Tragedy seems to be everywhere today. COVID-19, wars, famine, economic despair, and the troubles of our own personal lives compound and can cause us a lot of depression, anxiety, and discomfort. We are also more connected to each other than ever before. With each technological progression, the world grows smaller and smaller. We know the ins and outs of political strife, economic downturn, and war in countries miles and miles away. We are inundated with alerts, notifications, pings, and dings that inform us of every new terrible occurrence the world over. This can cause us a great deal of pain and discomfort, as we are powerless to right the wrongs of the world despite being made aware of them. This is why it is critical to your mental health to know when to disconnect now and then from the stream of tragedy that seems to permeate every aspect of our modern lives. It may seem cold and callous, but it is imperative to your well-being to know when to unplug.
Timelines, Tragedy, and Misery
As smartphones become more common in both the developed and developing worlds, many people turn to social media for news, connecting with friends, finding jobs, or just as a cure for boredom. The connection between mental health and our use of social media has been well studied by scientists for over a decade now. Studies within the last 18 months have also shown that a constant stream of tragedy in the news is also bad for our mental health.
The connection between tragic news and its effect on our collective mental health is not new, however, what researchers have been studying over the last decade is the effects of the consistency with which such news is delivered. Before the invention and widespread use of smartphones, the news was primarily consumed at home through television or newspapers. Now, we carry the pains and struggles of the world right in our pockets. Because many of us are connected with our smartphones, unplugging and disconnecting can often be difficult. However, researchers have found that it is beneficial to our emotional health if we occasionally find the time and will to do so.
The Reality of Smartphone Addiction
When you think of addiction, what comes to mind? For many of us, we think of things like alcoholism, substance abuse, and gambling. There is another very prevalent and often overlooked addiction that causes a lot of stress and strife for many people: smartphone addiction. Because many aspects of our personal and professional lives are now tethered to our smartphones, we find ourselves constantly exposed to global tragedy, loss, and despair. Not only that, research has shown that every time we receive a like, notification, or message, our brains deliver a rush of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in the brain’s reward system. How can you take a break from something that has become so integral to modern life while also giving your brain a little happiness boost? Our emails, work schedules, rent portals, and bills are now tethered to a device that also informs us of every new tragedy, every minute of every hour.
The short, hard answer is this: if you find that you are feeling hopeless about the problems of the world and that you are constantly scrolling and scrolling reading sad, tragic stories that span the globe, you may need to take a break from your phone.
Disconnecting and Reconnecting
Setting boundaries with yourself is one of the many tools at your disposal when you are trying to work through emotional issues, addictions, and mental health crises. One of the ways we can set boundaries with our use of our phones is finding the time to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with the real world around us. If you are constantly on your phone and feel depressed, anxious, and hopeless about the tragedies of the world, there are ways to healthily disconnect and “unplug.”
There are apps, like Screen Time for Apple, that track your daily usage. You could start by setting a limit for your daily use that is less than what you use normally. Some people find that going for a hike or a walk outdoors and leaving their phones at home allows them to take a short break without committing long-term to completely disconnecting. Others have found that if you can afford it, going on a vacation and leaving your phone at the hotel while you explore the city is a great way to alleviate the initial anxiety that can come on shortly after trying to limit your phone use.
Whatever your tactic may be, it is important to remember that it is okay to disconnect from tragedy on demand. It is not callous, cold, or apathetic to put your emotional needs first.
Consuming a seemingly never-ending stream of tragic news stories and updates can take a toll on our mental and emotional health. If you already suffer from mental and emotional disorders, having constant access to this type of media can exacerbate these issues. This is made worse by the fact that many aspects of our personal and professional lives are tethered to our smartphones. If you find that you are constantly scrolling and it is causing you distress, misery, and anxiety, we at Achieve Concierge are here to help. At Achieve Concierge, we pride ourselves on offering our members a wide array of on-demand mental health services. We offer comprehensive, tailored treatment plans for adults, teens, and children. From cognitive-behavioral therapy to same-day mental health services for members, our team of caring professionals is here to help you. Please do not wait or hesitate, contact our team Achieve Concierge by phone today at +1 (619) 393-5871.