences with friends and family and Scott suggests that we: ‘Practice mindfulness or breathing techniques for relaxation. Light a soothing scented candle for a period during the day or have your favourite music playing while at home’.
Those with anxiety should limit the time they spend watching the news and limit social media coverage. It can become an obsessive focus and increase our feelings of anxiety. Pause Coronavirus updates on platforms like Twitter and any others that you can.
Routines are important. If you’re working from home, get dressed in your usual clothes and start work at the same time you would normally, take a lunch break and finish at your usual hour, stick to a regular bedtime.
‘Try meditation or a nap’, says Michelle Scott. ‘It can be tiring having to self-motivate and create our own structure. Have fun and be kind to yourself and others. Our survival brains will be running amok right now and telling us all to get ready for battle or head for the hills’.
Unquestionably, this is a serious situation for all of us. At the same time stress and fear will not help us to stay wise or well. Balancing out the stress with more positive and pleasant experiences will not only pass the time but give us a much-needed dose of feel good hormones and send reassuring signals to our overwrought brain.
Think about what you could do in your local community to help others who are isolated. Helping other people will also give you a huge feeling of satisfaction.
Burton Paul: Is it Serious? How to search for health information on the internet – available at Amazon
Michelle Scott: website: trcgroup.org.uk