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Social Media: Cleanse Your Newsfeed, Cleanse Your Soul

Everybody knows that too much social media is bad for our mental health. We are constantly told that, especially by patronising adults, but realistically nobody is deactivating their Facebook or Instagram any time soon.

Right now we are more connected to one another than we ever have been at any point in the history of time, and this can be a great thing. I for one love being able to keep up with the lives of my family who live in many different countries across the globe by sharing pictures and videos.

The toxic side of social media, however, cannot be ignored. The rise of Instagram has also led to the rise of the ‘Influencer’. People who influence their followers by convincing them to shop with a certain brand or drink a certain tea, or even suck a certain lollypop (Kim K followers will know what I’m talking about) in order to live a perfectly filtered life.

In my opinion, even the most confident and headstrong characters would struggle not to compare their own lives to these perfectly filtered, skinny green tea drinkers. This is where the problems lie. Even on a subconscious level, comparing yourself to completely unrealistic images will inevitably impact your self esteem.

As I said, I know from experience that reading blogs like this won’t suddenly inspire you to take yourself of the grid, but there are small steps you can take to cleanse your feed. I was first told by a friend to unfollow all the ‘Influencers’ who’s pages or posts I wasn’t genuinely interested in (e.g. because they fought for a cause, or posted interesting photos).

This is a small thing you can do that I think can make a big difference. If we’re going to spend hours a day scrolling we can at least be scrolling through inspiring and informational pages.

I’m not saying purge your entire social media account, just take steps to consider how you feel when you see different types of posts. There are loads of people out there using social media for good, interesting and inspiring causes and I’m telling you from experience that seeing things like that every day makes me feel slightly less guilty about the amount of time I spend scrolling.

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Lizzy posts

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

If you’ve been considering taking action to better your mental health, or get involved in your local community, there’s no better time than this week to do it.

It’s mental health awareness week across the UK, a chance to really bring issues surrounding mental health to the forefront and apply even more pressure for everyone to start sharing their stories.

The theme of this year is stress, something which affects everyone in varying ways and to different degrees. A bit of stress in life is normal, and even a good thing, if we were never stressed at all, nothing would get done.

The problems begin to develop when we experience an irrational amount of stress in too many parts of our life and have no outlet for it. In today’s busy, interconnected and high pressure world we are seeing more and more people struggle with this. Stress can lead on to more serious mental health issues like anxiety and depression so this years #mentalhealthawarenessweek wants to nip the problem in the bud by starting the discussion.

Often the main cause of stress is losing perspective, whether it be at work, with family or personal life. While it is far easier said than done, dealing with stress is about accepting things you cannot change, and understanding that the world won’t end because of it. Important ways of doing this are simple: acknowledging that you are feeling stressed and taking a bit of time out, doing some deep breathing and feeling the stress come, and then go without engaging with it and giving it any power over you.

Perhaps one of the biggest sources of stress in most people’s life is work. Often our jobs can take over our lives and we lose perspective of what is really important, and the importance of a work life balance. This years awareness week is therefore trying to further the discussion about mental health in the workplace. Often lose perspective and let stresses at work take over our lives.

To make it even worse, there is a serious disconnect between employers and employees when it comes to discussing and taking responsibility for mental health. That’s why this week Mind is creating focused information for employers and employees on how to create a healthy, open and productive workspace. https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-awareness-week-2018/

If you’re an employer or an employee, use this week to take notice of your work environment and see if there is anything to be done to make it more open and honest. Aside from that, everyone can take part in this week by being open and honest about what’s going on in their heads, and taking steps to listen to others too.

 

 

 

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***EVENT ALERT***

[Sorry it has been a while since the last blog, deadlines have taken over]

Rainbow Heron in association with Chilypep and Sheffield MIND are proud to present an art, activism, youth and mental health event.

On Tuesday 5th June, 2018 at The Quaker Meeting House, 6-9pm. The event is open to all and will involved conversations, debates, presentations and discussions centred around how art and activism can help create a more inclusive future for young people when it comes to mental health.

Art is an important form of expression and has been shown to lessen feelings of depression and anxiety. Creating something is a way of being able to see with your own eyes something that you are feeling internally. Art is a way of externalising the feelings that you may otherwise struggle to express, giving them less power over you.

Although some people may not necessarily identify as artistic, everybody has something to give and art can come in the most abstract of forms.

If you think that this is something that might interest you, then please follow the link on this Poster for tickets and more information. There is no obligation to take part, observers are welcome, who knows – you might be inspired!

 

Lizzy posts

Mental health nature week 1: Green is a happy colour

Often when we are feeling down, a walk in the park, or a relax in the garden can help to brighten our mood, so much so that there is actually a field of science dedicated to exploring why.

The field of ecotherapy is attempting to develop scientific evidence to back up the long standing assumption that nature is physically good for us. Since the 1980s, there have been theories that our love for nature is rooted deep in our biology and genetics.

In 2016, professors at Harvard University confirmed the link between more green space and lower mortality rates. To relate back to some of my earlier posts, being in greenspaces can help to ground us, and bring us out of our anxious or depressive thought patterns and into the real, rational world.

Korea is developing a healing forests initiative, and Sweden virtual nature spaces are becoming widely prescribed. In the UK and more specifically in Sheffield there is the IWUN project (improving wellbeing through urban nature).

Academics and nature organisations are working together do develop an app, connecting city-dwellers and offering the chance to have a say in how their urban spaces are green-ified, and explore the connection between socioeconomic status and interaction with green space. The final aim of this is to develop a way to feed this knowledge into policy and avoid the continued destruction of green space in favour of urban developments.

The Landscape institute has recently released a position statement on the importance of ‘healthy places’ to public health. The document talks through the physical and mental healing powers of green (and blue!) space, as well as the opportunities it provides for social development. Urban areas with more green space have been shown to experience lower levels of antisocial behaviour, and more social interaction.

Through the month of April (in the couple of days of sun that are staring to squeeze through the cold) try to make it your goal to get outside at least once each day, spend some time outside and see if you can feel the benefits!

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Relationships Week 2: Romance and Mental Health

When they’re right and healthy, a romantic relationship can work wonders for our mental health. A recent study by Mind has revealed that one in five people believe that sharing their mental health issues has had a positive impact on their mental health.

But this relationship goes both ways as the same number of people believed that talking about their mental health actually made the relationship easier to manage.

47% of people said that dating someone who had openly discussed their mental health problem was not as daunting as they thought as someone’s mental health struggles do not define them.

The same study also revealed, however that mental health can put a strain on relationships due to financial and unemployment issues. These strains make it all the more important that we are open and honest with our partners about the state of our mental health as it can prepare for problems that may be around the corner.

Paying close attention to how we are communicating within a relationship can avoid the build up of anger, resentment or frustration within a relationship. For more detailed and professional guidance on the intricacies of navigating the mental health and relationships take a look at the charity Relate (link below). Their whole campaign is based around promoting health relationships as well as providing points of contact for a wide array of needs.

Issues with mental health can also impact the sexual aspect of relationships, again Relate covers this, with specific reference to LGBTQ+ relationships. Specific advice is important as the sexual side to relationships can differ widely across the relationship spectrum.

Lizzy posts

Relationships week 1: The importance of healthy relationships and knowing what they are.

Often subconsciously, we view ourselves through the eyes of the people we are closest to, whether that be through romance, friendship or a more professional connection. Our relationships make up a huge part of who we are and how we create our identities, we are the people that we surround ourselves with.

As humans we are made for connections, and to be part of a community but in today’s world we are more disconnected than ever before. A study has shown Britain to be the loneliest place in Europe, with more and more virtual friendships, and families living further and further apart from each other.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, relationships are the forgotten ingredient to a healthy mind, and can reduce risk of blood pressure as well as an array of mental health problems.

An important part of mental health maintenance is focusing in on our bodies and minds, but just as important is focusing on our external relationships. Making connections with the people around us also means that the people we are close to are better equipped to see a change in our behaviours where we may not be able to.

Working together as a community can make sure that nobody will have to suffer in silence, or feel isolated or lonely, and will in turn make us better prepared, and equipped with a support system, to focus on the other aspects of staying healthy.

Over the month of March we will be discussing an array of different relationships and their importance to our mental health. From professional, romantic, medial and friendship based. The power of a positive, empowering relationship cannot be underestimated.

Lizzy posts

Community and Kindness Week 3: Getting involved.

(Sorry this week’s post is slightly late!)

Just a quick, practical and to the point post this week. Over the last two weeks I’ve talked about the benefits of getting involved in the local community, or even volunteering on a personal level. So I thought this week it might be a good idea to actually provide you with some impressive local initiatives that you can join (I’ve done half the work already – so you have no excuse not to!).

The Sheffield Volunteer Centre on Rockingham Street has a drop-in face to face service able to provide advice to people who are interested in volunteering. You can also create your own profile which organisations can then view if they are looking for someone.

Link: http://www.sheffieldvolunteercentre.org.uk/start-volunteering

Going more down the community route, something I found really interesting was the Terminus initiative. Since 2002 the initiative runs events promoting better health & wellbeing for the local community in Lowedges, Batemoor & Jordanthorpe. Currently runs Community Food Growing Project, community lunches (including cooking), boxing club, children’s activities, information about local courses and other events. Previous groups have included dance classes, mental wellbeing sessions.

This could be the sort of place you contact to volunteer, but also to attend and make use of the events and activities.

Link: https://www.facebook.com/TheTerminusInitiative/

For any students at the University of Sheffield looking to get into volunteering, the Sheffield University Volunteering Centre is a great source of information (it’s actually how I ended up writing these posts). You create a profile and list your preferences and will get weekly email updates. Some opportunities are just one offs, others are weekly, semipermanent or permanent positions.

Link: https://www.sheffieldvolunteering.com/

I hope these links give you a good starting point to get involved in your local community. Talking from experience – you won’t ever look back. Its a rewarding and highly educational experience. If you have any of your own volunteering experiences or resources, please comment or share below.