Knowing how to properly identify and neutralize triggers is an important part of social-media engagement. Following are some tips that can help you avoid self-destructive media habits. Skill-Building Strategies Identify triggers that lead to self-destructive social-media habits. In this realm are those sensory and visceral experiences which are denied to awareness because they are inconsistent with the structure of the self. Specific Illustrations The letters in the circles may be regarded as elements of experience. By giving them specific content we may illustrate the functioning of personality. Let us take first a somewhat minor example as illustrated in Figure I. Figure I * The Total Personality This is an introjected concept and its associated value, taken over by the individual from his parents. The quotation marks indicate that it is perceived as if it were the direct sensory experience of failure with all mechanical things, but it is not. The experience was, My parents regard me as inadequate in the mechanical field; The basic reason for the distortion is to guard against losing the important part of the self-structure, I am loved by my parents. Nutrition's role in good health is wildly exaggerated and misunderstood. Even in diseases where food choices play a more explicit role in management--as in celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or heartburn--a focus on putting what you know about how foods affect your disease into the context of your life is key to being able to implement any dietary changes. I'm not suggesting people ignore nutrition entirely--just that we put it into perspective. You need a critical mind to do that. We build our lives and identities around powerful myths. We're fed fantasies that eating a certain way leads to easy weight loss, guaranteed health, or simple self-cures.

It's easy to get suckered in. But I assure you, there is no magic in eating in a particular way. EATING THROUGH A SYSTEMS-INFORMED LENS Consider this anecdote: A woman believes that she is too fat and wants to lose weight. Triggers are people, places, and things that remind us of a past trauma or upsetting event. Triggers can cause us to feel overwhelming sadness, anxiety, or panic. As for social media, it's important that we gain an understanding of our particular triggers so we can put a plan in place to avoid exposing ourselves to content that will cause us pain. Below are a few suggestions to help. Friend people you either know or want to get to know because you share similar interests. Having a good sense of who is most likely going to pop up on your news feed naturally diminishes triggers. Stick with only one or two social-media platforms. Keeping up with multiple social-media platforms is not only anxiety producing, it's also time-consuming. And not having the time to complete important tasks only adds to our anxiety and depression. Check in with yourself before logging on. This leads to a feeling which may be schematized thus: I want to be acceptable to my parents and hence must experience myself as being the sort of person they think I am. This is a direct experience which has occurred a number of times. These experiences are assimilated into the structure of self because they are consistent with it. Figure II * The Total Personality This is a type of sensory experience which is inconsistent with the concept of self and hence cannot be admitted directly into awareness. The person cannot perceive that I experience success in mechanical operations because this perception would be disorganizing to the structure of the self.

In such an occurrence it is almost impossible completely to deny the experience to awareness, since the sensory evidence is clear. It is, however, pre-perceived as threatening and admitted to awareness in a sufficiently distorted fashion to eliminate the threat to the structure of self. It therefore appears in consciousness in some such fashion as It was just luck, The pieces just fell into place, I couldn't do it again in a million years. This distorted symbolization could take its place in Area II in our diagram, since it is consistent with self. By cutting back on her calories in recurrent bouts of restrictive eating (dieting), she's temporarily successful, losing a few pounds a few times. As a result of so-called successful dieting, she also finds herself uncontrollably binge-eating at times--something she'd never struggled with before. A behavior change (also known as lifestyle change) approach would have the woman attempt to change her habits around food, by following a dietitian-prescribed diet, for instance, or trying to eat more intuitively. A systems approach would have the woman take a step back and look at the systemic roots. While food habit change may be a part of the solution, it leaves unchanged those social contexts that affect how she feels in her body and why she wants to lose weight. Looking to systems, we might work with the woman to explore how social determinants have a personal impact--for example, having the woman unpack the sexist advertisements that surround us and how she feels when she consumes this media. The idea is not that knowing that painful embodied experiences are rooted in systemic issues will somehow make a person immune to feeling the effects of these systems. Rather, it is acknowledging that these systems persist and that her body dissatisfaction and efforts to change take place within an unsupportive environment. By addressing the roots of why food is so conflicted for them, people are then empowered to make the individual changes that may be most helpful. My first article encouraged intuitive eating, an approach created and popularized by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in their 1995 article of that title. If you're in the middle of a bout with anxiety or depression, take a break from social media. Step back for as long as is needed. You can spend your time doing other activities, like going for a walk, seeing a friend, or reading a article. Have a plan in place for coping with any feelings that emerge should you be reminded of photos, memories, or other milestones with an ex-partner or family member. Try one of the self-soothing methods we discussed earlier, and, once again, take a social-media break until the end of the day or holiday to avoid feeling further triggered. Living with family estrangement in the digital age presents its own set of unique challenges.

Before the ubiquity of social media, family estrangement often meant a clean break. Today social media makes it almost impossible to avoid mentions, photos, or updates of an estranged family member. These momentary peeks into their world can be painful reminders of what we are missing out on. Although well-intentioned, features like Facearticle's Memories feature or its birthday, anniversary, and friendship anniversary reminders are common triggers for people dealing with estranged family members. The actual experience, however, is denied to awareness in any accurately symbolized form, and hence remains in Area III. Let us take another example, drawing this time upon the experience of Miss Har, described in article 3 (particularly articles 79 and 76, in that order. Miss Har's mother had been deserted by her husband, and it is not surprising that Miss Har had introjected this feeling, this concept of the relationship, and the value attached to it, as if they were based upon her own sensory and visceral experience. On the few occasions when she had met her father, there were elements of his behavior which were not satisfying to her. This was first-hand sensory experience. It is congruent with the self-structure and assimilated into it. Her behavior is in accord with this total self-structure. Such experiences occurred, but were totally inconsistent with the whole structure of self. They were therefore denied to awareness, Only in the most distorted way do they appear in consciousness. She does admit the perception, I am like my father in several ways, and this is shameful. Applied in the right context, a transition from dieting to intuitive eating has been life-saving to many. When context isn't considered, however, there are undeniably classist undertones to promoting intuitive eating. For those in privileged social positions, choosing foods and amounts that intuitively appeal might be a possible approach to eating, but for others, systemic conditions may not permit just following their bodies' cues. Consider a single mother who works full-time while also attending school. She struggles to find enough time and money to feed her kids, so eating necessarily takes on a pragmatic and functional role. She cannot simply decide to eat what she would most prefer at any given time.

She may have to go beyond a comfortable level of fullness when food is available--for instance, if she has a free meal available at her restaurant job that she is not allowed to pack up and take home. Stopping at Burger King for Double Whoppers on the ride between school and daycare may be the most affordable and expedient choice for feeding the kids. Advising this woman to eat what she truly wants and stop when she is full is likely to only exacerbate the stress she may already feel by making her feel she is doing health wrong. Her current strategies meet her conditions for time, money, convenience, and all the other values helpful in a decision of what's really going to be the most nourishing self-care. Several months into his therapy, Seth began to talk more openly and honestly with me about his social-media habits, revealing that the birthday, holiday, and friendship anniversary reminders and videos that had been curated for him had begun to negatively affect him and brought up feelings of anger, hurt, and shame. These feelings would linger for days, Seth told me, and affect his relationships with family and close friends, his sleep patterns, his appetite, and his patience. Feelings like the ones Seth experienced when he was reminded of his father don't shake off easily; Be mindful of when you decide to go on social media, too. If you're facing a stressful day or know it's the birthday or anniversary of someone with whom you no longer have a relationship, avoid using social-media outlets that might remind you of this relationship. This will save you some heartache. Seth and I worked diligently over the next year to identify and predict the times in his life that would be especially hard for him. He made sure to curtail his social-media consumption during these times. He learned to center his social-media usage around his most important relationships, like with his children, wife, sister, and close friends. Seth also found ways to enhance his social-media experience by being more intentional in his interactions. She also overemphasizes her hatred for her father as a defense against permitting such experiences in awareness. It is confirmed by the fact that eventually, as described later, she can perceive this from her own internal frame of reference. Perhaps one other illustration may be added to indicate the introjection of values from the culture. Here the experiencing of a social attitude in others is distortedly perceived as a value based upon experience. In certain specific experiences, the sensory and visceral reactions have been unpleasant and unsatisfying. Being in accord with the self-structure, these experiences are assimilated into it.