A Zen Approach to Information Overload 

TL;DR- It’s good to be informed, but it’s another thing to be obsessed with what’s going on. Limit your news intake and gather what you need from it. 

  • The two common experiences of Information Overload are the “Flash Flood” and the “Light Drizzle.”
  • Recognize the signs of Information Overload (frustration, fatigue, headache, mood swings). 
  • Do these practice videos below (meditation, breathwork, pressure points, and physical movement) to reduce symptoms and expand your information threshold.

It’s Mental Health Season and it feels like we’re getting tested!

Have you ever read the Bhagavad Gita (also known as the Gita)? The Gita is set in a narrative framework of a dialogue between a prince warrior, Arjuna, and his guide and charioteer, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Divine, or Inner Self. This narrative is happening on their way to battle. 

A Brief Story

In the story, Arjuna is preoccupied with a moral dilemma and despair about the violence and death the war will cause in the battle against his kin. Wondering if he should renounce the war, he seeks Krishna’s counsel. 

The “battle against his kin” represents our battle with ourselves and the changes we want to make. Our “kin” represents letting go of familiar habits, behaviors, or people who no longer serve us. 

Krishna informs Arjuna that he can see everything and that he is the only one who can fight this war between good and evil. Arjuna, being young and curious, wants proof. 

“Let me see what you see,” Arjuna says. 

Krishna warns him that it’s too much to handle, but Arjuna insists. 

In a flash moment, Krishna shows Arjuna what is happening everywhere, all over the world, at that very moment.

Arjuna falls to the floor, momentarily paralyzed in overwhelm, unable to fight. He begs Krishna to make it stop. 

Sound familiar? 

With the exponential rate of information and news shared, it’s normal to have an Arjuna moment. 

Information can feel overwhelming in today’s world. Then, of course, we have the news, social media, and podcasts that share information quickly. It’s good to be informed, but it can also be overwhelming if we don’t manage the data stream. 

Two common ways we can experience overload.

The Flash Flood. We receive a lot of information at once. Think of onboarding in a new job or hearing about a traumatic event via multiple channels and conversations with friends. Then, all of a sudden you feel full like you can’t take in any more information. 

The Light Drizzle. You have a daily habit of reading the news, checking social media, and getting updates on your phone. You’re taking in a lot of information but with little physical activity or mental breaks, like meditation. As a result, you feel dull. You can’t absorb any more information. 

Feeling full and feeling dull is both frustrating, but if you can recognize this experience as “information overload” and know that it’s normal, it’s easier to overcome. 

 A Zen Approach to Information Overload

Having a Zen approach to information overload requires that we recognize the signs and then mindfully approach a remedy. 

Information Overload

Signs of Information Overload

The signs of information overload can show up as:

  • Frustration
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Mood swings

If you feel this unexpectedly or while reading the news, don’t ignore it and don’t get annoyed. It’s a natural by-product of expanding your information threshold. Recognize that you may be taking too much in, and then take a moment to step away. 

Practices to Manage Information Overload

These are simple practices that can help reduce the symptoms of information overload, and increase your information threshold. 

Meditation is a quick solution to managing information overload. Five minutes can do wonders for your mind. Ten minutes will make you a mind samurai. Step away from your electronics, do a quarter turn from your screen, and close your eyes. If you have a meditation recording you like to use, do that. 

Breathing is the most efficient way to reduce information overload. The Physiological Sigh (or Physi Breath) can reduce stress in 40 to 60 seconds. Calming breath (4 counts in, 4 counts out) is also helpful. 

Calming Breath

Pressure points found naturally in the body can help reduce tension headaches and reduce the overwhelming feeling of all that’s happening. Specifically, there is a pressure point between the eyebrows (yogis call this the “third eye”) that sits at the front of the brain. I call it the “Reset Button.” Try this technique to feel a sense of ease. It helps to use Calming breath here, as well. 

Physical exercise is essential to balance our energy and fight mood swings. This doesn’t have to be a long run or sweaty workout. A walk around the block or a 3 min Desk Yoga practice can do wonders for reducing stress and information overload. 

In conclusion, it’s good to be informed, but it’s another thing to be obsessed with what’s going on. So limit your news intake and gather what you need from it.

Don’t numb yourself to what’s happening, but don’t torture yourself by obsessing and ignoring your body’s signals. 

Many companies now offer well-being services. Please use the resources available to you, or use ZaaS, for support.