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Many Americans Pause Social Media as National Tensions Rise

MONDAY, Aug. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have prompted some Americans to take a break from social media, new research finds.

The national survey by Ohio State Wexner Medical Center of 2,000 people found that 56% changed their social media habits because of tensions brought on by current U.S. events.

While 29% said their social media use increased because of these tensions, 20% said they had taken breaks from social media.

"Stepping away and reconnecting with reality offline is an important step to take for your mental health," said Ken Yeager, director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience Program at the medical center.

"Being constantly immersed in this stressful environment and being overexposed to contentious or traumatic events can make you feel like the world is a less safe place to be," Yeager said in a center news release. "And because these stressors have persisted over a long period of time, it's wearing on people's ability to cope with that stress."

The stress resulting from these events has increased depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and substance abuse, Yeager added.

"Even though you can't control what happens on social media, it's important to recognize how it may affect you and take steps to limit your exposure," Yeager said.

These tips can help:

  • Get off the internet and stop scrolling social media. Instead, reconnect with family and friends.

  • Volunteer in your community. Doing good in your community can help you realize what's truly important.

  • Make your concerns known. Involved yourself in issues that are important to you. Being part of the process can empower and calm.

  • Talk to family and friends about what's important and how these issues affect them. This can help you understand their concerns.

  • If you feel panicked or have difficulty controlling your mood or connecting with others, see a mental health professional to learn ways to cope.

More information

For more on COVID-19 mental health, head to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, news release, Aug. 3, 2020

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