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How to protect your mental health while using social media

Maybe it’s a happy couple toes in the sand on a Grecian beach vacation. Or the family that always seems to go hiking together, no one ever complaining about the hot sun and how long it takes to get back to the car. It might even be the perfect meal skillfully plated on a busy weeknight.

These images of contentment and positivity can easily leave some people who see them on Instagram, TikTok or Facebook feeling like everyone is enjoying life more.

Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy, warned this week While social media can be beneficial for some people, evidence suggests it can pose a “profound risk of harm” to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.

Mental health experts say there are strategies everyone can use — some practical, some more philosophical — to engage with social media in healthy ways and limit harm.

Dawn Bounds – a psychiatrist and mental health nurse practitioner who was a member of an american psychological association advisory board on social media and teen mental health — said she was intentional about the accounts she follows and the videos she watches.

She likes to follow the accounts of people who promote mental health and social justice, which “fill me up and inspire me,” says assistant professor in the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing at the University of California, Irvine Doctor. Bounds said. , Dr. Bounds, who is black, also likes content that makes him laugh, such as the account black people and pets On Instagram.

Also, she avoids videos that circulate online of police shooting unarmed people, which can be traumatic, she said. And with all the trolls and bad actors online, she said, “I have no problem unfollowing, muting and blocking people I don’t want in my threads.”

“It’s really about curating the experience for yourself and not leaving it completely up to these algorithms, because these algorithms don’t have your best interests in mind,” Dr. Bounds said. “You are your own best protector.”

If your social media use is getting in the way of other activities like going out, exercising, talking to family and friends, and perhaps most importantly, sleeping, it’s excessive, said Jacqueline Nessy, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown. It is possible university.

Dr. Nessy recommends a more “conscious” approach, which involves “taking a step back and thinking about what I’m seeing.” If the content makes you feel bad, he said, just unfollow or block the account.

Keeping up with how we use social media is challenging, Dr Nessy said, as some apps are designed to be used without thinking, to expose people to videos and targeted content – clothing , selling makeup and wellness products – to be scrolled through – it seems to satisfy our desires.

When people reach for their phones, it can be helpful to be “curious” and ask “Why did I do that?” Nina Wasson, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University, said.

“Am I looking for connection because I’m lonely?” Doctor. Wasson said in an email. “Or am I trying to distract myself from a difficult feeling?”

She suggests asking yourself: “What do I need in this moment, and can I meet this need without turning to social media?”

When people take stock of why they are picking up their phones, Dr Vasan said, they should unfollow accounts that make them feel anxious and depressed or that lower their self-esteem.

Plus, they should follow more accounts that make them feel good, improve their mood and make them laugh. May be they contain cooking videos with easy steps and ingredients or soothing clip of swimming pool being cleanedWhich has collected millions of views on Tiktok.

“Think of these tasks like spring cleaning,” Dr. Wasson said. “You can do it today, and then repeat these behaviors periodically as perhaps new things come up in the news or in your life that are triggering you,” or as your passions change.

Dr. Nessie suggests people charge their phones outside the bedroom at night, don’t use it for an hour before bedtime, and generally schedule a technology-free time of day when they leave their phones out of reach. Give Dr. Murthy suggested that family mealtimes should be free of devices.

Experts also recommend that people turn off notifications that ping them when an account they follow is updated. They can also remove social media apps from their phones and use them only on their desktop or laptop computers. This may reduce your chances of coming down with a bad position. FOMO,

Dr Bounds said she deleted Facebook and Instagram on her phone after her son, who is 20, deleted Instagram on his phone. This helped him reduce the amount of time he was wasting online. “I did it when I was grant-writing,” she said. “It was a strategy I needed to focus on.”

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