Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Stop letting social media control your life

From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Snapchat, social media seems to have taken a firm grip on our lives, regardless of our age. Not only are these platforms a huge distraction in our day-to-day lives, but they can also play a negative role in our mental and physical wellbeing. 

In a survey published by Cureus in June 2020, it was reported that “the prolonged use of social media platforms such as Facebook may be related to negative signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress”.

While we indulge in hours of endless scrolling, trying to snap the perfect selfie, or striving to get as many likes and followers as possible, we are neglecting all of life’s good stuff that is so important to our health. But not only does social media steal our precious time, it has even more detrimental effects:

  • We become less productive – It’s easy to lose track of time when scrolling through social media, which ultimately results in using our time less productively, whether at home or at work. It can also cause a lack of concentration when we’re trying to focus on something else.
  • We compare ourselves to everyone else’s seemingly perfect and exciting lives – Although it’s often quite obvious that the lives and images people present on social media aren’t always an honest reflection, this can put a huge amount of pressure on users to live up to unrealistic expectations. Over time, this can cause low self-esteem as feelings of insecurity make us believe that we’re not good enough. As well as knocking our confidence, these false perceptions may lead to body dysmorphia or eating disorders in some instances.
  • We lose physical human contact – Human connections and interactions, both emotionally and physically, are extremely important to our wellbeing as they strengthen communication and boost our self-confidence.
  • It can affect our quality of sleep – Good quality sleep is paramount for keeping a healthy mind and body. Not only does the content we see on social media keep our minds alert or even anxious, but the light from the screens can reduce the production of melatonin in our bodies - a chemical which makes us feel tired and able to sleep well.

Ways to wean yourself off social media

If you’ve found yourself feeling anxious, stressed or less productive, and you want to try and kick the social media habit, here are a few tips to help you:

  • Set up a sleep schedule on your phone or device. This will remind you when you need to wind down before bedtime so you can relax with a book or a warm bath to help you sleep.
  • Make plans to see or speak with friends on a regular basis, because the more time you’re chatting, the less time you’ll spend scrolling. You can even agree to a phone ban during your time together to help you resist temptation.
  • Spend some time every day doing relaxing activities that will help you clear the clutter from your mind, such as meditation or mindfulness exercises.
  • Make time for sports or outdoor activities that will not only engage your brain so that you forget about social media, but they’ll help to keep your body and mind fit and healthy.
  • Switch off your phone notifications so that you become more in control of when you go online. You can even set aside certain times for accessing your accounts.
  • Delete your accounts! One of the best ways to stop letting social media control your life is by removing yourself from unhelpful accounts completely. By deactivating your accounts, you are freeing yourself from the distractions and more likely to find much healthier ways to spend your time.

If you're interested in finding out more about how to manage your social media usage for your wellbeing, watch the recording of our free webinar and download our free booklet here >

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Reasons why honesty is the best policy

On the surface honesty is simply telling the truth, but in actual fact it goes much deeper than that. There are many reasons why people are dishonest: to avoid hurting others, to protect themselves, or to gain some kind of advantage. For whatever reasons, dishonesty can have detrimental effects on everyone involved, but particularly ourselves. 

The effects of dishonesty

When we lie to others, we are also lying to ourselves and this can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing. When we lie, we are not being true to ourselves, and not only can this cause problems with our relationships but it can weigh heavy on our mind. Perhaps you’ve lied because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, but in turn you’ve sacrificed your own happiness. This kind of dishonesty might make you feel like you are doing the right thing at the time, but in the long-term it can make you feel anxious or stressed. 

Much of positive mental health is centred around how we perceive and feel about ourselves, so self-confidence is a key component to our overall wellbeing. When we choose to act dishonestly, understandably, it’s more likely that our self-worth will decrease as we begin to experience feelings of guilt or self-hatred. Over time, these negative thoughts can alter our perceptions of ourselves and we may doubt the person we are. On the other hand, lying about our abilities or achievements can leave us with a false sense of security. 

Anita E. Kelly, who is a professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, conducted a study that looked at the effects of honesty and dishonesty on mental and physical health. She found that those who had lied reported more complaints such as headaches, nausea, and feeling tense. The outcome: telling fewer lies is linked to better health.

Often one lie leads to another because we don’t want our lies to be found out so it becomes a vicious circle or a habit that can be difficult to escape from. However, there are ways in which we can learn to be more honest without hurting others whilst remaining true to ourselves.

How to become more honest

  • Recognise the situations when you are most likely to be dishonest. Make a list of what you would gain from both telling the truth and lying and how it would make you feel afterwards. Chances are, when you gain a clear perspective, you would feel better in yourself if you had been honest.
  • Speak to someone close to you and ask them how they would feel if you had lied to them and whether they would prefer if you had been honest, regardless of whether or not it was painful for them. It’s likely they would rather you be honest.
  • Often, we lie because we are embarrassed that we aren’t good enough at something or we fear what others think of us. Sometimes it’s good to take criticism on board so that we can understand how we need to improve ourselves and become better in the future. 
  • Acknowledge and accept your flaws. None of us are perfect, and no one expects us to be. People are much more likely to accept your flaws than if you lie to them. Trust is so important to people and the moment you lose someone’s trust it’s very difficult to get back.