Today we have a guest post written by Rowan Blair Colver on how to take care of your mental health when online.
Rowan Blair Colver is the editor of Alternative Fruit.
I wish to extend a sincere thank you to Uplifting and Inspiring Content for giving this guest blog a home.
Our mental health has been made more important in the media over the past few years, with awareness initiatives challenging the stereotypes and ignorance taking many forms. Mental health is related to our overall wellness. Our psychological state directly affects how we think and act in the world. There are many areas of life where our mental health can be compromised, which can lead to long-lasting trauma if not effectively managed. The online world is a new phenomenon, and the way it affects our mental health is a hot topic around the world. Here are some key principles to think about on how to take care of your mental health when online.
Firstly, do not feel obliged you need to be online. If you are not happy, or if you are not getting positive things from it, then it might be a good idea to stay away from those sites or find another site with much better experiences. Don’t feel like you have to prove anything to anyone or change the way you are to fit in, the internet is so big that you can easily walk away and into something new and no-one will mind.
Set your best example. So, no-one really likes rude or aggressive people, no-one likes to be ridiculed or shamed for their ideas. As well as not being the worst of the internet, find your inner assertiveness and do not permit the worst of the internet to come to you. If someone’s rude to you, or talks to you like you are subordinate, if someone is aggressive with their choice of words, or makes you feel insecure, awkward, or ashamed then be the one to put a stop to it. There is an unfriend button and a block button if they do not get the hint.
This goes for what you post too. Okay, so you did not say those things in the article, you didn’t write it. If you share it, you are taking some form of responsibility for what it says. You might be sharing it out of interest, and you may not agree with it. Say so, be clear, check your evidence, and if you think something is offensive then explain why you shared it anyway. Other people’s mental health is important as well. Your posts can directly influence that.
Know why you are there. If you are a business or an artist who is looking to make sales, social media sites are a platform to reach customers. If you are an individual person, then social media is a place to stay in touch with family and friends. Celebrities and influencers use it to promote products and they are rewarded for it. If we find ourselves trying to keep up with people in a different circle, it can make us feel and look strange. We can begin to compare ourselves to the wrong role-models and lose our self-esteem.
There will be online disasters happening. Arguments, fake news, troll posts designed to enrage and provoke you, and possibly a bit of political and religious extremism. Just by-pass these things. There are a lot of unwell and hurt people who gravitate towards these kinds of thing and in the end, they only bring bad news. The last thing you need is your name associated with hurtful or irresponsible content.
Just be yourself and do not pretend to be what you are not, so you fit in online. Like trying to keep up with the professional who probably spends money for social influence, remember that you do not have to change who you are to be liked. This is much like the playground at school, I am sure most of you remember that. Only this time they cannot reach out and touch you. It is all sound, image and word. Find the right people and you will be the most comfortable and the least stressed.
Pop the echo-chamber bubble. You probably surround yourself with lots of validation and agreeing arguments. This is natural, it bolsters our self-esteem and gives us confidence. The thing is the world is not all one opinion or one way of thinking. The reality is that the whole world looks at life in an infinite number of ways. If we can be brave enough to allow this real world into our lives just a little bit online, we can be sitting from a place of better perspective, understanding, and ultimately empathy for our fellow humans.
Finally, this is your show. You are in control; your profile and your posts are your little project. Do not be afraid to set some rules. Firstly, for your community and secondly for yourself. We mentioned rude and aggressive, awkward, and shaming posts, so set yourself a goal to not share those if you can, then think about how you will manage your own digital space and timeframe. When you reply, do you think clearly about your response? Do you answer from a place of irritation or glee? Put these toys away, they are children’s games. People on the other screen cannot see the way you are feeling and will take every word at face value.