The Balancing Act: ‘Exhausted With Bombardment Of Info’
Every other week, Sonali Gupta draws on more than 10 years of experience as a clinical psychologist to give advice to readers with questions about parenting, family dynamics, relationships, mental health, and more.
Information Overload: I have been feeling exhausted with the constant bombardment of information on various social media, technology and work updates. I’m worried that I might be forgetting some information as a result. Is that possible?
Sonali: Technology is a double-edged sword: While it simplifies our lives, its overuse can be exhausting. Over the last couple of years, I have seen clients struggle with digital amnesia, thanks to the time they spend with gadgets. Researchers have confirmed that this inability to retain information is because we have pretty much outsourced the responsibility to our gadgets.
I have also seen that overuse of technology clutters the mind, eclipsing crucial information. Many of us are victims of The Google Effect — because of the ease with which we can access information online, our own memory and cognitive processes are falling into disuse. For young people, lapses in memory could also be linked to stress, burnout or over exhaustion as they juggle various roles.
The way we use technology, especially social media, could lead one to conclude we are natural multitaskers, but research shows the brain is, in fact, not wired to multitask. So, choosing to listen mindfully and attentively and taking breaks from technology helps. Ironic as it may be, using apps like Break Free, which tells users how addicted they are to their devices, could help you limit usage and, consequently, mitigate the bombardment of info.
The good news is, as we choose to retain information and recall it consciously, exercise our memory, and develop mindfulness, we can prevent and/or reverse the impact of digital amnesia.
Overstrung: I have always been anxious as a child and, as an adult, the anxiety is getting to me. Do you think seeking therapy would help?
Sonali: Anxiety is an emotion that all of us experience to varying degrees. It is a feeling of apprehension about something going wrong, and it can either be free-floating or specific to a situation. While the feeling, to a degree, has its positives – it checks impulsiveness and helps us consider consequences and remain safe – it also can become frightfully limiting when it stops us from making a decision, and trusting ourselves.
Some people are born with an anxious temperament (anxiety can be partly hereditary), so even as children, minor events may overwhelm them. However, the feeling is also learnt by observing how our parents handle social situations.
If not managed, anxiety can become debilitating and come in the way of both personal and professional life. Psychotherapy can help reduce anxiety, so it doesn’t consume you. Most psychologists help clients discover the origins of their anxiety — past baggage, so to speak, if there is any — and teach Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques that help manage irrational thoughts that prompt the anxious feelings. Relaxation approaches are also known to help people allay their anxieties.
I recommend the book When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life, by David Burns, to understand the intricacy of anxiety and techniques for managing it. At the very basis of anxiety lies our fundamental fear or lack of self-trust. Learning to develop a narrative to trust our abilities is crucial.