Feeling overwhelmed? Top tips for staying positive online during the coronavirus crisis

Overwhelmed? Take back control when it comes to using the internet.

(CNN)Even at the best of times, the way we use the internet and social media can add stress to our lives and leave us feeling overwhelmed. In the midst of a global pandemic, this risk is even greater.

As governments and experts around the world give updates on efforts to control the coronavirus outbreak, it can feel as though we are under constant bombardment from negative news.
And this sense of panic is sometimes not helped by well-meaning friends and family, all sharing similar information on their Twitter timelines or sending it to us directly.
    But there are practical things everyone can do to make their online experience during these challenging times a more positive one. In fact, the internet can actually help us feel connected and give us a sense of community.
    CNN has spoken to social media and mental health experts to get their top tips on the changes you can make right now to stay grounded online.

    Take control of your relationship with the internet

    Taha Yasseri is a computational social scientist at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. He explains that many of us are consuming all sorts of content -- from news and images to social media posts -- in an unconscious way.
    The first thing you should do is reset your relationship with the internet and control how, where and when you consume news, he says.
    "Usually, negative news goes faster, further, and deeper on social networks -- so we are much more exposed to negative news than positive news," he says.
    This has the effect of amplifying it exponentially as more people share it, Yasseri explains, so if you have your Twitter feed open, you can feel even more bombarded by the stream of bad news.
    "For myself, I've decided to look at the news only a certain number of times a day. Some people like to do this in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening."
    Tamara Russell, a mindfulness expert from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London, agrees. She recommends picking just one or two trusted news sources and checking updates only once or twice a day.
    "Every notification is designed to alert you anyway, even if you're totally calm... and of course, the content is scary," she says. "Choose when you're going to look and pick which sources. And balance that out with engaging with things that are uplifting."

    Make the 'mute' button your friend

    With so many people now stuck at home with their computers, avoiding the news while staying connected to loved ones online may sound impossible.
    But there are lots of easy ways you can harness technology to curate your own experience online.
    Using "mute" and "unfollow" options on social media platforms is an easy and instant way to stay in control -- and a way to temporarily stop seeing content shared by well-meaning friends and family online.
    On Twitter, you can mute key words to stop them appearing in your feed -- and if you need to take a break from a WhatsApp group, you can silence it for a period, without actually leaving the group.