Coronavirus: Social Distancing From Social Media

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 |  March 30, 2020
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Talks of the novel coronavirus — formally known as COVID-19 — are overwhelming our everyday lives; from newspapers to television, to personal conversations, and social media. It can be difficult to shut off these sources of information, especially when you want to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world. However, too much of anything can be a bad thing, and that definitely applies to social media bombardment during the coronavirus crisis.

Since we mainly use social media to interact with our close friends and keep up with celebrity news it can be easy to forget that social media is global. This means that the very same social media is now supplying us all with endless headlines, videos, and anecdotes about just how scary this epidemic truly is. Much of this is content that we may have never engaged with previously due to our location or interests, but are now seeing 24/7 as the result of retweets, shares, and reposts.

This is aside from the fact that every aspect of the media, whether news-related or not, is covering coronavirus updates. This results in an overload of coronavirus information and fear-mongering on social media that is overwhelming us, and leading to declines in mental health. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat; the list goes on and on. Every platform is swarming with coronavirus content and reactions, which is leading to anxiety and depression — even among people who don’t typically struggle with mental illness.

However, this is no surprise, because after all, there are research studies that warn of social media usage — particularly the excess usage of social media — and how using these platforms may make us more jealous, anxious, or depressed. Now more than ever, it’s important to maintain our mental health. Unfortunately, that’s not always conducive to being on social media. In fact, one study asserts,that social media] use was significantly associated with increased depression.

If social media is already significantly linked with depression, it makes sense that the correlation is even stronger in times of crisis. Alas, correlation is not causation, and there is still more research to be done to delve into if there is in fact causation. Nevertheless, anything that negatively correlates to your mental health during this trying time should be avoided. Instead, try some of these tips to be proactive in regards to your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

Go on a Social Media Detox

It’s as if you can’t go anywhere on social media, or on the Internet in general, without seeing a screen full of the word ‘corona.’ Therefore, if you’re experiencing anxiety and depression, it is important to limit screen time. Scrolling through social media will likely do nothing but heighten your anxiety or depression, and that is not worth the risk.

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While being stuck inside is not ideal, it is also a great time to stop the endless scrolling and instead do something more productive and fun. There are endless things to keep you entertained at home that you are probably not even aware of. Look around your home and see what can keep you occupied and distracted from your anxious or depressive thoughts. You may find puzzles, board games, video games, yoga, crafts, and handiwork that you can dive into and busy yourself with.

Connect Deeply with Others

Clinical psychologist Alexandra Hamlet, PhD, highlighted the importance of face-to-face connection as opposed to potentially depressive social media. “The less you are connected with human beings in a deep, empathic way, the less you’re really getting the benefits of social interaction,” she said. “The more superficial it is, the less likely it’s going to cause you to feel connected, which is something we all need.”

As Hamlet explained, it’s important to stay connected with others. If you live with roommates or a partner, use this time to bond. Truly embrace the beauty of face-to-face human connection, enjoy the quality time, and strengthen your bond. Between activities you will do together and wonderful conversations that you will have, you and your roommate(s) or partner will come out of this stronger than ever.

Lean into the Positive Aspects of Technology

Social media may be bombarding you with coronavirus updates, but there are still positives when it comes to modern technology. In addition to face-to-face connection with those who you live with, or in lieu of face-to-face connection if you live alone, there’s much connection to be had online You can play games via online streaming, have dinner dates on FaceTime, as well as participate in so many other activities by being creative and embracing technology in order to maintain your bonds during this global pandemic.

Mute Certain Words Online

There are quite a few social media platforms and web browsers that allow you to mute certain words from your social media and the websites you go on. It may be extreme, but if your anxiety or depression is particularly bad, you very well may benefit from muting words related to coronavirus and particularly words in relation to its fatality. We’re not saying that you have to be ignorant to the virus’s updates. You can designate a friend or family member to relay you the information regarding the most essential updates. If you still want to go on social media or need to use social media for work, this coronavirus mental health strategy will help you stay sane and avoid the social media bombardment of COVID-19.

Seek Professional Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing overwhelming fear, anxiety, depression, or any other decline of their mental state, it’s important to seek the help of a counselor. Social distancing and quarantines are halting traditional, non-essential appointments that would typically occur in person. However, whether you are accustomed to therapy or simply need some help to make it through this trying time, you can work with a licensed counselor online. Staying in the confines of your home and experiencing isolation is tough enough; don’t let social media make it harder. Instead, be proactive and seek help. Luckily, you can do it right from the comfort of your couch.

Alexis Dent is an essayist, author, and entrepreneur. Her work is primarily focused on mental illness, relationships, and pop culture. You can find her writing in Washington Post, Greatist, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, and more.
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