Mental Health Awareness Week

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

 

For us this means taking a look at how we can monitor our mental health on social media. An increasingly important discussion, the impact social media can have on your health is something we consider paramount to our work.

 

Social media has changed the world immeasurably. We now have the ability to connect with people all over the world at the touch of a button. We can share, learn and inspire all before we get out of bed in the morning. Despite constant comments to the contrary, the online world is much like the real world, there is an equal balance between good and bad.

 

Social media is a very personal space. This is something we always promote when talking about tone of voice. If you have thousands of followers, you’re not talking to thousands of people at once. You’re talking to one person at a time. We consume social media alone. The effect of negative content is felt personally, usually from the comfort of home.

 

Comparisons are dangerous things. But they’re also totally natural. Self-esteem and body image can be hugely affected by all media. This problem isn’t exclusive to social media and if dealt with, can improve overall mental health both on and offline. The key is to be aware. Be aware that it’s human nature to compare. It’s how we process information. It’s a tool of measurement. And it’s instinct.

 

The key to managing comparisons is to remember the ways in which we use social media. It’s a showcase. A stage. A platform. Life is famously full of highs and lows, but on social media we generally choose to share the highs alone. Keep that in mind when making comparisons.

 

Unfriend, unfollow, delete.

Don’t like what you see? You don’t have to. Social media is your space, take control. You have the ability to control what you put out, but also what you get back. Take some time to audit your follow or friends list and remove those who don’t positively impact your feed.

 

Comment, like, share and be engaged.

Do like what you see? Say so. Passively scrolling through feeds can also negatively impact the way you feel on social media. You have a great opportunity to share some positivity. You know what it feels like to receive a nice comment, give that feeling to someone else.

 

Track your time.

Both Apple and Android users have their screen time available at the touch of a button. Check in with these figures every now and then. If you’re spending too much time on your phone try leaving it in another room, a bag, or in a drawer to reduce the possibility of mindless scrolling.

 

Turn off push notifications.

Remove the temptation to jump onto your phone instantaneously. Improve your concentration by reducing the distraction of notifications and you may find yourself checking your lock screen far less.

 

Whether you’re comparing yourself to others too often, being overexposed to unsettling news stories, or receiving hurtful comments or messages, it’s absolutely essential to look after yourself online. This, we cannot stress enough.

 

Remember if you’re receiving comments or messages intended to upset or harass, report them immediately. Take a quick screenshot and use the ‘report’ feature of whichever platform you’re using, every platform has one and it’s extremely quick and easy to do this. It is illegal to use social media to make serious threats.

 

It can often be harder to track and quantify the more general effects of social media. But like any skill, once you start familiarising yourself with the techniques, it gradually becomes easier to apply. Once you start noticing the subtle ways social media affects you, you’ll get better at responding to them and protecting yourself.

 

If you’d like to know more about how to protect your mental health on social media, our sister company Oh So Savvy has some great free video tutorials. Split across three parts, the video tutorials walk through everything you need to know about the research into mental health on social media and the ways to protect yourself.

Sarah Stuttard

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