When Do Fun Distractions Become Unhealthy?

TV remote

In need of a little me-time? Zoning out feels like low-stakes self-care. So does popping open an extra bag of Pirate’s Booty — at least you’re not chugging vodka, right? Scrolling through Instagram for three hours takes your mind off a bad work day. Scandal is best binge-watched, and dedicating an entire day (or two, or three) to The Sims is the only way to win the Legacy Challenge.

There’s no harm in distracting yourself occasionally. Holing up for one weekend to ram through Red Dead Redemption 2 won’t cause too many negative implications — but if you’re wasting every weekend and every evening on distractions, you might find yourself floundering physically, emotionally and socially. Distractions can be damaging, whether it’s scrolling, emotional eating, Netflix-ing until dawn, or playing too-many video games. Continue reading When Do Fun Distractions Become Unhealthy?

4 Ways to Stop Relying on External Validation

instagram like neon sign

You probably know excessive scrolling is bad for your mental health.

It’s well documented that heavy social-media use leads to depression and anxiety — especially in teenagers and children. Although most of us understand that social media encourages unhealthy comparisons of ourselves to others, we continue to crave “likes” like candy.

That’s because what we’re really seeking is external validation, and though social media is the latest — and perhaps most pervasive — expression of this reliance, it’s by no means limited to the device in your pocket. Continue reading 4 Ways to Stop Relying on External Validation

How to Help an Online Friend in Need

lost phone in the woods

Being a good friend means being there for someone while they’re hitting some bumps in the road. It means offering love and support when you notice someone needs it the most. It can mean simply being a shoulder for them to cry on — but that can be hard to do when it comes to helping an online friend, someone you may never have met in person.

With everyone spending more and more time online, online friendships are becoming more and more common. Online is no longer just to maintain friendships made at school or work, but also to forge entirely new ones with peers while browsing social networks or playing online games. Similarly, your feed is also likely filled with friends you haven’t seen or spoken to in years — fringe friends from high school, old acquaintances, and former coworkers — people who are far from your best buds, but whose startling posts or cries for help can make you worry just the same. Continue reading How to Help an Online Friend in Need

4 Reasons Young People Are Struggling With Mental Health Issues

Sign that reads: "We don't have time"

Today’s generation of young people are experiencing more mental health issues than ever.

According to the World Health Organization, 10-20% of children and adolescents worldwide experience mental health disorders. The American Journal of Managed Care cites that “between 2008 and 2017, the amount of adults that experienced serious psychological distress in the last month increased among most age groups, with the largest increases seen among younger adults aged 18-25 (71%).” Continue reading 4 Reasons Young People Are Struggling With Mental Health Issues

The Psychology Behind “Trolling”

woman looking down at laptop

In her book Shrill, writer Lindy West describes a day in 2013 when she received a Twitter message from Paul West. Of course, this was impossible — Paul West was her father, and he had recently died of cancer. The impersonator’s message was cruel (the bio alone read “embarrassed father of an idiot”), and while West was no stranger to cruel comments from strangers on the internet, this, she said on an episode of NPR podcast This American Life, “was the meanest thing anyone’s ever done to me.”

The internet age has made everything more available, more accessible, more visible. For many reasons this is an incredibly positive thing — think of how much more information is at our fingertips! The ability to learn is now as fast as your WiFi speed. Not only that, but our personal and professional lives are exposed to many more people. These current strangers might be able to follow our lives, hire us for jobs, and keep up with our recent vacations. Continue reading The Psychology Behind “Trolling”

How to Not Lose Summer Break to Your Phone

group of girls on a boat staring at a phone

Isn’t it funny how we spend all year waiting for summer to come, but when it gets here, we all just sit around staring at our phones? Instead of enjoying the sun, we find ourselves doing what we’ve been doing all year — endlessly scrolling and tapping, tagging the person across the room in a meme instead of walking over and showing it to them.

Because we’re so attached to our devices, it’s hard to change habits. However, this comes with the risk of losing your entire summer to your phone. Continue reading How to Not Lose Summer Break to Your Phone

How to Have a Comparison-Free Summer

woman on the beach on her phone looking away

Sometimes it feels like my friends are out of my league.

Among them are doctors, social workers, professors and entrepreneurs, all successfully balancing high-level careers, personal lives, and physical health. One of them can work for several months straight without a single day off; meanwhile, sometimes it takes me several hours just to get out of bed.

Does that mean I’m lazy? Less than? Continue reading How to Have a Comparison-Free Summer

Why It’s so Hard to Put Down Your Phone as a Teen

Teen looking at their phone at night

Being a teen is hard enough. Being a teen in 2019 is even harder.

Not only do you face normal teen pressures like studying for the SATs and asking your crush to prom but you have the added pressure of staying connected with family and friends 24/7 through social media.

A recent Pew Research Center study found that 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one and 45% of teens say they are online on a near-constant basis. In addition to Facebook (which 51% of teens report using), the study found that YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are the most popular online platforms among teens. Continue reading Why It’s so Hard to Put Down Your Phone as a Teen

This is Your Brain on Instagram

Social media brain

When is the last time you took the elevator, rode the subway, or waited in line at the grocery store without getting sucked into Instagram? My answer to this question is bleak.

Instagram hit 1 billion monthly users in the summer of 2018, and has been experiencing faster growth than the oh-so-popular Facebook and Snapchat platforms. What’s behind our collective desire to incessantly check this simple, yet tantalizing photo-sharing app? Here’s what the research says. Continue reading This is Your Brain on Instagram

4 Ways to Ditch the Comparison Game on Social

two women take a selfie while one blows a bubble

The 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, famously once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This couldn’t be more true now that comparisons take place 24/7 online. When you compare, your view becomes distorted — you diminish your own value, disconnect yourself for your own life and relationships, and feel depleted — and yet we all do it and can’t stop.

Continue reading 4 Ways to Ditch the Comparison Game on Social