Can Instagram Ease The Pain Of Social Distancing?

Photographed by Michael Beckert.
If you’re anything like me, your screen time is way up amidst the coronavirus outbreak. We have more time on our hands — and we're eager to connect with people through video conferencing and social media. Instagram knows this, and the platform has decided to partner with The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) for a week of sharing resources that will help you look after yourself.
They’re asking experts and influencers to offer advice on how they’re taking care of themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, actress Corinne Foxx kicked off the campaign on April 6, going on NAMI’s Instagram story to tell viewers how she keeps her anxiety in check. Her tips included exercising, meditating, limiting her news intake, and expressing herself through art. Comedian Kelsey Darragh was also featured, and told NAMI followers: "It's enough to just be surviving right now."
NAMI will be posting similar tips throughout the week letting followers know they’re not alone, explains Ken Duckworth, MD, NAMI’s chief medical officer.
“This pandemic affects everyone — and I mean everyone,” Dr. Duckworth says. “At NAMI we say 'you are not alone,' and it has never been more true than now. People are anxious about the disease, about their families, about their economic situations. Isolation can be particularly difficult, especially for long periods of time. And there is still uncertainty about the future of this pandemic, which activates anxiety and, in some people, a trauma response."
Dr. Duckworth urges people to take simple steps to maintain their connection with others. “Make sure you have contact information for your close friends and family and keep in touch by phone, email, social media, or video calls,” he recommends. “Communicate with someone every day, in some way."
Liking, commenting, and posting on social media platforms can help you avoid loneliness and isolation. “Social media can be an incredible force for good during [social] distancing by helping you keep up with people you care about,” he says.
But too much can also be draining and stressful, which is why Dr. Duckworth acknowledges that people should use platforms like Instagram in moderation. “Controlling one’s dose of overstimulating information is essential for anxiety management," Duckworth says. "You can get information overload from social media in the same way as news media, so consider setting limits on how much time you spend on your social media platforms."
The bottom line: Scroll mindfully.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the Public Health Agency of Canada website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.

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