How to take a break from social media

Last night I spent just under a good hour worrying about my Instagram. I used to have better hobbies, I swear. Instagram has become one of my favourite platforms to mindlessly scroll through in the past year or two and it’s the platform that I’ve lead myself to believe I can be more ‘genuinely myself’ on. Last year I told myself to curate my Instagram feed so that I’m only seeing things that make me feel good and inspire me but what happens when you get to a point where you’re not even taking in the ‘positive vibes’ that you’re pushing in your own face and sit bothering yourself for minutes on end about how many of your ‘friends’ are liking your posts or interacting with that dumb poll you put on your story? What happens when you feel literally agitated that your photos aren’t as ‘pretty’ and ‘high quality’ as an ‘Instagram influencer’?

Ridiculous Instagram obsession happens, that’s what.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

I found myself considering deleting all my accounts – to take a break and then if I wanted to come back to Instagram I could start afresh. But even that idea filled me with pathetic stress – but what if I regret it? What about the really nice photos I’ve taken, what if any new account in the future doesn’t look that cool? What if people won’t care if I delete my account?

If I’m worrying that people won’t care if I delete an online account that I literally survived my whole life not having up until like 2014 and that if people don’t acknowledge me deleting it is suddenly an equatable value to people not liking me in reality, then I think I’m having a completely different problem. Social media is both a blessing and literal hell. It can be a great place for sharing your art, sharing your creations, your achievements, building a career or finding people with common grounds to begin long distance friendships and communities – but it can also grind your confidence down until you find yourself putting your own worth into the number of followers or likes you have.

What I’d like to do is give some tips on how to reduce your social media usage. Scroll time, if you will.

Put your phone in the bottom of your bag

Sounds daft but almost everyone now keeps their mobile phone in their coat or trouser pocket. If you stuff your phone deep down into your bag, it makes the mindless act of grabbing your phone and tapping away much more of a chore and you can start teaching yourself to think ‘do I really need to check my phone right now?’ Obviously take safety into account with this one, if you feel much safer carrying your phone on your person when walking down the busy street do so, but when it comes to chilling at a friend’s house or in the library pop it away – it will help you stay more present in the moment.

Check in on a friend instead

Easier said than done from someone as shy as me, but if you are feeling nosey about what your friends are doing and find yourself opening Facebook or Instagram to seek out what’s occuring – consider texting or calling them instead and asking how they are – maybe see if you can meet up for coffee. There’s two sides to this idea; either you’ll start a lovely conversation with your friend and you’ll also make them feel cared for by checking in and you will then be distracted from endlessly swishing through your Twitter feed for gossip. Maybe even buddy up with a friend who wants to spend less time on social media and encourage each other!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Use the Forest – Stay Focused app

I have mentioned this phone app before but it really is such a good concept for reducing the time someone uses their phone! On the Forest app you pop in an amount of time you want to stop yourself from using your phone, start the timer and lock your phone. As your phone is locked and you don’t unlock it you grow trees and plants on the app to build a mini forest – if you unlock your phone, your tree dies. Using this and turning off your lock-screen notifications is a great way of reducing your scroll time. Perfect for when you need to be studying or you are sat down with a group of friends or loved ones.

Delete your social media apps

Stop panicking I’m not saying delete your accounts! Whenever you feel you’re spending too much time obsessing over an app or scrolling through a platform is just distracting you too often try uninstalling it for a bit. Maybe tell yourself you can have them installed on the weekend but on Sunday night 9pm you delete Instagram and you can’t reinstall it until Friday 5pm. Short breaks from a platform are better than nothing and eventually you might find yourself not even feeling the need to reinstall a particular app.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I know from experience, when you have a bit of a social media dependency, this is all easier said than done but I hope some of these tips help you take a much needed break from social media and it’s fierce grip. Remember to check in on yourself 3-4 times over a day and ensure you are looking after yourself in a way that suits you and your beautiful self. Not the ‘bubble bath and cheeky prosecco’ self care that Instagram shows off. Although there are more and more people acknowledging how fake social media photos can be and claiming they are showing a ‘truthful’ side to their lives, it’s very rare you will see anybody’s properly low days. Never equate yourself to a face, body or lifestyle that you’ve only seen through a screen.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a beautiful week!

Header source: lalo Hernandez on Unsplash

The Five H’s of University Worries

I’m so excited about university, lately it’s probably one of the most prominent things on my mind and tongue. I recently accepted my unconditional offer from York St John university and come September this year, I’ll be a student there! Am I bricking it? Absolutely.

Obviously it’s normal to get a bit nervous and have some anxiety, especially if you’re moving away from your hometown to this new place. So I thought I’d share some of my 5 current worries about starting university because who knows, maybe other people have them too! Or students might have had them and known how to overcome them!

  1. Hunger
    So technically, if I was to receive my second accommodation preference this might be less of a worry(living that self-catered life), but my ideal uni flat would require me sharing a kitchen with flat mates and also cooking for myself. Now if you know me well enough you’ll know I could probably try and cook beans on toast and still mess it up. Ok maybe I’m not, that bad – but I’m hardly a chef or baker. I’m also hugely unreliable with money. I can imagine I’ll end up blowing my food allowance mainly on crap I might not need and come home and be like ‘well I forgot an actual important thing like dinner’.
  2. Home sickness
    Now I did get offers for Manchester based universities but I wanted to take this opportunity to get out of town and try a new city. York is absolutely lovely and I can imagine I’ll get used to it as a nice home but I am really prone to getting home sick. When I was in year 7 at a two night camping trip, I remember crying to sleep because I wanted my parents. God forbid this happening at uni. Not because I’m ashamed but literally not having my parents in face-to-face distance for once might be a bit more shocking to my system. My anxious, easily frightened system.
  3. Hearing
    This worry is probably not as ‘relatable’ as every students worry but I’m mentioning it anyways. Maybe to get it off my chest or maybe hopefully I can look back and be like ‘this was nothing to worry about’. Obviously my hearing will play a big part in my university life, whether or not I want it to. I’m highly scared of missing stuff in lectures or even missing out on conversations with people that might end up with not feeling as inclusive with potential friends or maybe being seen as rude or strange by others.
  4. Homework
    I have not had homework for almost 3 years. Therefore having to do essays and important work in my free time is definitely going to feel really strange to me. I am positive I’ll enjoy my course and probably the things we’ll be given assignments on but I’m praying that my procrastination side won’t kick in during university. I hate being stressed and late on work so I need to try hard to get stuff done as soon as I get assigned it.
  5. Humans
    Ok bear with me, I had a hard time think of a ‘H’ word for people/friendships. But basically, the worst fear of university – especially one in a new city – is being able to make friends. Now I don’t want to get all open and mopey but making friends has always been a toughie for me in the past. In recent years it’s obviously changed and I’m glad I’m seeing my self-esteem and confidence grow but I can feel inside me, I’m going to be shy when I go to university. Hopefully Freshers and the staggering amount of alcohol will maybe dissolve that shyness but ho hum.

So that’s basically my anxieties about the upcoming student year but the positives and excitement definitely weigh it all out! Did you guys have any of this starting university? Or maybe even have it currently about your future university? I’d love to hear people’s views on it!

 

Thanks for reading,

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#TimeToTalk Day

Mental Health (n): In regard to an individual’s psychological and emotional well-being.

Mental health problems can affect anybody. Sometimes it can be triggered by something or develop at any given moment. Nobody has a choice in how their well-being is affected and it is nobody’s fault if they develop a mental health problem. People with mental health issues can be as strong and kind as people without any.

If you suffer from mental health problems you should never sit alone and blame yourself. You are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you. However I know when your mental state takes a turn, the world can feel completely different.

It is actually a myth that depression is highly uncommon. According to statistics recorded in 2014, there was around 1.6 million people got in contact with mental health specialists. Obviously all of these cases won’t always be depression. They can be related to bereavement depression, post-natal depression, anxiety, OCD, schizophrenia, a range of personality disorders, PTSD, sleeping disorders, eating disorders, stress, addiction, body dysmorphic disorder, bipolar or even trichotillomania. A lot of these can even interchange with each other and that is highly common. Some of these disorders can even be symptoms of another thing.

So as today is Time to Talk day, I’ve decided to write this post to encourage people to speak up and talk to others. Whenever I suffer from symptoms that affect my well-being and mental health I do find it helpful to talk to someone I trust and have a discussion. Bottling things up is never healthy and can even cause more anxiety or stress. Even if it’s not you personally who is struggling, if you believe someone else is, the best thing you  can do is try and encourage them to talk about it or even speak to their GP if they have continuous symptoms. A lot of excellent organisations including Rethink Mental Illness, BEAT, Mind and Time to Change talk about symptoms and different disorders on their websites.

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Illustration by Stephen Collins

I am someone who suffers from mental health disorders and struggles with my mental well-being. Some symptoms I have never been able to pinpoint the name for them or get a diagnosis but I know I am not the only one who suffers with these battles.

So this is my personal message on Time to Talk day to make anyone feel less alone and know they have someone like them. I know what it’s like to feel so extremely low you feel like there is no point in getting up to the day, I know the effort there is to get yourself out of bed to college or work and not let yourself get overwhelmed by other people and their attitudes, I know what it’s like to look at yourself in the mirror and not like what you see, no matter what exercise you do or food you eat. I know what it’s like to binge eat without even realising what you’re doing and then suddenly crash and feel guilty and sick. It feels like your stomach is filled with toxic material that you just want to release. I know what it’s like to want to scream but know nobody will hear you. I know what it’s like to feel alone.

But I promise you, you are not alone. There will always be somebody out there to talk to. Whether it’s family, friends, your doctor or a counselor. There is so much in the world for you to explore.

You are a warrior and you can do it.

So try and find someone to chat to, in person or online and have a brew. Have a conversation.

It’s time to talk.

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Helena x

 

Skin Picking

So my disclaimer to this post is that it might gross people out a bit. It’s a habit I’ve had for a good few years now that people always give me disgusted looks for or even get impatient with me when they catch me doing it.

Since puberty my skin was obviously cursed with the despicable teenage acne. I used to get really bad crowds of whiteheads on my back, chest and face. My nose and upper lip has always had blackheads and my face would always get those annoying under-the-skin, throbbing pimples at least every other week. I am thankful my acne is not as bad as it was when I was in high school or college, however every often I still get bad spots. Makes it even worse that I pick. I scratch and squeeze at spots that I get and if I don’t do that, I spend the day stroking and touching the bit of skin that has the blemish on it. At first when growing up, I used to pick and scratch at acne because I wanted it gone, part of me thought if I picked out the gross pus or dirt underneath the spot, I would help get rid of it quicker.

However now in recent years, I’ve noticed I do it when I’m stressed or anxious. If I’m anxious about going out and getting ready I find myself scratching at spots. When I’ve had a bad day, going up to a mirror and squeezing and roughly picking any blemish I can find on my face – even a blackhead not even someone with perfect vision would probably notice – distracts my mind and calms me down. Doing my own research, the skin picking seems very relevant to my anxiety and possibly ‘BDD’. When I am anxious or stressed, I become preoccupied with my skin and picking and scratching feels like I am getting rid of dirt or bad stuff on my skin. It is almost relaxing to me but at the end of the day I really damage my skin and end up with scabs and wounds that last longer than a spot would or even acne scars that last months.

I write this post today because, although the past few months I’ve gotten way better at not picking at my skin, I am having a regression week where two spots on my face I  can’t stop picking and the day after they heal with yellow scabs and I end up picking them off again. I hope maybe admitting to my problem on ‘paper’ might kickstart me not doing it again. But I also wanted to share some tips I have, in case anybody else believes they might have a problem with acne/skin picking.

  1. Putting plasters on pimples or blemishes when at home/in private to prevent picking.
  2. Face masks! Not only do they help cleanse and soothe your face but also prevent mindless picking.
  3. Always clean your makeup brushes and take makeup off before sleeping. This prevents any blemishes from dirty makeup. Which then prevents picking.
  4. If you do unfortunately scratch, wash your face and then finish washing with cold water. Cold water helps close open pores preventing further dirt entering.
  5. Gloves – admittedly I don’t do this often, but I’ve heard on other blog posts that people with compulsive skin picking have written, gloves can create a barrier.
  6. When you feel like picking, paint your nails. This gives you a reason to keep your hands still.
  7. Continuing the painted nails – if you feel like picking your skin, pick at the varnish on your nails instead.
  8. If you can, stroke a pet when you feel like picking. This is a numbing situation in which you can zone out whilst stroking your pet, much like you might zone out and relax when picking or after squeezing a spot. Plus your pet will love you!

If anybody else can share any other tips – believe me I’d appreciate them!

Thanks for reading,

Helena x