For the Mental Health Unit

A) Describe how you feel and act when your mental health is thriving in the Green Zone. (Don’t just say ‘normal’ – what does that look like? What does it feel like?)

When I am in the Green Zone, I am able to complete any work required of me, including homework and chores, in a timely manner. I do not feel any discomfort (besides any symptoms if I happen to be sick) like sweats or dizziness. I also balance out my work with a healthy dose of gaming, which is to say I do not play non-stop and rest for at least 5 minutes every half an hour. I do not spend all my time gaming, despite it being my favorite thing to do, and also engage in other hobbies such as reading and playing the violin. I also engage in social activities, be it with friends, family, or people from online communities, and have a good time while doing so. I feel motivated to confront any challenges and am willing to improve myself and make others happy.

B) What are some tech habits and strategies that are keeping you thriving in the Green Zone? Describe them in detail. Also include people who help you with this. How else does using technology have a positive effect on your well-being?

To keep my use of technology healthy physically, regardless of whether I am doing work or recreational activities, I take breaks to avoid digital eyestrain. I take breaks every half an hour to massage my eyes, and I remind myself of this limit by setting a timer on my clock when I’m not confident I will have the self-control to time myself. I learned during this unit that the light from electronics impedes sleep, so I also try to avoid electronics in the hour before bed. Finally, I also have to keep a healthy posture while using technology so that no long term health afflictions that I have to worry about manifest.

To keep myself mentally healthy while using technology, I have to first keep myself physically healthy as the discomfort from eyestrain is a distraction to my life. Then, I have to use technology in a self-improving fashion outside of schoolwork and recreation to maintain the sense of accomplishment that is essential to my staying in the Green Zone. I also have to first complete my schoolwork without distracting myself so that I do not stress over uncompleted assignments, and to eliminate distractions, I keep my browser tabs for schoolwork separate from my recreational tabs and also keep recreational tabs closed or minimized while working.

Because I am in eight grade by now, my parents expect me to be able to manage my own health, so the responsibility of maintain mental health while using tech largely falls upon me. However, my dad will give me occasional reminders to sit up straight and with a good posture.

The sense of accomplishment I get when I achieve something while gaming or when I make something using technology is something that really help me overcome stress and improves my self-esteem. Technology also lets me interact with other people, which brings me joy and humor. Finally, technology enables me to participate in hobbies better, like how I can find books online when I don’t want to buy them physically, or how I can find sheet music for violin pieces I want to play on the internet.

C) Think about your tech use and habits (social media and/or gaming and/or E-learning). What are the triggers/challenges that take you out of thriving in the Green Zone and into the unsettled/struggling feelings of the Yellow/Orange Zones? Use what you know about the brain, sleep and the effects of tech on mental health as you answer this question.

The main cause of mental health deterioration for me is when I lose sleep. According to Medical News Today (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/307334#symptoms), sleep deprivation leads to difficulty concentrating, irritability, demotivation, and forgetfulness, which are all conditions I experience when I am in the Yellow/Orange Zones. As for what causes sleep deprivation for me, it’s usually because I used technology irresponsibly and procrastinate, causing me to stay up later than usual to complete work. Not only does this cause me mental stress through sleep deprivation, it also causes me to stress because I know the quality of my work declines when I’m rushed to finish it and because I know I am being unproductive when I waste time using tech. It’s easy to lose self-control when using technology because of how convenient switching between recreational applications and work applications is, and also how easy it is for you to kick up a conversation with peers while working.

Another trigger for deterioration is when I encounter something that challenges me. This problem is especially prevalent in e-learning because I can tell myself that I have an entire day to get something done and that it’s alright for me to take an hour to have fun before working. That hour turns into two, and into three, and so on. I commonly procrastinate when I am faced with something that requires effort, and it’s easy to find methods to procrastinate when you have every recreational activity you want to do at your fingertips, in your laptop. It adds additional pressure on me when I finally get to starting the assignment, which in turn causes me to delay having to work again, restarting the cycle.

D) Describe how you feel and act when you are unsettled or struggling in the Yellow/Orange Zones.

When I am in the Yellow/Orange Zones, I am not motivated by a desire to improve myself, but by a more arbitrary reason of “because somebody else told me to”. The only work I want to get done is the work that absolutely needs to be finished, which leads to procrastination. I shirk responsibilities and often take a very long time to complete tasks. I do not engage in any hobbies other than gaming, because that is what brings me the most happiness even if it doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for me. I am aware that I am in the Yellow/Orange Zones but am so unmotivated to do anything that I don’t care. Besides demotivation, I also feel tired and moody. I experience shortness of breath and pins and needles because of the stress I feel from being unproductive.

E) What are some strategies that you have used to help you get back to the Green Zone? Describe a time when you have used it. Or, if you currently don’t have any strategies, think about the Mindfulness strategies from the previous post. Describe a time when you could have used one of those strategies or habits and how it would have made you feel. Also include people who could help you with this.

My go to strategy is just have a lie-down, breathe deeply, and re-evaluate my life choices. This sounds like something you would hear in a self-deprecating joke, but it honestly works for me because I don’t have the patience to meditate for 10 minutes (which is how long some of the audio recordings on calm.org are). I recently applied this when I had an assessment to take for e-learning but I couldn’t bring myself to start it. I tried out using a meditation recording on calm.org, but when I sat down and closed my eyes I ended up just thinking about what was going wrong instead of meditating. Perhaps it would have been even more effective if I had meditated, but confronting my problems mentally like that just pushed me to begin the assessment. This strategy relies on myself, which is unreliable, so I could ask my parents to keep me in check instead, though this really shouldn’t happen as I am about to enter high school.

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