We live in two worlds: the one we see, feel, touch and smell, and the one that exists online, which we enter through our phones, tablets or laptops.
Our relationships with the real and online worlds are important to us, but to live healthy and happy lives it’s important to maintain a balance between both. Your online life should complement your offline life, but never, ever replace it.
Your online persona should reflect who you really are. Nobody is perfect, and every life has its ups and downs. Don’t feel under pressure to create an online persona that filters out every perceived imperfection, and don’t buy into other people’s filtered realities either.
Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel!
Think for a second about our place in time.
Billions and billions of lives were lived before we were born. Billions and billions of opportunities to build on the hard work of those who came before us.
We learned how to crush herbs to heal illnesses, how to make drugs to stop deaths from infection, how to transplant organs. We trained pigeons to deliver messages, invented the telegram and can now have face-to-face conversations with loved ones across the globe.
But we haven’t yet learned the single most important lesson of all.
How to be kind.
People who seem perfect make us uncomfortable. But people who seem imperfect also make us uncomfortable. In this day and age, with the epidemic of anxiety that we experience, we are given countless opportunities to bring a little light into each other’s lives. Positivity is just as infectious as negativity.
Forgiving someone for their mistakes doesn’t mean that we condone the behaviour. it is recognising that we are all works in progress, and knowing that, one day, we too will need forgiveness.
We build people up for their talent, then we judge their move, holding them accountable for our feelings about their actions. When they suffer, we click even more furiously. We have a one-strike-and-you’re-out attitude, which can drag another human person into depths of stress and despair that we can never understand.
Before you comment online (or in-person), ask yourself three questions:
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?
If not, maybe it doesn’t need to be shared with the world.
We love social media. It’s a great way to chat to friends, seek inspiration and find out what’s going on in the world. But it is good to know exactly what we’re dealing with, and research has found that depression linked to social media is two times higher in girls than in boys. Two-fifths of girls use social media for over three hours a day, and that seems to be related to our mood and our sleep patterns. Listen, we have no intention of telling you to get rid of your phone. But if you notice some changes in mood, maybe reduce your time for a few days and see how you feel.
Track your online time for a couple of days:
You’ll be surprised how much time scrolling you actually do. Some tracking apps will give you a free report, but it might not be pretty! If social media is distracting you from more important things like study or sleep, there are also apps like Cold Turkey, which will ban some sites for specific times.
Mute your notifications:
How many times do you pick up your phone, dismiss a notification and put it down again? Silence is golden.
Leave your phone downstairs:
Your brain needs and deserves a break. Give your phone a bedtime and tuck it into a kitchen drawer. You can even kiss it goodnight if you want to!
Don’t hit it first thing:
Don’t pick up your phone before you do anything else. Give your brain a break before you start bombarding it with information. Get dressed, have breakfast and brush your teeth, then knock yourself out.
Keep your hands busy:
A lot of phone use is just a form of fidgeting. Do some colouring, sketching, knitting – or squeeze your sister’s blackheads!
Remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; life is all about BALANCE. Just cut down a little, and see if you notice a difference.
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