The internet is a wonderful, magical, terrible, beautiful, terrifying thing. It’s almost impossible to picture what life was like without it (it was worse), such is its influence on so many areas of our lives. But a cool thing can sometimes be too cool. It can become all-consuming, and swallow up your time and attention. So here are some easy and effective tips to keep your mental health in check online:
1. Take regular breaks to decompress
Being online can be incredible. Hours fly by while you surf any kind of content that you could possibly ask for. But spending all day staring at a screen is objectively a buckwild thing to do. Take a second to imagine you’re a dog and you’re watching a human using a computer – it would look super weird; just a person sat there, perfectly still, with their eyes wide open, barely moving. Take some breaks to rest your eyes – and your brain. It’s good for your mind to be stimulated, but like any muscle, it needs breaks too. (The brain is actually an organ not a muscle, but you get the idea).
2. Don’t forget to help your mind
Your physical health goes hand in hand with your mental health. Make sure to take regular breaks from being online to eat regularly, drink water (your brain loves water) and get some fresh air. It’s astounding how much better you can feel if you take a short walk outside after a day spent indoors. Getting some sunlight can also better your mood thanks to that sweet, sweet vitamin D, baby!
3. Don’t linger on things that bother you
While it’s healthy to challenge yourself and engage with viewpoints that differ from yours, it’s important to not spend too much time in a stressful mental environment. If you catch yourself in an internet debate or YouTube video blackhole that leaves you stressed out or depressed, step away from it, take a break and assess if it’s actually worth your time. If it’s important, you’ll come back to it later. If it isn’t, move on.
4. Don’t let the internet replace human interaction
The internet can be incredibly engaging; it opens up a whole set of new avenues for communication with others, but it can’t replace face-to-face interaction. Humans are inherently social creatures and extended isolation can be very bad for your mental health, as evidenced by this case of a girl who was diagnosed with ‘internet addiction’.
5. Make time for sleep. Beautiful, delicious sleep
Who among us has not glanced at the clock during a Tumblr, Twitter, (insert chosen website here) binge? Heck, you’re probably in the middle of one now. Internet bingeing has become part of everyday life. But as hard as it can be to tear yourself away from the internet’s soft, gentle and terrifying embrace – you have to make some time for sleep. Lack of sleep is no good for your big, smart brain and will almost certainly impact your mood. Get some solid hours each night – and as an added bonus it means you’ll be able to get up earlier to squeeze in even more hours of internet surfing.