Samaritans Awareness Day: how to avoid toxic behaviour on social media
Samaritans Awareness Day is on the 24th of July, showing an increasing desire for mental health awareness and supporting loved ones through difficult times.
However, it's often ignored how the internet can also be detrimental to your mental health, putting you in a negative headspace which has damaging consequences. Here are a few things you might be doing that affect you negatively and some ways you can make positive changes so that you can be a happier version of you.
The internet makes it extremely easy to compare yourself to other people which can have toxic consequences. After all, the internet offers people a chance to show off their successes, a highlight reel of their life, while hiding their failures and struggles. It's easy to compare your job status, your body type, your educational achievements to those who constantly post about how happy they are with where they are in life. However, you can be happy for them, while working on your own goals and aspiration—you're a unique individual with lots to offer. Don't forget that they only show the best parts of their lives, you don't know what is happening in their lives behind the screen.
One of the best things you can do is simply unfollow or unfriend people who don't make you feel good about yourself—whether that's a model, a random stranger or even one of your friends. If you don't want to take the plunge and unfollow people, just mute them. Your social media is about you and you can tailor it to make you feel good by filling it with posts about things you love, not things that bring you down. My favourite blogger at the minute is brummymummyof2 who shows you realistic living with messy hair, takeaways and body positivity. But don't forget to take some time to live in the moment, not online, try going for a walk or meet a friend for coffee.
Social media can also affect you depending on the way you personally use it. If you only post things that get more likes, and not things you love or genuinely believe in, your time on the internet will only become draining and potentially hurt your self-esteem when something you enjoy doesn't get enough attention. Only post what you love—it doesn't matter how many likes you get, you're posting for you and not for anyone else.
Similarly, if you get trapped in a negative cycle, constantly criticising people, responding to trolls or oversharing the negative aspects of your life, this can also leave you feeling down, angry and alone. If someone sends you hate, feel sorry for them and don't give them the time of day; you can be doing so many more constructive things with your time than replying to people who waste their time hurting others. Leave some supportive and friendly comments for those who need it most.
Hopefully Samaritans Awareness Day encourages you to use the internet in a safe and positive way. There are so many people on the internet who are friendly and positive. If you or a loved one is struggling, please reach out to those around you, or contact Samaritans.