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Our Mental Health Vs Social Media

A few weeks back I was scrolling through Netflix and spotted the documentary The Social Dilemma, and having heard people talk about it I decided it was worth a watch. Before watching I thought I was pretty switched on to the effects social media can have on mental health and had a good idea about how it all ‘worked.’ Yet as I sat watching I felt really shocked.


I won’t share any spoilers but the statistics and graphs they show linking social media apps for mobiles with suicide and self harm are harrowing. Also they show the inner workings of our social media apps which gave me the chills.


I would recommend giving it a watch but for today I just wanted to share some of the negatives and positives associated with social media, tips to reduce the effects/ usage and my own journey over the last few weeks since watching.



Negatives;

False information and fake news which is difficult to spot; online bullying and trolling; increased levels of anxiety and depression; poor sleep; addictive; can have a negative impact on our body image; fear of missing out; comparing our bodies to others; low self esteem; life comparison.


These are just a few of the negatives that have been associated with social media; we are each affected in our own way. After watching the show I grabbed my notebook and listed the ways in which I felt it affected me, it was an interesting exploration, that I would definitely say is worth a few minutes of anyones time.


Positives;

Keeps us connected; motivating; offers a sense of community; gives us a platform to express ourselves; somewhere to be heard; find and connect with friends and family; spread awareness; access news; sparks creativity; find new communities; educational; fun.


Social media has lots of good to bring to our lives if we use it consciously. For me this has proved key; I have brought my social media use into my awareness and started to challenge it.


Tips for a healthy relationship with social media;

Limit time, set a daily limit and stick to it; turn off push notifications; no screen time for one hour before bed; stop following accounts that make you feel bad about yourself; don’t compare your real life with someones online life; think before you log on; check in with yourself before scrolling, if you’re feeling low maybe avoid social media and call a friend instead; only post what you feel comfortable sharing; spread kindness; follow accounts that bring you joy or make you laugh; share these; seek help from friends, family or a counsellor.




My Journey;

After watching the show I decided to have a look at my usage; I hadn’t given this much attention before, I found a graph showing my daily screen time. I was surprised to learn I averaged between three and severn hours… a day… yes SEVERN hours a day! I do use my phone lots for work so three hours seemed completely acceptable but severn! I wasn’t prepared for that.


So within thirty minutes of watching the show I deleted lots of apps from my phone; including shopping apps that send me lots of notifications, photo editing apps and a few games. Then I turned off my LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram notifications. It felt like a really positive start.


Fast forward one week and I checked my stats again, to find that with little effort at all my screen time had dropped to between three and five and a half hours a day. So I decided that next, I would delete Snapchat completely and then delete Facebook from my phone; meaning it is only available on my laptop. I made that decision six days ago but haven't actually done it. Why? This is a question I have spent the week mulling over, and I think it is due to my fear of missing out and my inability to ‘switch off.’ I very rarely just sit with a cup of tea these days and look out of the window; I look at my screen instead.

So this weeks blog for me, has been a way to let go, before I click publish I will be deleting Snapchat completely and deleting Facebook from my phone. It has been a very interesting journey. A few weeks ago I had no idea I was mindlessly spending up to severn hours a day looking at my screen or that I would find deleting an app so difficult. I am glad that it has been brought to my attention and that I have taken steps towards a healthier relationship with social media and my phone. Plus I will continue to assess my relationship with the online world and make future adjustments where needed.


So, here’s to enjoying a brew whilst watching the clouds drift past the window instead of mindlessly scrolling.

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