If you are feeling hopeless and desperate right now, you are not alone. Now that the virus has spread across the world, and we are reminded of that fact by breaking news every day, it can be difficult to remain calm and maintain a sense of hope, particularly when faced with disheartening stories and shortages of public resources.
The generation of fear among people in the midst of global outbreaks is understandable, since anyone of any age, gender, and sociodemographic status can be infected. Further to this, there is conjecture surrounding the manner and rate of transmission, with the disease spreading at an unparalleled magnitude, and without a definitive treatment.
However, despite all of the frightening stories and statistics, it is vital that we remain hopeful. As a matter of fact, researchers have found hope to be a significant underpinning factor as both a preventative measure and factor of recovery in mental health.
So, in order to feel optimistic and mentally well in these times, perhaps what is needed is a reassessment of the ways in which we stay informed, and whether or not these are actually having a positive or negative impact on our wellbeing. Here are some tips which may help you think about more constructive ways of gaining information during the COVID-19 crisis:
1. Stay Informed with Trusted Sources
As Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), has said, ‘we’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic’, referring to a disproportionate amount of fake news. This makes it harder to identify a resolution during a crisis due to rumour and speculation, provoking widespread anxiety.
During this pandemic, it’s important to make sure you are receiving updates from reliable sources. With access to good quality information about the virus, you may feel a greater sense of control. Generally, you can feel confident that material is trustworthy if it is found via a reputable source, such as the National Health Service (NHS) or the Government website for guidance. Further, if an article is written by a registered medical professional, it is more likely to be well-informed by research and clinical expertise. Here are some further trusted resources you can turn to, which we recommend for finding information on COVID-19:
– National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE): Including ‘Rapid Guidelines’, ‘Innovation Briefings’ and ‘Clinical Knowledge Summaries’
– National Institutes of Health (NIH): A curated list of trusted resources and news releases
– The British Medical Journal (BMJ): A COVID-19 information hub
– COVID NMA: A live mapping of ongoing research and network meta-analysis of study results
– PubMed Central (PMC): A filtered listing of COVID-19 related publications
– The British Pharmacological Society: ‘Resources and Trusted Information’
2. Limit Exposure to Media
It’s understandable to want to keep abreast of everything that’s going on when we are feeling frightened and unsure of what’s to come. However, sometimes it might be necessary to tune in with yourself and ask if it’s really necessary to be on social media or checking the news at this moment.
Experts suggest that when one limits their exposure to media, it can lower levels of stress and anxiety. Some suggest a daily routine for checking the news, which could mean searching for updates at designated times of the day.
This might be an opportunity to also think about whether there are particular people or social media accounts whose posts actually increase worry, sadness and anxiety; in which case, you may consider muting, unfollowing or simply minimising engagement with those accounts, as well as hashtags which you find disheartening.
3. Seek Out Good News Too
Being surrounded by negative news and increasing statistics, it is no wonder that many of us are feeling hopeless and desperate. In times like these, we must also seek out and amplify positive and hopeful stories too, of which there are many!
For example, check out this amazing story about Tom Moore, a 99-year-old World War Two veteran who captured the heart of the nation when he completed 100 laps of his garden with his walking frame, which led him to raise over £30 million for the NHS.
Then there was this couple whose wedding reception was cancelled due to lockdown. So instead of feeding their guests, they donated 400 meals to the NHS.
There have also been some encouraging and heartwarming stories of people making recoveries from the illness. In Oregon, USA, another World War Two veteran William Lapschie celebrated his 104th birthday in April, after having made a recovery from the virus.
Finally, take a look at this video shared by the Good News Movement, where citizens in Italy took part in an impromptu balcony dance party to raise spirits despite being under lockdown.
The Take Home Message
The negative sides of the COVID-19 might be overwhelmingly present in the news, but we can all find ways of accessing news that is reliable and informative while also feeling optimistic about the future. While it is important to stay informed in order to stay safe and keep in line with governmental guidelines, there is no good reason to let one’s mental health be compromised by unfounded gossip and hearsay.
If you find this to be a problem in these times, we suggest you find alternative ways of accessing information, seeking out sources that are trustworthy, setting yourself limits as to how much news you consume in a given time, and finally, find supplementary news that can lift your spirits and those of others around you.