Pros and Cons of How Social Media Influences Mental Health
Just like a majority of people today, I also use social media daily and scroll through more often than I probably should. With growing technology we can order just about anything online and know what our friends/family/perfect strangers are doing at any given moment. As overwhelming and perhaps ‘scary’ as this sounds and has proven to be at times, there are also great benefits of social media such as connecting with people, finding employment, convenience of buying products, paying bills, and much more. What if we thought about the way we could utilize social media to improve mental health? On the other hand, there are harmful effects to our mental health by utilizing social media, of course. Today, we are going to discuss both sides. The key point here is that using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, (WordPress), and other social media platforms is beneficial – we just have to be mindful of how to use them properly so we don’t jeopardize our mental stability and peace of mind.
Let’s start with the cons of social media in relation to mental health:
- Comparison – have you ever caught yourself scrolling through and staring at someone’s picture, wishing you had their body? How about seeing someone’s vacation pictures and getting upset because you know you don’t have the money to do the same thing? We are all guilty.
- Negativity – all the time, we see negativity and horrific news on social media. If we subject ourselves to violence, death, crime, and overall negative news, it’s bound to take a toll on our health as well as how we might perceive the world in the long run.
- False information – especially on Facebook (from my own experience) I see fake articles every day. We all have heard of ‘catfishing’ right? I’m sure a handful of you have a personal story about this, since it is so common in today’s age to portray someone else’s image and lifestyle which is also dangerous for the person’s picture and personal information they are actually posting about. This can lead to trust issues and self-doubt when reading something online.
- Cyberbullying – still a real thing. Every day a child, adolescent, or even adult is threatened over social media, falsely accused of something, or is being bullied. For obvious reasons that I don’t need to explain, this harms mental health drastically, even causing suicide rates to increase.
Let’s move on to the pros of using social media to benefit mental health:
- Support systems – by using social media, you can connect with family and friends who live over a distance and still include them in your life to utilize them as someone that can emotionally support you when you need it.
- Making appointments – today it is easier than ever to make appointments to make sure you visit your primary care Doctor, Psychiatrist, or Counselor with ‘online portals’ where you can login to make your next appointment or even email your treatment team.
- Connecting with communities – maybe the greatest benefit of social media for mental health is the fact that you can join groups on Facebook where there are members of people on that page only to do with that topic. For example, I am a part of several Mental Health Community Pages/groups on Facebook where people share their experiences and struggles. This helps bring awareness to mental health and reminds you that you are not alone!
- Researching new ideas – Instagram is my favorite platform to scroll through when I am trying to discover new aspects of mental health. It is a great outlet for resources, quotes, and other people to follow who have similar interests.
- Sparking creativity – if you are looking for some inspiration, scrolling through social media can definitely help! There are lots of good ideas to spin off of out there and if you are looking in the right places, you might find yourself becoming more creative in your own way.
So what do you do? How do we make social media useful for us and keep our minds healthy? First, stay away from negativity! Take the time to delete people on your social media pages who don’t serve you support, information, or positivity (my favorite thing to do is delete people who constantly post about politics). If you see an article or video that you know is going to harm your mental health, don’t open it and don’t read it – simply keep scrolling. Next and most importantly, utilize social media as a platform of exploration instead of somewhere to get affirmation from others. All too often we post pictures just to get a reaction from our peers or for them to reassure us that we are pretty and have our life together. Moral of the story: share content for the right reasons – post pictures because your family and friends haven’t seen you in a while, or because it’s a good platform to document memories that you can pull up and look at in the future. Use social media as a portal to discovery instead of a hole to dump opinions, fake news, and self-esteem into. It’s all about being more mindful and remembering the real reason we are using social media in the first place. What are your thoughts?
Top 5 Lifestyle Factors that Affect Mental Health
It’s time to address the 5 lifestyle factors that most commonly influence the status of your mental health. We’ve all heard about the importance of these before – but this time I have included tips on how to balance these lifestyle factors as well as resources to follow for more information!
Just like what you eat effects your physical health, it effects your mental health equally! To help prevent symptoms of mental illness, ensuring you take care of your body by eating and drinking the right things can be the simplest and most effective option!
- Foods that are rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids will improve your mood and are proven to lift symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you hate fish (like I do) supplements are a great way to make sure you get enough of theses fatty acids – avocadoes are great too!
- Be sure not to skip breakfast and try to include lots of protein and nutrients into the first meal of the day to jump start your metabolism. For lunch, avoid foods that are high in sugar, sticking to a diet that is vegetable, fruit, and nut based.
- 8 glasses of water each day is vital to preventing dehydration which causes cloudiness of the mind and mood changes.
- Sarah Wilson, writer of “First, We Make the Beast Beautiful” and blogger/writer of “I Quit Sugar” advocates for substituting sugar for organic, non-processed foods. Benefits include increased energy, increased motivation, less snacking, more willpower, and reduced anxiety, and increased creativity!
- Avoid coffee and other forms of caffeine in access – it is known to trigger panic attacks!
This is what being a Recreational Therapist is all about! Participating in activities that you enjoy and find meaningful is so important to improve your overall quality of life and satisfaction within it. If you find it hard to make time to do ‘fun’ things or don’t find yourself enjoying what you used to, remember:
- Keep an open mind – try new activities, sports, hobbies, exercises, etc!
- Contact the recreation center in your city to find out what programs they offer – often times they are free or at least offered at a discounted price for city members.
- Join a new club – a book club, exercise club, gardening club, Mom’s club, Dad’s club, golf club, or whatever interests you! Clubs and organizations are a perfect way to meet new people and find people with similar interests.
- Don’t force connections that aren’t there – if you are finding that a social group isn’t for you, there are many other ones! Don’t stop trying.
- If social activities just really aren’t your thing (and you have given it an honest try), at minimum make sure you find a hobby or activity you can do independently that you find happiness in – reading, writing, blogging, designing, decorating, exercising, researching, etc. Note: Having both independent and social activities you enjoy is important!
Lack of sleep largely influences mental health by increasing fatigue, lack of interest, headaches, mood shifts, and irritability. Most health professionals recommend 7-9 hours of sleep. To make sure you get enough sleep:
- Go to bed at a consistent time every night – this helps to establish a routine.
- Wake up at a consistent time! Even on your days off. This will boost productivity and of course helps you get into that routine. It might take a week or so to get used to, but after a couple weeks you will feel much more energized.
- Set alarms – and don’t snooze them (the challenging part).
- Don’t over sleep! Doing this will throw off your sleep pattern and cause you to feel more tired.
- Avoid watching TV or scrolling through your phone in bed – this encourages your brain to ‘stay on’ and makes it more difficult to rest. Instead, get into the habit of showering, reading a book, meditating, journaling, or writing before bed. Not only with these activities help you sleep, but they also empty out any left over emotions from the day that might interfere with your sleep as well.
Relationships and Support Systems
Having a support system is one of the best ways to keep mental health in control! Whether it’s a family member, a friend, a counselor, a doctor, a co-worker, or anyone else – it’s important to have people established as reliable and compassionate in order to be able to turn to them when you are in need.
- Have a balance of professional and non-professional supports.
- Communicate your needs and wants appropriately and effectively.
- Set boundaries and establish how often you want to be in contact.
- Ask your supports how they are doing also – avoid only contacting them when you need something; this ensures that the relationship is healthy and strong on both ends.
- Make plans to see one another ahead of time – this will also give you something to look forward to and will hold each of you accountable.
Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ from difficult or adverse situations. Being able to master resilience is key to having a healthy mental lifestyle. Ways to build up resilient techniques is to:
- Encourage positivity
- Learn from mistakes instead of dwelling on them
- Practice self-care daily
- Be vulnerable with your support system
- Find the humor and light in every situation
- Avoid taking things personally
- Remember all of your past achievements and accomplishments.
Vitamin D for Mental Health
We know that there are a lot of physical benefits of taking a vitamin D supplement and getting natural vitamin D from things the sun and milk, such as: controlling calcium levels, preventing osteoporosis, reducing type 1 diabetes, and preventing cancers.
But did you know how Vitamin D can boost your mental health? Every day I have been taking a vitamin D supplement since I have learned and researched more about this.
Vitamin D actually activates certain neurons in the brain that play a major role in behavioral regulation! Likewise, vitamin D is the only vitamin that is a hormone after being transported to the liver and kidneys! In one study of adults with deficiency of Vitamin D found that people who received high doses of the supplement noticed dramatic improvements in their mood that lessened their depressive symptoms.
Benefits of Vitamin D on mental health are:
- Increases serotonin levels
- Prevents symptoms of seasonal affective disorder
- Reduces depression and anxiety
- Reduces the chance of comorbidity of mental illnesses
- Ensures you get enough of the vitamin in the winter time when the sun isn’t as prevalent.
There has been a lot of recent research about this topic – Another study found that rats born with insufficient Vitamin D levels had severe brain abnormalities! Pretty interesting (and scary) stuff. Next time you are at your local pharmacy or grocery store, think about picking up a vitamin D supplement and keep track of your mood for yourself! I would love to hear about how it may have helped you. Happy Labor Day, everyone!
KETO Coffee Mental Health Benefits
Hey everyone! We’ve all heard of the super “trendy” keto diet, right? Well if interested, my friend Ashley is looking for models to try KETO coffee! If you need help getting rid of fat, gaining energy, clearing your mind, reducing bloating, and shaking cravings…this is the product for you!
This KETO coffee comes in convenient on-the-go packets, so all you have to do if either mix it with hot or cold water (your preference) and drink!
Benefits of KETO coffee in summary are:
- Boosts energy levels
- Burns more fat
- Increases ketone production
- Satisfies hunger cravings
- and tastes amazing!
For more facts about keto coffee in general, visit healthline.com.
If you are interested in trying this product and/or being a “model” for Ashley, comment below! I am in the process of buying my first bag…join the process with me!
*Not only is this product great for physical health, but it also covers mental health. If you are a coffee-lover like me, start something new today!
On Water and Mental Health…
Do you think you drink enough water each day? Most days I know that I don’t, but it’s something I have been consciously trying to get better at. I wanted to do some research specifically mental health and staying hydrated, so I read an article titled: Water – a Necessity in Maintaining Mental Health to get a better understanding. After reading this, I WILL make sure I drink the recommended 8, 8oz glasses of water each day!
What I learned in summary is:
- Dehydration impairs both mood and concentration – even causing headaches.
- Fluid loss is detrimental to memory and plays a key role in anxiety and fatigue.
- Our brains are composed of 70% water – which is why our mental health needs it so much.
- Lack of enough water intake leads to depressive symptoms including apathy, sleep disturbances, and moodiness/irritability.
- Drinking enough water clears your skin/prevents acne.
Know what to look out for! Start guzzling down some H2O when you experience:
- Weak muscles
- Dry eyes/nose
- Dry mouth
**It seems like a simple task – just drink water! But we all know the struggle. Try keeping a water bottle with you at all times and refill it as often as you can to get in those 8 glasses a day. If you really want to get committed to drinking water and see the improvement in your body and health, try my favorite water bottle, Hydrate Spark! Its a smart-water bottle that lights up when you should drink it. I love to keep it right next to my computer when I’m working where I can see it. It even comes with an app for your phone that keeps track of how much water you drink each day so you don’t have to do it yourself! Check it out here!
Hello Fresh: A Review
Hello Fresh = a food delivery service that mails healthy, ready-to-cook meals right to your door each week.
Making time to eat healthy is a struggle. After spending hours at the grocery store trying to find the right foods (and spending a lot of money), I figured I would give one of the ‘food boxes’ a try. You know, the ones you always see the commercials for or get ‘junk mail’ from. Eating the right foods is super important for both our mental and physical health, so you have to choose what strategy is going to work best for you.
For me, these services are great because I live in a major city where the closest grocery store is 35 minutes away. By taking advantage of these food delivery services, I get healthy foods mailed right to my door. There are several different plans you can subscribe for. I have the 2-person x4 meals/week, meaning each week I get 4 meals that can feed 2 people. You can choose from a vegetarian menu, vegan menu, or include meats if you choose. You even get to choose the specific meals you want shipped to you. What I like about it the most, is that you can skip weeks if you get ‘backed up’ with too many meals.
I decided to go with Hello Fresh, but there are a ton of reputable food delivery companies including:
I have been getting Hello Fresh delivered for about 3 months now and we love it! It fits into our busy schedules and makes cooking fun. It takes away the countless hours spent in the grocery store to find the right products, and it also makes sure that I am eating the right foods. 90% of the meals are less than 1,000 calories and I would say the average meal is right around 750 calories.
Give it a try for yourself at https://www.hellofresh.com!
TIP: If you think the prices seem a little steep (like I thought at first), think about how much your average grocery bill costs. For me, in a 2-person home, my average grocery trip was around $120 every week and a half or so, when buying expensive healthy options. With Hello Fresh, we spend 80$ a week for healthy options that are conveniently delivered to us without having to drive out of the city and hauling them up the elevator to our apartment. So I encourage you to weigh your options when it comes to deciding 🙂
Intermittent Fasting Facts
Today I start my new diet, the 16:8 intermittent fasting routine – fast for 16 hours straight, and have an ‘open window’ to eat for the last 8 hours. You can start at any time of the day, really, just as long as you are mindful of what works best for you and your body!
I am starting at 8:00pm and fasting until 12:00pm the next day. This way, I am sleeping for most of it! And, I have never been much of a breakfast person anyways. I have researched a lot about intermittent fasting the past week or so leading up to this and would like to share for anyone else perhaps interested in trying this! I will be making another post about it next week to let you all know how it is going, including symptoms I experienced and my overall review!
- faster cellular repair, removing wastes from the body
- increased fat burning
- insulin levels lower (lowering risk of type 2 diabetes)
- targets belly fat
- increases metabolic rate by 3-14%
- reduce stress
- reduce bloating
- increased energy
- research behind preventing Alzheimer’s disease
For the full article by healthline.com, click: 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
This is the exact routing/cycle that I follow, if you are more of a visual person –
PSA/TIP: I still drink coffee in the morning right around 7:30am. I have eliminated using sugar and creamer, so now I put a pinch of cinnamon grounds in my black coffee! Not only is it much healthier, it also tastes amazing!