Connecting with people and the world around you
Mental Health Awareness Week: Taking time to connect with friends, family and the environment.
Not all of us realise this, but we spend a lot of time staring at screens – phones, laptops, tablets and the TV. It all adds up, especially if you're office-based and you spend most of your day working on a computer anyway.
By the time you get home, your eyes are probably tired, and your brain needs a rest too – but what do you do? As creatures of habit, the TV goes on, you check social media platforms, switch on your home laptop and “catch up”. All of which will only add to the strain on your eyes and on your brain.
Living in a time where you can instantly communicate with people is both a blessing and a curse. It means that you can talk to your cousins in Australia whenever you need to, but it also means that if someone is demanding your attention, you can feel like you have no excuse not to answer. The assumption that you are constantly available for people to contact can be draining.
Personally, I know that I don’t like having unread messages in my inboxes that I haven’t responded to. But this can add unnecessary pressure, as I feel like I always need to respond quickly and have my phone to hand. Easing that pressure requires a shift in thinking – both for everyone sending messages who are expecting an immediate response and the people receiving them, worrying about not replying straight away.
Don’t be afraid to tell people that you have down time away from your devices. We all need to disconnect sometimes.
Ella Petkova, Graduate System Support Analyst
The power of blue light
Have you ever wondered why Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media platforms have blue as their primary colour? Or why you can’t seem to fall asleep at night after scrolling through social media? The answer is that blue light boosts alertness, which can disrupt your natural waking and sleeping cycle.
If you don’t want to give up your evening ritual of scrolling, one way to lessen the strain on your eyes is to use a filter.
- For iPhones, go into your Settings – Display and Brightness – Night Shift. There you can adjust the time this starts and the intensity of the filter.
- For Android devices, I personally have an app called Twilight. It uses your location to determine sunrise and sunset times and adjusts your screen brightness accordingly.
- For your computer or laptop, you could use f.lux – it works on the same principle of location and brightness adjustment.
How 'real' is social media?
Another aspect of social media is how selective it is in showing you parts of people’s lives. We sometimes get caught up in all the holiday pictures, gym photos and celebrity lifestyles that we forget all of these people who are pushing out “cool” content are just normal people too, and they have parts of their lives that they don’t want to share publicly – just like the rest of us.
Admittedly, we all like to put our best foot forward when sharing with the world, but we end up being bombarded with content that has been specifically selected to look good. That’s a normal human characteristic– you don’t always want to tell everyone that you spilled your tea or that your toddler had a tantrum in the middle of the street.
So, next time you catch yourself thinking that someone's life is perfect or that they look great in that photo, remember that all social media posts are just snapshots. Not only that, but they are the better moments, the prettier moments, the “take 20 photos and choose one to upload” moments. They are not everything, not the whole story and, more importantly, they are not something to compare yourself to.
Detoxing from the digital world
In a time where the world’s information at your fingertips 24/7, the temptation to live in that virtual broadcast can become overwhelming. It may be difficult to break some habits, but small lifestyle changes can help reduce the time you spend in front of a screen.
- Swap out the evening TV programme for some board games or just have a chat with no background television noise to distract
- Go for more walks – explore the physical world around you, you might find new areas of interest
- Make new hobbies or meet other people
- Listen to the radio for the news rather than the constant bombardment of 24-hour televised news
Or why not just put your phone on silent? You never know, you might just see something around you that you’ve never noticed before.
Ella PetkovaGraduate System Support Analyst
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