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Information Overload and Mental Health by Imani Hayes

I have been thinking about how we live in a world of information overload. There’s so much happening and so many forms of media that are targeting us all day long. It can be exhausting and make us feel mentally “cluttered”. It can also be difficult to determine how we feel amidst everyone else’s hot takes.

It’s very odd, but sometimes I find that I know more about what other people think, than what I think. Or, I realize that I’ve absorbed outside opinions without doing the internal work to actively decide how I feel. When I reflected on that more, I realized that it makes so much sense. Maybe your day looks like mine: you commute somewhere and everywhere you look, there are billboards. Maybe you have an Instagram, and you’re accosted by news bites (accurate, or not) that you didn’t ask for. Maybe you enjoy podcasts like I do, where you get to hear what other people care about. For the most part, these things are great, even beneficial! At the very least, they aren’t inherently evil— but you know as well as I do that most things are best in moderation.

I think the danger here is lack of boundaries— not knowing where you begin and everyone else ends. The danger in not knowing how you feel and what you think is that you end up in situations that don’t feel good. It may be a sign that you are disconnected and need to go inward.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do have more questions (sorry) to help you arrive at them. And don’t feel alone! These are questions that I ask myself.

  1. What are your values? What do YOU care about? What are the things that make you light up inside?

  2. Do you have to have an opinion on ________? I think we get stuck feeling like we have to be well informed about all of the things. How exhausting! Can you free yourself with honesty— do you actually care about that topic?

  3. What are my limits around consumption of information? Maybe this requires boundaries around social media usage.

  4. Am I feeling numb? How does my body feel when I engage with certain kinds of content?

  5. How can I identify when I need to take a step back from external influences?

Just some things to think about the next time you are consuming content that may be affecting your mental health.

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