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Protecting Your Mental Health from Social Media and the News

These days it seems like bad news is a common thing that occurs. From events like the COVID-19 pandemic to the war in Ukraine, the number of distressing events and news is anxiety inducing. More exposure and access is made available to everyone all thanks to social media, the internet, and the 24/7 news cycle. Scientists have found a link between the state of the news and our psychological well-being. Before the internet, social media, and smartphones we could just switch off the TV or the radio when we wanted a break, but nowadays it seems almost impossible to avoid. We are bombarded with news from the moment we first turn on our smartphones. The latest headlines or startling images appear leaving no boundaries and we feel obligated to consume this information or it may seem like we don't care about what is going on with the current events. 

Here are some tips to consume the news in a healthier way:

1. Limit your time engaging with the news

Rather than having the TV rolling with the current local news throughout the day, set a timer for youself to limit the time you spend on social media or engaging with the news. 

2. Set a certain time dedicated to only catching up with current events

Designate times throughout the day to checking the latest headline, scrolling thorugh social media, or tuning to the latest news podcast. This will try to help with the intermittent impulse to check on your phone for updates and notifications. You can also save the link or flag it so that you view it later during the time you allotted. 

3. Have a trusted friend or family member fill you in on current news

Having a friend or family member you rely on fill you in on the current news avoids the anxiety-provoking noticifications and news that can affect your daily lifestyle and mental health. This is highly recommended if breaking news triggers chronic symptoms of anxiety and depression. No exposure for a set period of time could help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

4. Find something that's more positive to offset the bad news 

Sometimes reading, watching, or listening to something light and amusing can take your mind off many things and help relieve a bit of stress. It's crucial to offset all of the negative headlines with some happiness and laughter in your life as well. This break reminds each and everyone of us that there's always joy and goodness to be found in the world despite all of the current events occurring. 

5. Stay busy in a healthier way rather than on social media

Practice developing healthy self-care habits such as exercising, meditating, journaling, painting, gardening, or hiking. Not only are these healthy behaviors in general but they also can divert your attention away from the neverending news updates. 

These days, it seems almost impossible to avoid late and breaking news. If you still find it hard to cope with the symptoms of mental health disorders, seek help from a mental health professional today. 

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