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Facebook Use Linked To Depression: How To ‘Unplug’ From Technology

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A new study reveals that comparing yourself to your friends on Facebook is relevant to onset depression symptoms. Here are easy ways on how to temporarily detach yourself from using social media and technology altogether.

A new research study has found that the competitive atmosphere inherent in Facebook posts goes “hand in hand” with manifestation of depressed feelings.

Comparing yourself with other people on Facebook

Facebook is crowded with vacation pictures, engagement announcements, photos of people?s luxury escapades, comments from friends and other seemingly important life events that it?s hard not to compare yourself with those who posted them. It can be depressing, a study by University of Houston researchers shows.

In a paper published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology entitled ?Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms? University of Houston researcher Mai-Ly Steers used and expanded on earlier studies about the harmful effects of Facebook, particularly relevant to the unrealistic expectations of people?s quality of life that it creates.

The researchers conducted two studies involving over 300 students from a large southwestern university. Both of them showed that people felt depressed more than they used to because they?ve made comparisons between themselves and their peers on Facebook.

Steers, who is a doctoral candidate and the study?s co-author, mentioned in a statement that people should feel good after using Facebook. However, she shared that there?s also an unintended consequence–that is if you compare yourself to your Facebook friends? ?highlight reels,? you may see a distorted view of their lives and feel that you don?t measure up to them, which can result in depressive symptoms. ?It doesn?t mean Facebook causes depression, but that depressed feelings and lots of time on Facebook and comparing oneself to others tend to go hand in hand,? she further said.

Having a ?technology vacation?

The researchers hope that the study will highlight that even though technological advances have made our lives convenient in many aspects, they are not always positive for society. They think that their work will pave the way for developing future interventions that target the reduction of Facebook use among those at risk for depression.

A study like this is not the first to reveal Facebook?s varying detrimental effect to our health. Connecting to your friends is good but it?s crucial to realize when to stop using social media and when to set boundaries. As such, we?ve rounded up a few things you can do to ?unplug? your tech-tethered life, at least temporarily.

Switch off your phone from time to time.

Like when when you go jogging or have a walk with your dog. If you?re feeling more radical, just leave your phone at home. Doing this will free your mind just by knowing that you won?t be interrupted.

?Do less every morning.?

That?s one of Dr. Frank Lipman?s tips on how to disconnect from technology. He suggested that you should wake up, meditate, shower, dress, have breakfast with your family, go through your morning routine?all without turning on the radio, TV, or your phone or computer that only serves to compete for your attention. To start, he explained that you can try doing this once a week and add more days incrementally.

If it?s your day off from work or school, mean it!

Aim to make your weekends and vacations your true relaxation times, and not just milder versions of your workdays. Make use of those out-of-office notification setting on your work email and combat the urge to reply to emails until just a few hours prior your scheduled response. If it can?t be helped and not replying puts your livelihood at risk, inform your colleagues politely that you will be checking emails at select times and will be able to respond only to the most important ones. If you do your best to value your off duty hours, so will they.

Engage in activities that make it impossible for you to use technology

The simplest way to ?unplug? is probably to add hobbies or activities to your life that will render you incapable of holding a digital device in your hand. There are lots of activities like those but some, such as yoga, hiking, or running, will not only prevent you from checking your Facebook news feed every minute, they?ll also clear your head and make you physically fit.

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