Is Social Media Affecting Our Mental Health? 

Thanks to Sarah from Hello Sarah Lou for writing this weeks guest post.

 

 


 

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Is Social Media Affecting Our Mental Health?


According to a study published last month by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health, yes, it is. The survey,
#StatusOfMind*, asked nearly 1500 people aged 14-24 to rate popular social media platforms based on issues such as depression, anxiety, body image, bullying and loneliness.

Out of the 5 social media sites evaluated, Instagram was found to have the most negative impact on users, with Snapchat coming in second, Facebook and finally Twitter. YouTube was the only platform with a net positive rating, however, it wasn’t much higher than the others.

Are we, as social media consumers, surprised with these results? As someone who often falls for the filtered image of perfection on Instagram, the results do not surprise me at all. My feed is constantly full of what modern society deems as “hashtag” lifestyle goals. Smoothie bowls on Sundays with the girls (give me Coco Pops any day!), gym selfies, green smoothies, overwhelming amounts of ‘candid’ photography (you know, the look at each other, laugh and pretend no one’s taking a photo, shot), active wear, booty pics, designer clothes, the latest weight loss trends, dog filters – the list goes on. With social media accessible 24/7, it’s all too easy to feel like you’re missing out or less worthy because someone has more ‘likes’ than you do.  

I, myself, am guilty of uploading a ‘good’ photo, I’ll try my best to disguise the double chin that appears when I smile naturally. I will take several photos, trying every angle possible before I get the ‘perfect’ shot. It’s embarrassing to admit that but I guarantee you, I’m not the only one!

The unrealistic expectations set by social media are no doubt contributing to poorer mental wellbeing, especially in younger people. We are confronted with heavily edited photos and compare them with our seemingly ordinary lives. We strive for this so-called perfectionism presented to us in the form of photo-shopped images, glamorous lifestyles and perfectly curated feeds. 

Social media shouldn’t be a negative experience. It’s a great way to keep in contact with people, stay up to date with news and events and bring awareness to issues in society. Here are some tips for creating a more positive experience on social media:

– Have an intention, stop the mindless scrolling. I know how easy it is to get caught up and find yourself looking at photos of your sister’s boyfriend’s best friend’s cousins’ 2012 holiday to Paris.  

– Follow those who spread positivity and inspire you. Since blogging about my mental health, I have discovered a whole community of wonderful people who encourage each other to be authentic and real without judgement. Following like-minded people makes social media a much positive experience.

– Don’t feel obliged to be ‘friends’ with people you don’t want to connect online with. Keep people you value and want to stay in touch with. My friends list went from 700 to under 200 – it’s about quality not quantity. If deleting is not an option, remember there is the unfollow button!

– Limit your social media accounts, you don’t have to be active on all platforms. I recently deleted Snapchat because it didn’t add anything beneficial or positive to my day-to-day life.  

Remember, our self-worth is not determined by how many followers we have or how many likes we get.

 

* Reference – https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/policy/social-media-and-young-people-s-mental-health-and-wellbeing.html

 



 

19433446_835694769942047_925900645_n.jpgThis weeks guest blog was written by Sarah Bryan from Hello Sarah Lou.

Sarah is a mental health blogger who lives in Melbourne with her partner and their two cats. Having struggled with mental illness her entire adult life, Sarah is passionate about sharing her experiences to help and inspire others.

Be sure to check out her blog and share some love! You can also find her on Facebook here.

If you would like to be a guest blogger for The Nut Factory click here for more details.

10 Signs Depression is Making a Comeback and What To Do About It

Sometimes depression creeps up slowly, other times it hits you like a tonne of bricks. Here are 10 signs that my depression is making a come back and things that I try to do to combat it.

 
1. Personal hygiene starts to slide.
I start skipping showers, stop brushing my teeth and hair, even getting clean clothes on is an effort. It’s like all this normal routine stuff just takes up too much energy which I don’t have.

SOLUTION: Sometimes I just have to force myself to take a shower, at least every second day. Even though it uses up what limited energy I have, I always feel better afterwards.

 

2. Increased anger.
I have less patience and become more easily irritated by little things that normally wouldn’t bother me. I am quick to lose my temper and then feel guilty about it afterwards.

SOLUTION: I try and take time to breathe and think about the real reason I’m getting angry. Is it worth it or is it something that I should just let go? Do I have a real reason for being angry or is this the depression clouding my judgement? Sometimes just stopping for a minute to re-evaluate helps.

 

3. Increased tiredness.
I have less energy, trouble getting to sleep and struggle to get moving in the mornings. Constant lethargy makes me feel drained an unmotivated.

SOLUTION: I try and stick to a regular bed time, usually around 9pm and I try and limit the use of the iPad in bed at these times.

 

4. Poor diet.
I yo-yo between eating too much or not eating at all. Sometimes I gain weight and sometimes I lose weight rapidly. I binge on chocolate biscuits and other junk food and then feel awful for it after.

SOLUTION: While there is nothing wrong with occasionally having something sweet to eat to make yourself feel better, when it becomes regular occurrence it can be problematic. I try hard to stick to my normal diet and only eat small snacks, usually fruit, instead of chocolate and junk.

 

5. Housework takes a back seat.
My house becomes messier and messier. I have zero motivation to clean anything. Even doing this dishes so I can cook for my family is hard. This one is a cycle because the more mess and clutter that is around the more depressed I become, the more depressed I become the more I can’t be bothered to tidy up.

SOLUTION: Break the housework down into small manageable chunks. One chore at a time, or one room at a time, with breaks in between. I sometimes write a list and tick things off as I have done them as it helps give me a sense of achievement which in turn can motivate me to do more.

 

6. Binge watching Netflix.
I’m sure a lot of people have spent an entire day binge watching a favourite show on Netflix. No problem with that at all, sometimes it’s actually good for you to have that down time. However, when that starts happening for days on end to the determent of other things that need doing, it does become a problem. It happens to me sometimes when my mood is low. I push things away that I don’t want to deal with and immerse myself in a show (or several) to escape the reality of what is happening.

SOLUTION: Use Netflix as a reward instead. Clean the kitchen, watch an episode. Put a basket of laundry away, watch an episode. Cook a healthy dinner, watch an episode. Take the kids to the park, watch an episode.

 

7. Becoming more recluse than usual.
I am very much a home body at the best of times, but when depression starts to kick in I become even more of a hermit. I start thinking friends don’t want me around, that I’m a burden. I think I’m bothering them and that they don’t want to talk to me because they have better things to do than hang out with me.

SOLUTION: I take time to myself when I need it but also try not to decline invitations to go out when they come my way. Deep down I know the thoughts I have aren’t true but it’s hard when your fighting with your own brain. Sometimes my brain can be pretty convincing.

 

8. Not talking.
Having a conversation feels like too much effort. I become quite and tend to keep my thoughts to myself. I stop communicating with the people closest to me. Sometimes this is because I can’t make sense of what is going on and therefore find it difficult to explain and sometimes it’s because I’m too tired and can’t be bothered talking.

SOLUTION: Writing, writing, writing. I get all my rambled thoughts out on paper. Sometimes I will show it to someone and sometimes I will throw it in the bin. If I can sort out what is going on through my writing and make some sense of it, it may become easier to explain to someone else, and sometimes even that might be done through writing.

 

9. Easily upset.Sad Eye 001.jpg
I find myself crying over even the smallest thing. I feel like I have all this built up emotion and suddenly it only takes something little to cause it to overflow in the form of tears.

SOLUTION: Don’t fight it. Sometimes a good cry is very therapeutic. Sometimes I like to put on a sad movie or listen to sad music and cry and often I will feel a bit better afterwards.

 

10. Becoming forgetful and absent minded.
I can’t think straight. I walk into a room to do something and forget what it was. I forget appointments and things I was meant to do. I sometimes forget to take my medication which obviously is not a good thing. I forget words when I’m talking to people. I go through the motions of my usual routine and can’t remember doing some things.

SOLUTION: I try and practice mindfulness. I try and be in the moment and keep my focus on what I’m doing now and not what has happened in the past or might happen in the future. I also write lists, lots of lists, of what I need to get done so I don’t forget. I keep a diary of important dates so I don’t forget appointments or thing I said I’d do.

I Had a Hair Cut, Snippity Snip

Several weeks ago my Nana gave me some money to get a hair cut. Yesterday, after much anxiety, I finally bit the bullet and went in to make an appointment (in person because I hate the phone) and today I had it cut.

I hate hairdressers. I mean they are usually lovely people but are they trained to talk so much or does it just come naturally to them? Making small talk to a stranger while you’re stuck in a chair as they wave scissors around is not my idea of fun. So much so that this is only my third professional haircut in the last ten years. Usually I do it myself of have a family member give it a trim.

When I visit a hairdresser I feel like I have to at least try and engage with the conversation even though I don’t want to because it would be awkward not to, not just for me, well actually it’s awkward for me either way, but for the hairdresser too. I can just tell when they are looking for things to talk about because the responses I give a pretty short. They want to engage me but I don’t know how to have a conversation like a normal person.

Do you know what I think would be a good idea? Someone should start a quiet hairdresser. No talking about the weather, the news or what your plans are for the weekend. In fact, no talking at all other than about how you want your hair done. Selective quiet music, you know that stuff they play in new age hippie shops, something calming, nothing loud and in your face. Perhaps some essential oils going on around the place, but not too strong. Limited bright lights, only what is necessary. That kind of thing. That’s a hairdresser I’d be willing to visit. Someone should do that. I think a place like that would do really well for people with anxiety, particularly social anxiety, people with sensitivity issues, people on the autism spectrum, introverts and people who just like a bit of quiet time.

I have to say though, that getting my hair washed by someone else was nice. The hairdresser I went to had a reclining massage chair I sat in while they washed and massaged my scalp. I don’t know if this normal practice to have a nice chair like that but I enjoyed that part.

The girl did a good job over all given my instructions were “cut it short, out of my eyes, do whatever you think.” Yeah, I was pretty vague about what I wanted but I’m happy with the result. She did well with the “do whatever you think” part of the instruction.

I was given a fridge magnet with their business details as I left. I suspect there may be another few years before my next professional hair cut but who knows, I may be back sooner given it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.

 

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This Little Piggy Went to Market

I recently heard that Lifeline was in need of donations so when a friend invited me to go to the markets with her on Sunday I decided to go along. I made some home made dog toys to sell with the goal of raising some money for them.

I have to say my anxiety leading up to the day wasn’t great. I was worried about the crowds and the noise and the idea of actually having to sell things and speak to people. But I did it. I actually managed to stay through the whole thing without going to hide in the car.

There wasn’t many people there which was good and bad. It meant my anxiety was lower but also meant I didn’t sell much – in fact I only sold two toys. I made $10 for lifeline.

I have some leftover dog toys which I’m going to try and sell elsewhere and I’m thinking of making some more. It sounds like this may be a regular thing going to the markets and maybe I might go again. This could be a good thing, for me and for Lifeline.

If anyone wishes to donate to Lifeline you can do so here.

 

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#WordsOfKindness

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I am hereby issuing the world a challenge…

 

Background

There are so many horrible things happening in the world today to the point where I can no longer watch or read the news as it gives me too much anxiety. I can’t change any of these things. I am not in any position to stop wars, feed the starving, or create peace in countries that have been brought to their knees from ignorance and intolerance. While I can’t fix any of these bigger problems, I can make a difference in the lives of individuals. I can (hopefully) put a smile on someones face and make their day a little better. With any luck that will be contagious and they will go on to make another person smile and we can spread happiness together.

According to the Wold Health Organisation (WHO), ‘one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.’  and ‘there were an estimated 788 000 suicide deaths worldwide in 2015’. Together we can do something about this. We can promote good mental health and well being. We can make a difference.

The world needs to be kinder. People need to know they matter, that they are important, that someone cares. We can do this with our words. Words are powerful and we should use them, so lets use them for good and spread a little happiness. I can’t tell you the number of times someones words have made me feel better with my own struggles with mental illness and in general day to day life. Most of them don’t even know what a wonderful effect they have had on me. It’s time to share those moments.

You never know what is going on in someone else’s life. You don’t know what struggles they are facing or what they have experienced. Your words could have an enormous impact on the life of another by a simple act of kindness.

 

The Challenge

So, my challenge to you is to write five anonymous positive notes that could make someone smile or feel better about themselves. It could be a compliment, a positive affirmation, an inspiring quote or even something as simple as wishing them a good day.

At the bottom of the note write the hashtag #WordsOfKindness. This will hopefully make it easier for people to find out what this challenge is all about and get more people spreading the happiness even further. It will also provide a place on social media for people to share the notes they have found and the happiness they are spreading, if they wish to do so.

Place the note where someone will find it – under the wiper of a car, in a library book, on a park bench, in a cafe, in someones letter box, next to the chocolate in the supermarket – you get the idea.

You can make the note for a specific person or for a stranger to find.

If you can’t write five that’s OK, even one is enough to spread some happiness. If you’d like to write more than five, that’s great, the more the better.

Notes can be as long or as short as you want them to be.

They can be hand written or typed and you can decorate them or leave them plain, it’s entirely up to you how creative you want to be.

Your words and kindness could be just what that person needed to get through their day.

 

Examples

 

 

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Share

Please share this post! Re-blog, share to Facebook, twitter, pinterest, anywhere where people will see it. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #WordsOfKindness when you share. Lets get the word out and start spreading happiness today.

If you’d like to share stories of notes you’ve written or found you can do so on the Encouraging Kindness Facebook page here! I’d love to hear about what you’ve been up to. The Facebook page is brand new so any help to get it kick started would be amazing!

If you’d like to check out the brand new blog associated with #WordsOfKindness you’ll find that here.

Sticking My Head in the Sand

Another missed call. Or should I say another ignored call. My new case manager ‘S’ from CHM keeps calling me and every time it rings it comes up with ‘unknown number’ so naturally I ignore it. But she always leaves a message and most times I would respond. Not necessarily by calling back but I’d go in and see her in person. Not this time, or the other three times she’s called over the last three weeks.

Things haven’t been going well with her. We haven’t clicked and I find it incredibly difficult to talk with her. It just isn’t working and everyone’s time is being wasted. I think there are multiple reasons for this.

The biggest reason though is her age. She’s probably in her mid twenties, significantly younger than me. I’ve never really gotten on well with people my own age or younger. When I was a teenager, my closest friend was eight years older than me. We are still friends today. Another close friend I have is over fifteen years older than me. Even my husband is ten years older than me. I’ve just always gotten on better with people who are older. I know this shouldn’t matter when I’m working with ‘S’ in a professional setting, but it does. Due to her age I feel she has a lack of experience. I’m not talking educational or work experience, but life experience. How can she help when she doesn’t understand? When she hasn’t experienced what it’s like to be a spouse or a mother? She can’t understand.

I’ve been to probably five or six appointments with ‘S’ and things weren’t getting better. We never get through the full appointment time because I don’t know what to say and it seems like neither does she. I leave feeling disheartened and disappointed. I can’t keep doing this. I don’t want to keep doing this. I tried.

So instead of doing what I know is the right thing and actually telling her this isn’t working, I’ve just been avoiding her altogether, not showing up for appointments and dodging phone calls. The honest reason I’ve responded this way? I’m scared. I don’t know how to tell her. I don’t want to upset her or anyone else. I don’t like confrontation even though I know the reality is it’s probably not going to be that bad. I don’t know what alternatives there are if I don’t see her. So I’m sticking my head in the sand and pretending it isn’t happening.

Why I Write

I like to write. Writing is important to me as a coping tool. It’s a way to vent and get everything out. It gives me a voice that I may not otherwise have.

Writing is a way of expression so I can tell people things that I can not verbalise. I tell people things when I write this blog. I also write notes or letters to people when I need to tell them things that are difficult. Writing things gives me the chance to think about what I say before I say it so it doesn’t come out wrong and the message is lost.

A lot of what I write is shared with others but not everything. Sometimes I write things that are just for me, to help me order my thoughts and make sense of things. Whether I share it or not, writing things down is always helpful.

I also write to help others. To get my stories out there to support other people and also to receive support.

Sharing stories about mental illness starts conversations, conversations help break down barriers and remove stigma. By sharing stories we normalise our experiences and take the fear away so people don’t feel ashamed or worried about opening up about their struggles. By sharing stories we make it easier for people to say ‘me too’ and reach out for the help they deserve.

This is why I write.

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