Would you hop around the room like a bunny while reciting your favourite nursery rhyme right now? Do you think I am crazy? Are you wondering why? Are you laughing a little at how silly you would look doing it?
Consider what you have just done. For a few moments you distracted your mind from all the worrisome thoughts taking up productive space in your brain and shifted your attention elsewhere, allowing you a healthy respite from the negative emotions associated with those thoughts.
This is called pattern interrupt and is a valuable skill to learn to help us navigate the overwhelming amount of alarmist information circulating on the media at the moment due to the pandemic. The World Health Organization has termed this an “Infodemic” and defined it as the fake and misleading information that is circulating on social media and spreading faster than the virus itself. Being sucked into this vortex, you are bound to be trapped by negative emotions such as fear, despair, worry and panic.
Maintaining a healthy outlook means limiting the amount of exposure to news, even if it comes from a dependable source. It is unquestionably damaging to have this information running in the background constantly. Experts advise scanning a few reliable sources for no more than 5 minutes twice per day. Learn to pattern interrupt whenever you are tempted to view yet another video, read another probably fake report. Replace these activities with productive or uplifting endeavours, that give you a sense of pleasure or achievement.
Remember that in times of crisis, the best way to cope is to go outside yourself. Who can you help? How can you make a difference right now? What can you do to make this time one of growth and positive change? Write down your top three talents or skills then reflect on how these could serve others in need. We cannot change reality but we can choose how to experience it. So choose right now to make a difference.