Updated: Mar 8, 2020
Counting calories isn't for everyone, but it's a well-known fact that a well-balanced diet helps us maintain a well-balanced lifestyle.
When we eat, we consume energy stored in the foods we choose, which then provides the energy needed to keep our bodies working in tip-top shape. Simplified explanation, sure, but we know it well (even if we choose to ignore it sometimes).
Here's the thing.
Our diet doesn't only consist of what we eat and drink.
What we allow into our body - what we consume; whether calories, conversations or social media content - transforms the conditions of our internal environment, and can have lasting negative effects on our wellbeing if we're not mindful of maintaining good balance.
We've been on an SNS binge for years, (can't get enough of those goat yoga videos!!) but how exactly does it affect our wellbeing?
There are a plethora of related articles that cite social isolation, fear of missing out (FOMO), jealousy, lower self-esteem etc. etc. as byproducts of (mis)using social media. Just type 'social media negative impact' into google and you'll be hit with over 800 million results.
These past few weeks have seen us clutching our devices with more intensity (and seemingly compromised powers of discernment) which has left many fearful, misinformed and in a state of panic. Misinformation is rife. Trolls are going viral. Hysteria is impacting significantly higher numbers of people than the coronavirus itself, as we lose ourselves down rabbit holes of opinion posts and pseudoscience.
It's not surprising that in the midst of the COVID19 crisis, many people find themselves stuck in a cycle, glued to their screens, unable to stop scrolling for the latest update, diving into one sensationalist clickbait article after another, checking our phones every.five.minutes.
It's like opening the freezer each time you 'find' yourself in the kitchen, and end up eating an entire tub of chocolate cheesecake ice-cream spoonful-by-spoonful. We keep coming back, like a moth to a flame.
In one Forbes article, Alice G. Walton writes, "Part of the unhealthy cycle is that we keep coming back to social media, even though it doesn’t make us feel very good. This is probably because of what’s known as a forecasting error: Like a drug, we think getting a fix will help, but it actually makes us feel worse, which comes down to an error in our ability to predict our own response."
We think getting a fix will help. That just one more spoonful will do it.
But it doesn't. In fact, it has the opposite effect. Relentless scrolling for the next COVID19 update, the newest fatality statistic, images of church doorways and figures in hazmat suits…it causes unnecessary stress, anxiety, fear and feelings of distress and hopelessness; ultimately making us ill. And perhaps even more worryingly, we may not notice that it's having any effect at all. But, why?
Our brain is predisposed to latch on to negativity, which can stimulate an in-house response to produce cortisol - the body's main stress hormone. It's an essential part of the body's natural 'fight or flight' response, kind of like an in-built red alert system. But what if the body can't move from red alert back to a state of rest and recover?
If the body is in a constant state of stress, perhaps triggered by fear-posting and propaganda *cough cough*, this could lead to some serious damage to our health; emotional, mental and physiological.
According to mayoclinic.org, 'The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems, including:
Memory and concentration impairment
That's why it's so important to learn healthy ways to cope with your life stressors".
Too many stress-inducing SNS posts can lead to a real, negative impact on our health.
So what can we do to say NO to this unbalanced social media diet?
Take time away from those newsfeeds. Turn off alerts for certain groups. Only watch things that give you a boost (goat yoga). Maybe just turn off your phone for a while, and do something else.
There's a great feature on many phones called digital wellbeing. It allows you to set timers for certain apps, records your overall use and where you're spending your time, and how many 'unlocks' and notifications that occur throughout the day. You'll find it in 'settings'.
This was my phone from yesterday.
Pretty shocking to think I spent 5 hours on my phone. 5 hours. And how much of that was useful? Sure I studied an online course, I used my YouTube playlist, but still. I was totally unaware of how much time I spent on Facebook and Kakaotalk.
We ( I ) need to set some healthy boundaries for ourselves.
Every time you reach for your phone, ask yourself this, 'What is my purpose for checking my phone?'
If you can't give yourself a rational, reasonable answer (no BS excuses) then put your phone back down and go do something else. Tango in your living room. Make a paper plane.
Making a mindful decision to stop checking our phones (as often) can break the patterns of behavior we've settled into, allowing us to move outside of harmful 'consumer' habits and move into something that will have a positive impact on our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. We are creatures of habit, so cultivating healthy habits that compliment our lives makes perfect sense.
"SO WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO THEN??"
I dunno. Other stuff.
Engage your brain in some kind of rainy day activities;
Take a walk outside (where appropriate).
Enjoy time with the family. Enjoy time away from the family.
Call a friend. Be a friend.
Do a puzzle.
Drink some tea.
Learn to foxtrot. Tango. Waltz. Twerk.
What makes you feel chilled? Do that.
Nobody says you have to quit your phone!
COVID19 is without doubt a very serious issue, and we should stay up to date and informed, there's no doubt about it. However, the relentless spread of toxic misinformation, or bad content calories, is dangerous, insidious and causing harm to a lot of already anxious people. Make an informed decision to COUNT YOUR CALORIES and take time away from your screen.
Remember that app timer? Set a timer or an alarm once or twice a day to check for the latest updates...
And stick to it!
Here in Korea, for Non-Korean (and Korean) speakers, the following links can provide you with updates of the COVID19 situation in English.
한국 코로나19 발생 관련 업데이트된 정보를 영어로 보시려면 아래 링크를 참조하세요.
▶️ Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (KCDC):
▶️ Ministry of Health and Welfare : http://www.mohw.go.kr/eng
▶️ BeFM English Radio: http://www.befm.or.kr
▶️ TBS eFM Radio: http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/index.do
Nobody says you have to quit social media.
But you owe it to yourself, and those around you, to maintain a healthy, well-balanced social media diet.
Look after yourself and your families, and stay safe both off and online. <3
Lots of love, WellMi.
FROM ANOTHER EXPAT IN KOREA http://joshphilipross.com/ :
Here’s a list of useful links for information on dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in South Korea and globally. Some links are in Korean, so it’s best if you add a translation extension such as Google Translate to your browser. If you have more useful links, please mention them in the comments! We hope to keep this list updated. Government Emergency Ready App Korean government app that provides emergency alerts in English. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details... Itaewon Global Village Center Doing a heroic job of translating government alerts. https://www.facebook.com/itaewonglobalvillage/ Korean Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus-19 page Korean-only (for useful info, anyway), but with links to daily briefings in English and possibly with more coming. http://ncov.mohw.go.kr/index_main.jsp KCDC latest stats Updated twice daily, at 10 am and 6 pm, as far as I know. (So you don’t sit there hitting Refresh all day.) http://ncov.mohw.go.kr/bdBoardList_Real.do?brdId=1... KCDC FAQ (Korean) Helpful if you can translate it. http://ncov.mohw.go.kr/faqBoardList.do?brdId=3... Korea Immigration You should know this one if you’re a foreigner living here, but they have press releases on issues like the visa extension due to the coronavirus. http://www.immigration.go.kr/immigration_eng/index.do World Health Organization Coronavirus website Generally straightforward information from the global organization. https://www.who.int/emerg.../diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 News Yonhap News English Lots of news outlets in Korea, but everyone seems to copy from Yonhap. They seem mainstream and legit, without any obvious partisan bias. https://en.yna.co.kr/ Arirang News For those who like their English-language Korea news televised. https://www.arirang.com/News/News_Index.asp New York Times Coronavirus The Gray Lady has been providing clear, detailed coverage, with reporters on the ground in a lot of places. Scroll down for their feed of the latest updates. https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/coronavirus Travel Global travel restrictions from IATA Tip: Run a browser search for your relevant country. https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/internati.../1580226297.htm Maps Corona Map (Korean) Popular local map that lets you zoom in and get pretty granular. https://coronamap.site/ Johns Hopkins global map Fear-inducing UX design, but a quality global map. https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/.../opsd.../index.html... Statistics wuhanvirus.kr A poorly named site with a ton of statistics. I haven’t checked the sources, but it seems solid. https://wuhanvirus.kr/ Corona-Live Good stats and news feed, available in English. https://corona-live.com/