By Alison Cram

01st July 2020

Categorised in Good To Know

Until recently I’d always been a bit of a newshound. I liked to keep up with current affairs and made a point of tuning into news bulletins on the radio, reading a daily newspaper and catching up with news articles online. 

When I became a carer my daily news feed was reduced as care duties took over. Some days the newspaper never got opened, the radio never got turned on and my laptop stayed in sleep mode (lucky old laptop). 

But I checked in with the news when I could and generally I considered myself a fairly well informed person. Somehow that felt important. In many ways my sphere of life has shrunk since I took on a caring role. I don’t go out to work, off on holiday or away to visit friends. Life is dominated by the house, the garden and the well-worn road to and from the supermarket, the doctors’ surgery and the pharmacy. Opportunities to travel beyond that are limited, so keeping up with the news is how I stay in touch with the wider world.  But all that changed when Covid-19 reared its ugly head.

Suddenly, every news bulletin began with a solemn announcement of how many people had died that day, followed by reporters recounting how many were critically ill in hospital, how hospitals were struggling to cope and how quickly the virus was spreading.

Anxious thoughts began to swirl around my brain. Dad was clearly in the extremely vulnerable category. What if he caught the virus? What if my brother and I caught it – who would look after Dad? What if he had to go into hospital and we couldn’t visit him? Should our carers still be coming in? How would we manage without them? What was the right thing to do? My stress and anxiety levels rocketed. I could see that this wasn’t healthy. 

I couldn’t control the virus but I could control how much I chose to hear about it, so I decided to cut out the daily feed of doom, disaster and Armageddon. When the news bulletins came on the radio I turned it off. When the news started on TV I pressed the mute button. In lockdown we couldn’t get a newspaper and I stopped looking at them online. 

And I found that I didn’t miss it. Quite the contrary, in fact. Calm began to return to my head. I was still anxious about the situation of course, but without the dramatic headlines I could put in into perspective. I focused purely on what was within my control, what was immediately relevant to me and those close to me.  

We live in a world of social media streaming, 24-hour rolling news and a consumer culture that is always looking for the latest trend or the next big thing. It’s easy to get stressed, anxious or simply distracted by this constant stream of information, comment and analysis – especially when it’s accompanied by dramatic and shocking headlines designed to grab our attention.

Now that things are easing up (hopefully without a second wave) I am beginning to tune into the news again, but with a whole new approach. I register the headlines but I only take time to read or listen to those reports that are genuinely of interest or will directly affect me or my loved ones.

Everything else I let slide by. It turns out that it doesn’t matter if I don’t know that a junior Government minister is having an affair with a Lithuanian tap dancer, that a baked bean factory has collapsed in Cornwall or whether it’s raining in Rugby.

As a carer I don’t have the time, the energy or the inclination to keep up. 

And as it turns out, that’s no bad thing – no bad thing at all.