In some ways, we have never been better equipped to handle questions about health than we are right now. It’s hard to argue against the suggestion that the average person today knows more about the human body and mind than a leading doctor would have a hundred years ago. We also have more access to both treatment and information about health matters than ever before.
At the same time, we have perhaps never been more concerned about health issues than we are now. Even before the pandemic raised its head, health crises were hardly a new concept, and conflicting arguments relating to the crisis have created a level of uncertainty that has not been helpful in fighting the virus. It seems fair to say that the more informed we are as a society, the more questions we have. But we can’t go backward or become more ignorant, and this is why it’s essential to become more informed in order to stay healthy.
Acknowledge authority, but recognize that it’s fallible.
There is a tendency among some people to believe that medical science is lying to us. We’ve seen it in the skepticism over COVID-19, but it’s not a new thing. For example, there have been past instances of parents holding chicken-pox parties to get their kids infected with that virus rather than getting them immunized – despite the risk of long-term health complications from the virus. If all of public health is telling you something, there is a good chance that it’s because you need to know it; at the same time, remember that situations can change as we get new information, so authority can never be 100% right.
Keep up with new information.
Again looking at this in the context of COVID-19, there was a belief early in the pandemic that the virus could only be transmitted by people who had developed symptoms. As further information emerged and the profile of the spread became clear, it was acknowledged that asymptomatic transmission was happening. People who tracked COVID-19 APIs and continue to now will have more information than those who dip in and out of the story – and will be able to amend their plans to keep out of the way of potential transmission vectors.
Manage your mental health.
Not just in a COVID-19 sense, but in a broader sense too, staying across information on health matters can become overwhelming – so it is important to parse information into categories. There are things that you need to know, and to do, right now. There are other things that you can probably store away and not keep referring back to. Seeing everything in life through a prism of health is one certain way to give yourself a heavy dose of anxiety, which in itself is damaging to your mental health. So pay attention to health matters, but don’t be permanently on the lookout for red flags – confirmation bias will mean that you start to see them everywhere.
Being aware of important information about health, and knowing when and how to use that information, can help you stay well in a world where threats continue to exist. Just make sure that you’re not overloading yourself with information.