Creating a healthy online life during the lockdown

Lockdown, by necessity, means spending a lot of time in front of screens – whether watching Netflix or chatting to our friends over Zoom.

While technology has undoubtedly helped keep us connected, entertained, and working during the global Covid19 pandemic, it has its limitations. During this period of elevated stress, immersing ourselves in negative news and opinions on social media can have an impact on our mental health, and so can spending hours uninterrupted in front of the screen.

We explore how to maintain a balanced and healthy online life during this tricky period.

Muting keywords on social media

Social media sites like Twitter are a key news source for many of us these days – in fact, in a survey by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that half of those surveyed use social media as a news source.

While it’s clearly important to keep track of news, particularly at this time, it’s also important to realise that social media accounts don’t maintain the sort of editorial guidelines that you’d expect from ‘traditional’ news sources like the BBC for instance. That means that amongst the news reported on social media are a mix of opinions and perspectives.

Additionally, it can be impactful to continue seeing the same negative news stories repeatedly. Of course, only you can judge how much of this content you actually want to expose yourself to – but at any rate, it’s important to know that you do have control over how much of this you see on social media.

In order to refine the results you see on social media channels, you can mute words and hashtags. This helps you curate the content that appears on your timeline, allowing you to have editorial autonomy on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Our quick tips for how you actually mute words and hashtags on social media can be found here.

Separating work and social lives

With so much of our lives spent indoors and oriented around screens at the moment, it can be hard to separate our work and social times – particularly if you’re signing off work in the evening, only to start watching a show on the same laptop moments later. It can often feel like we’re not drawing a line under our workdays at all, making it hard to relax and meaning our stress levels stay high.

We also realise it can be unrealistic to recommend we put away all tech once the working day is done. After all, video games, streaming services and children’s TV shows are important outlets for winding down in these constrained times – but there are some things you can do to create this break in your day.

It’s important to use cut-offs in the day, whether natural (such as dinner) or of your own creation (like going for a run after work). Even if it’s only for 30 minutes, a short break from your screen can help you to reset.

If you are your own worst enemy and tend to let work slip into the evening, then it might be worth scheduling virtual classes or calls in the evening. These can force you to break late working bad habits and have an endpoint to work towards in your day.

Staying mindful online

While it’s important to take time away from screens for our mental health, there are also a number of online apps and programmes that can help to clear your head.

Meditation, for example, can help you to reduce stress and improve your happiness – when combined with healthy eating and exercise.

If you haven’t practiced meditation before, the HeadSpace app is a good starting point. The app is currently also offering a year free of Headspace Plus if you’re unemployed.

Want other tips on how to stay healthy and happy at home? Check out our other posts on the subject here: