Technology: The negative impact on Mental Health

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Overexposure to sensationalised news updates not only harms mental health: it can be addictive. Our mind is susceptible to the emotions generated by the media, whether they are positive or negative, and it can get trapped in a hard-to-break vicious circle.

Due to lockdown, many of us have become inherently connected to our computers because of work commitments. The idea of going on a ‘digital detox’ is out of the question as it has become our primary means for keeping in touch with friends and family.

There is an ongoing debate as to whether social media and digital devices are detrimental to mental health. With a community of 3.4 billion people using social media in 2019 (45% of the global population), and research showing that number is even higher now with many older people moving online through necessity, it’s fair to say that everyone is experiencing life online differently.

Since social media is still a relatively new technology, it is hard to say what effect it is having in the long-term. Estimates show that addiction to social media affects around 5% of young people, and it’s ‘addictiveness’ comes down to its ability to instantly gratify users. Categorising addiction can be difficult, but by a newer definition it is a “manic reliance to keep our thoughts at bay“.

As a result, we are often drawn to consult our phones rather than ourselves. This reliance can hinder our ability to accurately assess whether our technology use is healthy or whether we are developing a dependence to fill a void. Onebright’s BABCP accredited Cognitive Behavioral therapists provide professional, expert access to techniques on how to adopt a balanced and healthy approach when using technology.

We have outlined three simple techniques you can take to easily change your mindset and limit the negative influences of technology and online content.

1. Practice conscious breathing as a way to connect with the present. Regardless of age, gender, sex or fitness, being aware of your breath not only improves your body’s ability to function more efficiently, but it can also improve performance, sleep quality, reduce anxiety and negative thought patterns. Breathing is a simple yet effective technique to help ground us in the present moment. So much of media and news reporting predicts worst-case-scenarios, but it is essential to remember that the future is unwritten, and there is nothing in the present that can hurt you.

2. Reduce daily exposure of information. During the pandemic, knowledge is a lifeline to the world, so it is still essential to be informed about how things are progressing. Follow or connect to news sites that are reliable, objective sources of information. Understand that opinion pieces are just that, opinions, and there are many opinions out there disguised as facts. Don’t be hesitant to unfollow or turn off notifications from people who post harmful content, and lastly, know which channels you can turn to for inspiration and positivity.

3. Express gratitude. Social isolation has helped us to see the importance of daily interactions and the effect this has on our overall well-being. Regardless of whether you were a social butterfly pre-lockdown, or preferred to stay at home, having this choice taken away has highlighted things that we all miss. Express these feelings with loved ones or talk to a therapist about them. When we express gratitude, we focus on what we have, rather than what we think is missing.

Human beings are social creatures and need to feel connected with a sense of purpose. However, it is crucial to be mindful of the content we are consuming and remain critical of its limitations.

Onebright CBT therapists dedicate their time to treating your mental health early and effectively. Our services are available to you during these sometimes isolating and lonely times.

We are here to help you develop techniques that pull you away from consulting social media, and instead, go inward by trusting your ability to have more control over your choices.

Find out about our online and remote therapy options.

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