Social Platform Creature: Our Mental Health Impact

Being the social creatures we are- having connections is something we feel makes a profound difference in our lives to establish meaning and fulfilment. It’s super sweet, it makes us do the floss (which I’ve recently discovered the name of as that funny dance with the hands and the hips…) and it allows us to go “Heck yeah, this makes me want to LIVE!” in some way or some form. Thank goodness for technology- I can feel connected straight away when I’m having a hard time.

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Then why do so many of us feel that loss of meaning in a digital world? That niggling desire to perhaps gain a love heart on a photo, buy the latest tech or that pair of trousers you know you don’t need but you want to purchase anyway (Oh, wouldn’t they look great on my feed?!)…


We’re hardwired by all sorts of thaaangs to want more. More of everything. Sure, we can connect quicker and establish relationships faster- making our millennial age, the years of the throw away feelings (Hi, Tinder). But it also means we’re quick to focus on such a microscopic lens of our lives and dissect everything within an online platform. I feel we need to fall back in love with the slower processes- the most meaningful of relationships with ourselves, our loved ones and the world.

And maybe switch off our phones more often…maybe like a lot.

From the Mental Health Foundation, 49% of 18-24 year olds who have experienced high levels of stress, felt that comparing themselves to others was a source of stress, which was higher than in any of the older age groups. In 2015, Time Magazine stated “Young adults are now spending more than one full day per week online, according to new survey data from a U.K. communications regulator.”

The online world has given us a great gift and a great…distraction. The idea that we can connect quicker- but we are now constantly entwined with the notion that we need the online connectivity to affirm what we want to affirm. Whether that be fame, attractiveness, money, fame etc. It has given us the instant gratification we actively seek. We are now consumerists of emotion. In a round about term, we’re a bit addicted to quick gratification.

We just need to slow everything dddooowwwwnnn. Sllllloooowwww. Sit back and away from your phone/laptop/electronic device. You got this!! We survived before and we can survive now!

We need to look at using technology in an altruistic way. To give back, to share support- to share love, kindness, gratitude. All the wonderful things that takes you away from the incessant need to just…feel connected. In a wonderful, deep way. Something as simple as seeing your friend share a snapshot of having a day off, enjoying the sunshine- break the mould and start a conversation, ask to meet up face to face next time they’re free. Not just a love heart, nor a facebook ‘reaction’.

Use this digital world to your advantage. Altruism, yes- but surround your digital self with a lot of digital love. Not a platform to subconsciously make your self esteem drop, for your bank account to fall out of your butt and overall lose your sense of self.

You got this. WE GOT THIS. 

Body Image: Why You Should Love Yourself

“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
― Amy Bloom

Why do we struggle accepting ourselves for who we are? Our bodies are our own beautiful temples, moving and breathing without conscious thought, allowing us to explore this world and well, live. We are literally made of stars, yet we somehow have such negative thoughts when it comes to our bodies. Too fat, too thin, bumpy bits, not enough of this, too much of that. Anything we can think of, we use to shame our bodies.

Why?

We compare, and the image of our bodies has been in a sense, warped by external influences. Yes, loving your body comes from within; but when society is pushing a certain size, shape or type into your everyday life-how do we feel good about ourselves?Ameema Blog Picture

We have to start using social media positively, and using it to our advantages. This links in with Shaun’s guest post on here about Social Media and Mental Health, that we can actively make what surrounds us a healthier impact on our wellbeing. There’s loads of mental health apps, (See my list of favourite free apps here ), wonderful people like the folks over at The Crybaby Club with a support network for ladies, also non-profits and organisations championing self-love and being comfortable in your own skin. We are not what we see on the screens. You, your friends, your family and loved ones are not all the same body shape or size- so why are we trying to obtain this unachievable ‘perfect’ body? Hell, it breaks my heart when someone tells me they dislike parts of themselves. Most of the time they’re comparing it to other people they know or see online.

“Even the models we see in magazines wish they could look like their own images.”
― Cheri K. Erdman

The people you are comparing your bodies too, are also comparing their bodies to other people. It is a vicious cycle of some strange secret competition we have in our heads. Even Beyonce hides her ears because she thinks they’re too big. You’d tell her to take a walk! But you shouldn’t diminish someones insecurities because you see them as beautiful or ‘perfect’ in the first place. We all have something, and because it isn’t your insecurity doesn’t mean it isn’t valid.

“Healthy emotions come in all sizes. Healthy minds come in all sizes. And healthy bodies come in all sizes.” ― Cheri K. Erdman

You kick ass and deserve to feel comfortable in your skin. Love transcends our bodies, and goes deeper than the skin that covers our bodies. We gotta love it.tumblr_nqbkpunYAi1u7jt09o1_r1_1280

Women in Power / Why Keep Real is for Everyone

71Fr2S+6pAL._SL1131_If there’s a documentary I couldn’t recommend enough, it would be ‘Miss Representation‘ on Netflix. Exposing how mainstream media and culture contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America.

Although I’m in the UK, sexism and under-representation of females in positions of influence or power exists. It has always existed, and continues to in every country in various degrees.

In the UK, women account for under a third of those in self-employment, and if women set up businesses at the same rate as men, there would be an extra 150,000 start-ups in the UK each year. Plus, for ever £1 a man earns, a woman earns 81p.

Nothing has really stopped me from starting up my own business, but I do wish there was a higher representation of successful women in the media. I’d like to think that we are becoming more aware of how the media influences us- and that what we see on our screens, isn’t necessarily something we have to take as the right way to see the world, or the right way to portray women.

However, those of a younger age, I believe do not have this awareness. When young girls are at school, they are constantly evolving, changing and growing as an individual. Girls are still trying to find themselves, and with the media being so accessible- is this making it harder for girls to find their identities?

 

This is why I’m starting my business. Keep Real stands for something good, not just in sustainability, it reflects equality as well as diversity as a brand. I’ve chosen the bands, artists or creatives to be involved with Keep Real; because they reflect a true representation of people. We’re not all size 8 for one. We don’t all have the same goals and aspirations, but that’s what makes us who we are. The media portray women (as well as men) as something that isn’t actually accurate at all. We are all on different paths, and it’s time to start portraying that more. Because people need something real. I know its corny, but Keep Real is something I truly believe in as a brand for everyone. It will continuously grow to reflect real people, and support folk’s wellbeing too.

The media portray women (as well as men) as something that isn’t actually accurate at all. We are all on different paths, and it’s time to start portraying that more.

There’s an extremely good article on how social media is harming the mental health of teenagers here, which I found so insightful. We’re changing the way we socialise and it’s putting so much pressure on teens, as well as everyone else.

It’s time we started making a difference to how the media affects us, and creating something for the people- not against.

 

Free Apps For Controlling Your Social Media Use

I love my phone and the possession of information at my finger tips. Don’t we allllll! I hear you say. Well, I think it’s about time I started truly seeing what I was using my phone for, and if I really am using it in a healthy way. I did a little experiment this week, and came across some of the best free apps in controlling your social media usage. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you’re on your phone after these! I feel so much better using these apps for my advantage. Check these two out to give a go. Be kind to yourselves folks ❤img_20160207_120520.jpg

Quality Time – This app helps you discover your habits on your phone, how long you spend screen time per day, as well as how many times you unlock your phone too. I gotta say this is incredibly useful. One day, I had over 153 screen unlocks. That’s a scary amount! Throughout the day, I thought I’d done pretty well, considering I was busy all day. However, I noticed that because my phone is on silent, I tend to check my phone a fair bit. See for yourself folks, realising how much time you spend checking- is taking away time for more cool stuff!!

Forest (Free here on Android) – This is actual so soooo cool. Forest is an app for staying focused and present. The more time you spend off your phone, the more your virtual forest grows! Whenever you want to concentrate, you can plant a seed in Forest. In the next 30 minutes, this small seed will gradually grow into a big tree. However, if you cannot resist the temptation and leave this app to check Facebook or play a game, your little cute tree will wither away. And nobody wants a dying forest! I love it. Give it a go, and test your smartphone resistance!

Social Media – The Rise of Mental Health Problems?

After reading an article in Elle’s March issue (I’m a sucker for my annual fashion subscription), it seems to me that even the fashion magazines are picking up on the connections between the digital age, and our own mental health. To quote Elle directly about some of the questions we are facing are ‘Will our jobs be replaced by apps? Are we saving enough money? Working smartly enough? Should we be building a personal brand? Investing in likes? Or rebelling against it all?’.

I gotta say, this article (even though aimed at young women, and asking whether anxiety and depression is becoming the norm for us in that category) is hitting a nerve for me. Even the swamp of rhetorical questions the article fires off, is giving me some form of worry.

From a personal view, it’s quite a struggle in a way. Should I be rebelling against it all? There’s parts of me that love the idea of social media being great for my business, being great for connecting with other like minded folk. But then again, I’ve just spent 7 hours solid on my laptop and not reeeaaallllyyy communicating in the real world. Is it the balance? Or are we onto something here?

I know that social media can be a wonderful tool in helping yourself, helping others and being a great virtual planet of good things. But how do we know that the digital age we are in, is compatible with us as people? It can play on our self esteem, it can be used to find out personal information, and are we really wanting all that information…all of the time?

What do you guys think?

 

Sending all my love to you, and as always keep real! ❤

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Social Media, Self Esteem & Mental Health

Shaun Rhatigan is an aspiring journalist with a keen interest in mental health. He also happens to be one of the most thoughtful people I have the pleasure of calling one of my dear friends! Here, he goes in depth concerning the positives and negatives of social media.

We have all undoubtedly experienced the negative effects that social media can have on our self-esteem and mental health. Researching for this blog I spoke to plenty of people who admitted spending hours perfecting their selfies, gaining self-validation based solely on how many likes they received. I’ve been guilty of this too, deleting photos and posts that got little or no attention from friends, leaving me feeling uninteresting and questioning my own self-worth.

With that being said, I don’t want to use this post to focus on only the doom and gloom of social media. Instead I want to show how it can be used to empower those dealing with mental health difficulties and highlight the positive impact it can have on your life. After all, staying positive is key!

One way social media helps me is following inspirational or funny quotes. Starting your day reading a hilarious tweet or Instagram post won’t just put a grin on your face, it will put you in a positive mood to get the most out of your day. Similarly, when faced with daunting tasks reading an inspirational quote can give you the motivation or boost to keep going. A tip for this is to screen-shot posts that have the greatest impact on you, so they are at your disposal whenever you need them. One of my personal favourites- “Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get back up.”

For those of us who struggle with face to face social interactions, social media gives you a great opportunity to connect with others without the worry of revealing your identity. It’s so important to express yourself but not everyone feels as comfortable doing so as others.  Social media opens the doors to groups and forums where you can discuss what’s on your mind or just find out if others are feeling the same way as you without the attached stigma (Check out the MentalHealthForum.com). Away from discussing mental health, joining groups where people share your interests (be it Star Wars, Art or Fashion) is a great way to mingle with others and bond over common ground whilst building your confidence and eliminating thoughts of isolation and loneliness.

Something else we might all be guilty of is preoccupy ourselves by aimlessly scrolling through our news feed. Although looking at how sloshed you and your friends got last week is fun, it’s important not to forget how much valuable information and support is at your fingertips. Organisations such as ‘YoungMinds’ and ‘PAPYRUS’ are doing great work on their social media pages by sharing campaigns, stories and advice. ‘SANE’ is another fantastic organisation that offers support through anonymous forums, their YouTube channel and text care. I can also highly recommend checking out ‘HeadMeds’ which offers easily accessible information on medication and mental health issues. These posts can not only help you get whatever support you need, they are also helping smash the stigma that surrounds mental health as people become increasingly knowledgeable on the subject.

These are just a few ways you can use social media to share with others and experiment with different forms of self-express. I’m not saying the problems aren’t there, but I do believe social media is not the big bad that we are led to believe. As with anything in life, approach social media with a positive attitude and you will reap the positive outcomes!!

 

You can follow Shaun here on Twitter and Instagram

 

Caught Up In Social Media

Hey folks! How y’all doing? I thought I’d post a little personal one for tonight about how I’m feeling recently. Now, I do realise that most of my posts are centred around mental wellness and tips on how to stay all good- but that doesn’t mean that I personally feel good all of the time! It’s impossible, and feeling rad comes with feeling bad too. They’re hand in hand, and it’s knowing the balance between the two that brings a certain harmony. Just being mindful of your thoughts and feelings allows you to go with your natural flow ❤

Even though my anxiety is for me, very tame and rarely rearing it’s head these past couple of years, there does seem to be a lil’ anxiety coming from social media lately. If some of you follow me on Instagram or even on Tumblr, you can tell from the content, I like to post photos related to my day to day activities or illustration! However, if I’m feeling good I’ll go ahead and post a ‘seflie’ here and there. But sometimes, I feel a real sense of being caught up in the world of social media. Clicking and scrolling my way through pages of content, it can be real hard to put my phone down.

Caught yourself looking at notifications for recognition or those ‘likes’ received? You’re not the only one. I’ve stopped notifications on my phone from social media now, however with my business Keep Real- I feel like I have to be constantly on the ball with it. It’s trying to find the balance between reality and your platforms online. Sometimes, finding that balance is tough. With our world communicating constantly through different networks- it really is hard to keep up.

We’re in an age where Facebook is just a given. When someone tells you they haven’t got a Facebook- you’re absolutely astounded! Why haven’t they got a profile!? Oh…you don’t have a Twitter? Are you living under a rock!?!? You have to take a step back and realise how involved you are in the world of social media. Is it taking up quite a big part of your day? Do you feel like you cannot go a day without checking your platforms?

I’ve been asking myself these questions, and feel more at ease with my web presence, and in general with my online platforms. Log out, see the world around you. Because it’s flippin beautiful and you’re missing it.

As always, sending my love to y’all- and keep real! x