Social Media Break Can Significantly Improve Mental Health

A social media break could significantly improve overall well-being and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to a new study from the University of Bath.

The researchers examined the mental health effects of stepping away from social media for one week. For some participants, the break freed up about nine hours that they would have normally spent on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

“Social media (SM) has revolutionized how we communicate with each other, allowing users to interact with friends and family and meet others based on shared interests by creating virtual public profiles,” wrote the study authors. “In the United Kingdom, the number of adults using SM has increased from 45 percent in 2011 to 71 percent in 2021.”

The researchers noted that previous studies have found negative relationships between social media use and various mental health indices. For example, a study of US adults showed that participants who used social media the most frequently had much greater odds of suffering from depression.

To investigate the benefits of a social media break, the researchers focused on people between the ages of 18 and 72 who used social media every day. The individuals were randomly assigned to either stop using social media platforms altogether for seven days or to continue their social media engagement as usual.

At the beginning of the study, the participants had reported spending an average of eight hours per week on social media. Those who took a break showed significant improvements in well-being, depression, and anxiety.

“Scrolling social media is so ubiquitous that many of us do it almost without thinking from the moment we wake up to when we close our eyes at night,” said lead researcher Dr. Jeff Lambert.

“We know that social media usage is huge and that there are increasing concerns about its mental health effects, so with this study, we wanted to see whether simply asking people to take a week’s break could yield mental health benefits.”

“Many of our participants reported positive effects from being off social media with improved mood and less anxiety overall. This suggests that even just a small break can have an impact.”

“Of course, social media is a part of life and for many people, it’s an indispensable part of who they are and how they interact with others. But if you are spending hours each week scrolling and you feel it is negatively impacting you, it could be worth cutting down on your usage to see if it helps.”

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

Source: Social media break can significantly improve mental health • Earth.com

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By: Zia Sherrell

Social media has associations with depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation, particularly among heavy users. A 2015 Common Sense survey found that teenagers may spend as much as 9 hours of each day online. Many of these individuals are themselves concerned that they spend too much time browsing social networks. This wave of concern suggests that social media could affect the mental health of its users.

The researchers behind a 2017 Canadian study confirmed this finding. They noted that students who use social media for more than 2 hours daily are considerably more likely to rate their mental health as fair or poor than occasional users. A 2019 studyTrusted Source tied social media use to disrupted and delayed sleep. Regular, high quality sleep is essential for well-being, and evidence shows that sleeping problems contribute to adverse mental health effects, such as depression and memory loss.

Aside from the adverse effects on sleep, social media may trigger mental health struggles by exposing individuals to cyberbullying. In a 2020 survey of more than 6,000 individuals aged 10–18 years, researchers found that about half of them had experienced cyberbullying. One of the downsides of social media platforms is that they give individuals the opportunity to start or spread harmful rumors and use abusive words that can leave people with lasting emotional scars.

Although social media may not play a role in each of these incidences, the time frame correlates with the growing use of these platforms. A 2021 study confirms this effect. The researchers reported that while social media use had a minimal impact on boys’ risk of suicide, girls who used social media for at least 2 hours each day from the age of 13 years had a higher clinical risk of suicide as adults. Furthermore, findings from a population-based study show a decline in mental health in the U.S., with a 37% increase in the likelihood of major depressive episodes among adolescents.

A 2019 studyTrusted Source suggested that teenagers who use social media for more than 3 hours daily are more likely to experience mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, aggression, and antisocial behavior.

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The Health Benefits of Coffee

Americans sure love their coffee. Even last spring when the pandemic shut down New York, nearly every neighborhood shop that sold takeout coffee managed to stay open, and I was amazed at how many people ventured forth to start their stay-at-home days with a favorite store-made brew.

One elderly friend who prepandemic had traveled from Brooklyn to Manhattan by subway to buy her preferred blend of ground coffee arranged to have it delivered. “Well worth the added cost,” she told me. I use machine-brewed coffee from pods, and last summer when it seemed reasonably safe for me to shop I stocked up on a year’s supply of the blends I like. (Happily, the pods are now recyclable.)

All of us should be happy to know that whatever it took to secure that favorite cup of Joe may actually have helped to keep us healthy. The latest assessments of the health effects of coffee and caffeine, its main active ingredient, are reassuring indeed. Their consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of all kinds of ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, gallstones, depression, suicide, cirrhosis, liver cancer, melanoma and prostate cancer.

In fact, in numerous studies conducted throughout the world, consuming four or five eight-ounce cups of coffee (or about 400 milligrams of caffeine) a day has been associated with reduced death rates. In a study of more than 200,000 participants followed for up to 30 years, those who drank three to five cups of coffee a day, with or without caffeine, were 15 percent less likely to die early from all causes than were people who shunned coffee. Perhaps most dramatic was a 50 percent reduction in the risk of suicide among both men and women who were moderate coffee drinkers, perhaps by boosting production of brain chemicals that have antidepressant effects.

As a report published last summer by a research team at the Harvard School of Public Health concluded, although current evidence may not warrant recommending coffee or caffeine to prevent disease, for most people drinking coffee in moderation “can be part of a healthy lifestyle.”

It wasn’t always thus. I’ve lived through decades of sporadic warnings that coffee could be a health hazard. Over the years, coffee’s been deemed a cause of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, pancreatic cancer, anxiety disorder, nutrient deficiencies, gastric reflux disease, migraine, insomnia, and premature death. As recently as 1991, the World Health Organization listed coffee as a possible carcinogen. In some of the now-discredited studies, smoking, not coffee drinking (the two often went hand-in-hand) was responsible for the purported hazard.

“These periodic scares have given the public a very distorted view,” said Dr. Walter C. Willett, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Overall, despite various concerns that have cropped up over the years, coffee is remarkably safe and has a number of important potential benefits.”

That’s not to say coffee warrants a totally clean bill of health. Caffeine crosses the placenta into the fetus, and coffee drinking during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight and premature birth. Pregnancy alters how the body metabolizes caffeine, and women who are pregnant or nursing are advised to abstain entirely, stick to decaf or at the very least limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams a day, the amount in about two standard cups of American coffee.

The most common ill effect associated with caffeinated coffee is sleep disturbance. Caffeine locks into the same receptor in the brain as the neurotransmitter adenosine, a natural sedative. Dr. Willett, a co-author of the Harvard report, told me, “I really do love coffee, but I have it only occasionally because otherwise I don’t sleep very well. Lots of people with sleep problems don’t recognize the connection to coffee.”

In discussing his audiobook on caffeine with Terry Gross on NPR last winter, Michael Pollan called caffeine “the enemy of good sleep” because it interferes with deep sleep. He confessed that after the challenging task of weaning himself from coffee, he “was sleeping like a teenager again.”

Dr. Willett, now 75, said, “You don’t have to get to zero consumption to minimize the impact on sleep,” but he acknowledged that a person’s sensitivity to caffeine “probably increases with age.” People also vary widely in how rapidly they metabolize caffeine, enabling some to sleep soundly after drinking caffeinated coffee at dinner while others have trouble sleeping if they have coffee at lunch. But even if you can fall asleep readily after an evening coffee, it may disrupt your ability to get adequate deep sleep, Mr. Pollan states in his forthcoming book, “This Is Your Mind on Plants.”

Dr. Willett said it’s possible to develop a degree of tolerance to caffeine’s effect on sleep. My 75-year-old brother, an inveterate imbiber of caffeinated coffee, claims it has no effect on him. However, acquiring a tolerance to caffeine could blunt its benefit if, say, you wanted it to help you stay alert and focused while driving or taking a test.

Caffeine is one of more than a thousand chemicals in coffee, not all of which are beneficial. Among others with positive effects are polyphenols and antioxidants. Polyphenols can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes; antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory effects, can counter both heart disease and cancer, the nation’s leading killers.

None of this means coffee is beneficial regardless of how it’s prepared. When brewed without a paper filter, as in French press, Norwegian boiled coffee, espresso or Turkish coffee, oily chemicals called diterpenes come through that can raise artery-damaging LDL cholesterol. However, these chemicals are virtually absent in both filtered and instant coffee. Knowing I have a cholesterol problem, I dissected a coffee pod and found a paper filter lining the plastic cup. Whew!

Also countering the potential health benefits of coffee are popular additions some people use, like cream and sweet syrups, that can convert this calorie-free beverage into a calorie-rich dessert. “All the things people put into coffee can result in a junk food with as many as 500 to 600 calories,” Dr. Willett said. A 16-ounce Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino, for example, has 51 grams of sugar, 15 grams of fat (10 of them saturated) and 370 calories.

With iced coffee season approaching, more people are likely to turn to cold-brew coffee. Now rising in popularity, cold brew counters coffee’s natural acidity and the bitterness that results when boiling water is poured over the grounds. Cold brew is made by steeping the grounds in cold water for several hours, then straining the liquid through a paper filter to remove the grounds and harmful diterpenes and keep the flavor and caffeine for you to enjoy. Cold brew can also be made with decaffeinated coffee.

Decaf is not totally without health benefits. As with caffeinated coffee, the polyphenols it contains have anti-inflammatory properties that may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Jane E. Brody

 

 

Source: The Health Benefits of Coffee – The New York Times

Contents to read:

Four out of five people say that they suffer from sleep problems at least once a week and wake up feeling exhausted. Here’s a guide to becoming a more successful sleeper.

Stretching and meditative movement like yoga before bed can improve the quality of your sleep and the amount you sleep. Try this short and calming routine of 11 stretches and exercises.

Nearly 40 percent of people surveyed in a recent study reported having more or much more trouble than usual during the pandemic. Follow these seven simple steps for improving your shut-eye.

When it comes to gadgets that claim to solve your sleep problems, newer doesn’t always mean better. Here are nine tools for better, longer sleep.

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Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds of berries from certain Coffea species. All fruit must be further processed from a raw material—the fruit and seed—into a stable, raw product; un-roasted, green coffee. To process the berries, the seed is separated from the fruit to produce green coffee. Green coffee is then roasted, a process which transforms the raw product (green coffee) into a consumable product (roasted coffee). Roasted coffee is ground into a powder and mixed with water to produce a cup of coffee.

Coffee is darkly colored, bitter, slightly acidic and has a stimulating effect in humans, primarily due to its caffeine content. It is one of the most popular drinks in the world, and can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways (e.g., espresso, French press, caffè latte, or already-brewed canned coffee). It is usually served hot, although chilled or iced coffee is common. Sugar, sugar substitutes, milk or cream are often used to lessen the bitter taste. It may be served with coffee cake or another sweet dessert like doughnuts. A commercial establishment that sells prepared coffee beverages is known as a coffee shop (not to be confused with Dutch coffeeshops selling cannabis).

Market volatility, and thus increased returns, during 1830 encouraged Brazilian entrepreneurs to shift their attention from gold to coffee, a crop hitherto reserved for local consumption. Concurrent with this shift was the commissioning of vital infrastructures, including approximately 7,000 km of railroads between 1860 and 1885. The creation of these railways enabled the importation of workers, in order to meet the enormous need for labor. This development primarily affected the State of Rio de Janeiro, as well as the Southern States of Brazil, most notably São Paulo, due to its favorable climate, soils, and terrain.

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Prisoner, Wife Allegedly Commit Suicide During Visiting Hours – ASEAN Plus

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The Lumajang Police have reported that a prisoner and his wife allegedly committed suicide during visiting hours at the Lumajang Penitentiary Class II-B in East Java on Friday.

The Lumajang Police’s criminal investigation unit head, AKP Hasran, said the prisoner, 30, and his wife, 18, died after drinking the same beverage.

“The wife and the prisoner’s mother brought him a meal that had been checked by penitentiary officers,” Hasran said on Friday.

He explained that, according to information gathered, the prisoner asked for plastic cups from the canteen officer. He then poured the beverage into the plastic cups for himself and his wife.

“After a while, as they were hugging each other, they both laid down and experienced shortness of breath,” he said.

The penitentiary officers and several prisoners brought them to the polyclinic but they died shortly afterwards, Hasran added.

The police took the bottle and the plastic cups used by the victims to the East Java Police forensic laboratory in Surabaya for examination.

The police have also requested Lumajang Hospital to perform an autopsy on the bodies. – The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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Mental Health and Suicide: Could it be Unrelated? — journey to hope and healing

Someone brought up a very interesting point here. Can someone commit suicide and not have depression, mental illnesses, not addiction related, or any of the other stereotypes involved with suicide? There have been so much suicide in the news recently. The CDC states that suicide is on the rise. Two well known celebrities, Kate Spade […]

via Mental Health and Suicide: Could it be Unrelated? — journey to hope and healing

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Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade And The Question Of Why – Henna Inam

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The question “why?” has been reverberating through my head.

This week, many of us experienced a stunned sadness. The suicides of two celebrities, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, left us wondering what happened. What did we miss?

The Bourdain and Spade suicides have opened up new questions about my assumptions about dream careers.

Bourdain and Spade had achieved significant success. They were at the top of their fields. They were engaged in work that they were passionate about.

They had fame. They had fortune.

 They had somehow figured out their unique talents and were fully expressing them to create positive impact for so many.

They had family and friends who loved them and fans who adored them.

The place they reached is the place many of us aspire to. For many of us, isn’t the dream to find our passion? To connect with our talents? To live our passions out loud? To impact others positively? To love and be loved? To find work that is not just a paycheck but fills us? Isn’t this what self-actualization is about? I imagine nirvana lives just on the other side of self-actualization. Does it?

At the height of what seemed on the outside were enviable lives well lived, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain chose to end it all.

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I am not a mental health expert. I can’t even begin to fathom what was going through their minds when they made the decision to leave. But, here are some questions that are going through my mind this week. I urge us to reflect on these questions as we go about pursuing our dream careers:

Most of us assume that we will be happy when (fill in the blank). The fill in the blank can be the next achievement, the corner office, the success of the side gig, the perfect partner. What if we will not be happy “when”?

I imagine both Bourdain and Spade experienced some sense of emptiness or despair. As we go about pursuing dreams important to us, what are the just-beneath-the-surface moments of emptiness we feel? What is the emptiness we avoid? What do we seek on the outside to fill that emptiness?

Suicide rates have increased by 25% in the last 20 years. Almost always, loved ones are surprised. Who are the people that we can reach out to help us when we feel despair? Who are the people in our lives we can reach out to, to be of help? What are the signs we need to be aware of?

There is still too much shame around mental health issues. How do we as a society and as individuals stop hiding behind masks of perfect Facebook-worthy lives? How do we acknowledge our humanity to others in a vulnerable way? How do we create the space for others to share what’s not perfect in their lives?

What is the cost to us of creating a public persona that is all about the positive? Success. Fun. Fame. Adventure. How painful and lonely must be the discord between the real experience of emptiness and the image of fullness that we feel we must display to the world.

What if our assumptions about the pursuit of the dream that will ultimately make us happy and successful are wrong? What if there is a dark underbelly of the human experience in each of us that we’re missing as we seek self-actualization? What would it be like to claim that dark underbelly? To accept that we are each flawed and that may never change? To accept that there is less within our control than we would like to accept?

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Would our dreams be different if they emerged from an acknowledgment of our imperfections and most painful emotions?

I imagine that each one of us will have different answers to these questions. I leave you with a quote from Bourdain in celebration of being curious: “That without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, moribund.”

What are the questions you have as you process the passing of Bourdain and Spade? I welcome your thoughts and reflections.

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