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The Art of Instinct: 9 Ways to Trust Your Gut

The Art of Instinct: 9 Ways to Trust Your Gut

There’s an age-old question surrounding our thoughts and behaviors: Do we think before we act, or act before we think? The fact is much of our decision making is merely reactionary—instinctual responses to our body’s physical reactions. Clichés like “following your heart” and “trusting your gut” can often, it seems, be surprisingly accurate. No matter how much of an “over-thinker” we may believe that we are, those sweaty palms oftentimes trump our logic even when making the most important choices.

More often than not, our bodies can govern how we think and feel rather than our minds being in control. People who are most in tune with their bodies are at greater risk for being led by gut instinct.

Studies show that when we are faced with financial offers that we deem unfair, for instance, our gut feelings override our rational, quantitative decision-making abilities. Even when we will ultimately benefit from the proposal, our physical reactions make us far more likely to reject the proposition we falsely consider to be unjust.

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How do we master the art of instinct? Here are 9 tips to help you know when and when to not go with your gut:

1. Listen to your gut when making decisions that have no wrong answer or no negative consequence.

Feel like the report you’ve just written needs another review? Make it happen. Does something trivial just feel right? Don’t over-think it and just enjoy.

2. Think before you act when a choice could result in long-term consequences.

When choosing a home, for instance, it is easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of landing new digs. But, sleep on it! Weigh the pros and cons and be sure to check out plenty of homes before choosing your future residence.

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3. Don’t let your head get in the way when it comes to compassion.

If you see someone in need and feel the impulse to help, do it. Compassion is a gut instinct that should never be ignored.

4. Trust your intuition when you feel unsafe.

This doesn’t mean always letting fear get in the way, but when it comes to situations in which you feel an unwavering sense of vulnerability, listen to your instinct. If you are walking on a dark street and feel a seemingly irrational sense that the person behind you is a threat, go with your intuition and cross the street.

5. If you have a feeling that you or your child is sick.

Don’t ignore this sentiment! Take action—book an appointment. No one knows your body like you do. Listen to it!

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6. When rewards are within your capabilities.

Studies show that for many decisions, ranging from major to inconsequential, people who thought less (relied less on logic) reported being happier with their choices. Don’t let your thoughts get in the way of appreciating an exciting milestone. Just treated yourself to a new bag that’s well within your budget? Good for you! Kick that buyer’s remorse to the side.

7. Stick with your head when making decisions under emotional pressures.

If you’re having a bad day, everything can appear seemingly negative. Don’t let these physiological responses lead you to an unsound conclusion.

8. When you are self-assured.

When feeling a sudden urge of confidence for no rational reason, trust your gut and don’t let your mind bring you down. Self-assurance allows you to accomplish great feats—be sure to not let self-defeating thoughts get in your way.

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9. Don’t back-flip once you’ve committed.

Lastly, remember to ignore the chatter of your thoughts once a decision that can’t be undone has been made. Trust yourself and trust your ability to make sound choices and move on.

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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