by Daisy Luther
If you’re like a lot of folks, you’re sick and tired of hearing about the coronavirus but at the same time, you’re glued to the news about it. Or maybe it’s a combination of the coronavirus, a global economy threatened by the possible pandemic, a potential war in the Middle East, and the assorted political nonsense we’re currently witnessing that has you saying, “No more!”
There’s a loosely coined name for this. It’s called “doom fatigue.” Those of us who closely follow current events are the most susceptible to it. And it’s very real. These devices that keep us connected to a constant flow of information are great, but that same constant flow can also contribute to a state of overwhelm and mental exhaustion.
What is doom fatigue?
Doom fatigue refers to the feeling of overwhelm a person may get when faced with one negative event after another during a short period of time. When there’s a topic that is being constantly reported on – sort of like how every other headline right now has the word “coronavirus” in it – you can feel like a situation is even worse than it really is, simply because it’s always right there on the forefront of every website or news broadcast.
Some folks get so sick of it they refuse to read another word about it. They decide, “Forget it. I can’t take it anymore. If it kills me, it kills me” and go on their merry way.
That isn’t necessarily good either – the whole thing that keeps preppers prepared is our awareness of what’s going on in the world and how these events may affect our lives. So to completely write off something as dire as a possible deadly pandemic is as unwise as obsessing over it is.
What can you do to manage doom fatigue?
If coronavirus-related doom fatigue has got you feeling mentally battered and overwhelmed, the following suggestions may help you to get a handle on it while still remaining informed.
Pick your sources. First things first, decide what sources you are going to trust for information. (Hopefully one of them is this website – go here to subscribe.) Choose 2-3 sources that you find relevant and trustworthy and stop scrolling through the entire internet or going to aggregate sites with headlines from dozens of websites. You don’t need to live, breathe, eat, and sleep coronavirus news.
Set a time to check the news. Another problem is when people search for updates all the livelong day. It’s exhausting, constantly checking for something new. I should know – I do this because it’s my job to do it and some days I just want to go live under a rock – preferably a rock with no wifi. So, decide you’re going to read the news for half an hour in the morning and half an hour after work. Set an alarm and stick to your decision. When your timer goes off, get away from the computer and do something else.
Focus on what you can do. With regard to the coronavirus, there’s only so much we can do. In part, this is because of our budgets – we can only spend so much money on preps – and part of it is because we’re probably not getting accurate information. So focus on what you can do with your allotted money and the available information. Organize your preps, do an inventory, make a list of what you truly need, and add those items as you can. Learn more about boosting your immune system, keep yourself healthy, and use this as an opportunity to see if you have what you need. (This PDF, The Prepper’s Book of Lists, can help you get better organized.) I wrote here about preparing for a pandemic and here about what I did specifically to get prepared for the coronavirus. So get prepared, but respect your own limits.
Avoid the comments section. For the love of all things cute and fluffy, avoid stepping into the comments section of any news piece you happen to read. In many of them, you’ll be besieged by laptop warriors who spew hatred and ill-conceived 30-second “solutions” for complicated issues. This is not productive. Some comments sections are more like online gauntlets than others. If you do choose to interact, focus on those.
Your mental health and wellbeing is a priority. You don’t want to use up your reserves of resilience before the disaster even strikes your area – assuming it even does strike. While the coronavirus is definitely worrisome, so too was the Ebola scare in 2014, and you didn’t see people dropping dead in American streets then, bleeding from every orifice. The coronavirus may or may not become an issue where you live but it doesn’t need to be your focus during every waking hour. Remember that stress weakens the immune system. If you live in a state of full-blown panic for a month before there’s even an issue, you’re not going to be at your best if it does become an issue.
Nurture yourself. Without sounding all woo-woo mystical or like the type of person who thinks all things are solved with a good pedicure, you should still do things to nurture your own mental health. Maybe for you, that is a long walk in the woods, far away from any internet service. It could mean going outside and playing a game of tag with your children. Perhaps you enjoy crafting or woodwork or some other hobby where you get to indulge your creative side. Indulge in some entertainment like a good book or a movie on Amazon Prime. Whatever it is that makes you feel good and free from worry, be sure to spend some time doing that. It doesn’t mean you’re not focused on preparedness to do something enjoyable. (As I’ve written before, Fun is not the F-word.)
Stay healthy. Do everything you can to keep yourself healthy. Eat lots of high-quality whole food, get some exercise, spend some time in meditation or prayer, and try to keep stress to a minimum. If you have a pre-existing condition, strive to get things under control to the best of your ability. Schedule doctor’s appointments now instead of putting them off – you don’t want to be at a doctor’s office amidst all the germs if things do go bad in the future. The healthier you are, the more your body will be able to fight off any virus you might come into contact with at some point in the future.
Driving yourself nuts isn’t productive.
If you find that just the mention of the word “coronavirus” is enough to make you tense up and feel stressed out, then you may be dealing with some doom fatigue. It isn’t a productive state to be in because by the time bad things start happening (if they do start happening), you’ll be completely out of energy to deal with them.
Do what you can and then let it go. We are all limited by something – budget, location, a spouse who is not on board, access to supplies, etc.
There really is only so much you can do to get prepared. when you’ve reached that point, then you simply need to take a step back.
And trust me, it isn’t just you who is feeling overwhelmed. There are lots of folks in your shoes.
24-7 doom isn’t productive. It’s exhausting and it is not mentally healthy. Take it from someone who delves into doom every day for a living. You have to learn to manage it. I wrote previously:
Sometimes I get emails from people who wonder how I can write about the things I do and still remain upbeat.
I’ve been working in the alternative news industry since 2011. There have been days at I time I was glued to my laptop covering manhunts, constitutional insults, or scenes of horror. It would be a lie (not to mention rather unhinged) to say that I was unmoved by it all.
Sometimes I ended the day with such awful scenes playing through my head that my night was filled with restless nightmares replaying all that I had learned. Sometimes the last thing I wanted to do the next morning when it was time to start work was switch on that laptop and see the most recent gruesome act of hatred humans had perpetrated on one another.
But here I am, eight years later, still doing it. Still trying to make sense of it all and write things that pull people together instead of tearing them apart. Still looking for that common thread that runs between us all and hoping that more people grab onto that instead of trying to sever it.
And most of the time, I’m okay. Most of the time, I can keep from becoming terribly depressed by the awful things about which I spend my days researching and writing. I can share with you a few of the ways that I prevent the bad news from causing so much anxiety that I want to throw my laptop in the lake and live out the rest of my days, blissfully uninformed. (source)
And when I’m not okay? I give myself permission to take a step back. I do something enjoyable that is totally unrelated. Getting away from the computer and the radio and the television is important. Nature nearly always helps.
How do you handle a doom overload?
How do you regroup when it’s all too much? How do you handle the barrage of horrible events? Share your secrets for preventing doom fatigue in the comments below.