Anxious about coronavirus? Scroll on by.

Anybody who uses Facebook will be familiar with the insidious way in which it manages your daily experience. Click on a picture of a dog, and you’ll get flooded with pictures of dogs. You’ll get doggy treat adverts, dog adoption groups and cute videos of dogs cooking paella. In fact you don’t even need to have clicked. Such is the subtlety of the Facebook ‘algorithm’.

You only have to slow down or stop scrolling on your device to inform the social media site that this is something you are interested in and you’ll get more of it. It is almost impossible not to do that if something catches your eye.

What’s the problem?

It’s all very well, when this is just innocent pictures of guinea pigs in cute costumes, but there is a competition to get your attention. That means that the images and memes you are bombarded with have become more and more extreme.

Everybody is anxious about coronavirus. In these days when we are reaching the height of the Coronavirus epidemic, it is unsurprising that Facebook is feeding us copious amounts of very disturbing information.

Some of it is vitally important to us, of course. We all want to do what is best for us, our loved ones, and the world in general. So we pay attention to every thread that seems to give us new knowledge, even though we know that much of it is misleading, or even harmful.

Facebook responds by giving us more of the same. It’s designers know that a ‘click-bait’ dramatic headline, will drive traffic and support it’s advertisers. If we are anxious about coronavirus we need to either step off Facebook entirely, or learn to ‘scroll on by’.

It’s not just Facebook

And that’s a life lesson from Facebook if you like. To manage this time with some level of peace and balance, we need to be able to ‘scroll on by’ in life.

When you become aware of your concerns, worries and fears, allow them to show themselves to you. Decide what you are feeling. Give it a name. Be aware of where in your body you are feeling it. Acknowledge that the feeling is there for a reason. 

  • What is the feeling doing for you?
  • Is it trying to protect you from danger?
  • Could it be trying to make you better prepared for the future?
  • What would be a more productive state or feeling?
  • Would it better to be curious about what will happen?
  • How would it be if you were detached? Patient? Constructive?
  • How would things be if you felt that way instead?

If any of these states seem to give you a better outcome take a deep breath in. As you breathe out slowly, let go of that old feeling and try on the new state. How are things different now? Notice that it is different.

If necessary repeat the exercise again.and the things it is doing to try to keep you safe. Then scroll on by.

5 things to scroll by in life during Coronavirus

  1. Arguments with loved ones.
    Ask yourself, will this matter in a week’s time.
  2. Frustration at not being able to have that holiday, or trip, visit that friend or go to the pub.
    Book it in the diary for some time in the future. That way you can really look forward to it and prepare, when the time is right.
  3. Other people not social distancing.
    Take responsibility wherever possible to do the right thing. If others are slow to realise they are not following the rules, take whatever action you can to mitigate the problem. Wait, step aside, walk further away, ask politely for them to wait if necessary. Always with the view that YOU are responsible for the space around you.
  4. Judging the actions of those around you. Try not to make assumptions about other people’s actions.
    Yes there are those out there who take risks, ignore rules and put themselves and others in danger. There are also a million different circumstances that we know nothing of. A group of seven people walking together could still be one household. A man walking on a beach might live only 100 metres away. He might have been doing this walk every day for the last 20 years.
  5. Conspiracy theories
    At this time there are many possible interpretations of what is happening in the world and we don’t know what we don’t know. One of these many explanations could be right, but how will we know which one for certain. You have to do what is right, and follow your beliefs, but how much of a difference can one person make in spreading the word. How much harm can be done by creating confusion and doubt. If you want to make a difference and have your voice heard, you may be most effective choosing the battles that have the loudest voice. More PPE availability, more financial support for small businesses, rent and housing support. My mentor Ewan Mochrie has this to say about conspiracy theories.

Self-care, and safety of your loved ones must be your highest priority. If you are anxious about coronavirus and what you are focusing on doesn’t properly support that, just ‘scroll on by’.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.

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