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Mini manifesto for maintaining mental health in the world of social media

Today is World Mental Health Day. As an individual and as a business owner, I have a lot of time for anything that promotes wellbeing and the awareness of mental health, and this morning I felt as though I would like to contribute to the worldwide online conversation prompted by WMHD. Having a look through my social media posts to see how the conversation was going, I was both lifted by seeing so many heartfelt, supportive and informative posts, and aware of a growing sense of pressure to need to DO something to join in this conversation in a way that reflected well on my business. Ooh, this was an uncomfortable shift away from what I'd started off feeling, and it did not sit well with me, especially in the context of what Mental Health Day is all about. I shut down my computer and began to wonder what was going on and what I was going to do about it.

A bit later on and having had a chance to reflect, I had another look at my feeds to double check something I thought might have been happening. Yes indeed, the posts I was interested in were interspersed with adverts letting me know how I should do this or that to 'reach more people' or how I could sign up to a course to get 'more followers'. Though I mostly ignore these kind of posts, I register them on some level or other, and they can sometimes ignite a sense of urgency about needing to DO things specifically to get more people to follow me. This type of urgency can (and often does) fuel my anxiety levels (anxiety is my weak spot, the bit of my mental health I need to keep an eye on and nurture so that it remains informative rather than overwhelming) and tries to take me to a mindset that is basically inauthentic, and not somewhere I would want to be communicating from.

So, I'd identified something that was going on. The next step was to figure out how to respond to it. The first bit was to remind myself that I do not believe in what my anxiety was trying to get me to believe; it does not fit with my worldview and the way I like to lead my life or run my business. Rather than dwell on why it can sometimes be so easy to be sidetracked into anxious thinking, I decided that I was going to make a conscious statement on how I intended to react to and behave on social media. Even having that thought felt good, and immediately released the tendrils of anxiety that were still hovering. I've since spent a very enjoyable time thinking through the components of this mini-manifesto, putting what I have always believed in a generic sense into a coherent and context-specific form, which has been fun and unexpectedly liberating. And here it is... I'd like to hope that it's of some help to others, perhaps by sparking off ideas for your own mini-manifesto in whatever area of life it would be helpful!

Mini-manifesto : social media

  1. I will post on social media, write a journal entry or a newsletter when I really feel I have something to say. I will feel no pressure to post or write anything when I don't..

  2. I will post or write about things that mean something to me and that I hope will mean something to others. I will feel no pressure to write about anything else, just because I 'ought to' post regularly.

  3. I will comment on someone else's post if I feel moved to. I will be less shy about commenting, and I will feel no pressure to comment if it doesn't feel authentic.

  4. I will 'like' the posts I genuinely like. I will feel no pressure to 'like' a post for any other reason.

  5. I will follow the people and organisations that I like and respect, and will feel no pressure to follow anyone else, just because online social media advice tells me that I should.

  6. I will stop reading advice about what I 'should' be doing with my social media.

  7. I will enjoy being very serious online and having fun at the same time.

This is pretty much what I do anyway, but there is something about having put it into a formal statement of intention that has created a tangible tool to reach for as and when anxious feelings try to take a hold.

This started off as an exercise to put my own generalised beliefs into a very specific context to help me out when I'm feeling a particular kind of anxiety. But when I think about it (and this shouldn't really be a surprise) the writing from other people that resonates with me invariably seems to have a strong sense of authenticity. Perhaps that's my key word for today: authenticity. It fits with how I feel today, and it is also a significant factor to consider when maintaining good mental health in general.

I would love to know your thoughts... would you change or add anything to this mini-manifesto? Will you create your own? Do get in touch if you feel so moved.


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