Dealing with mental health issues while working in social media

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We here at Social Cut are avid supporters of nurturing mental health, and this Queensland Mental Health week we’re here to talk about the effect of mental health on those of us who work with social media for a living (or even as a part of our daily business lives).

 

Social media encourages users to present the most extroverted, bright and bubbly version of themselves to the world. Whether you work as a freelancer, in a small business or for a larger company, working with social media demands a high level of energy and confidence. But what about those of us who have anxiety, depression, OCD or another mental health challenge? How do you keep up with the expectations of the industry, especially through difficult times or episodes? Thankfully, there are strategies you can implement to manage your mental health and your work.

 

The world of social media and small business is rife with comparison. Your colleagues and competitors are only a click away, and it can be demoralising to see their ‘perfect’ life or business when you don’t feel that way about yourself or your business. Here’s the deal: you are not alone. Lots of people feel the way you do. Reach out to your friends who work in the social media sphere, you’ll be surprised with how universal your experiences are.  Having these conversations also breaks down the barriers of social media and how it can affect our mental health on a social level, but social media also has a neurochemical effect on us. We reached out to an expert to comment on the impact that social media really has on our brains.

“The neurochemistry of our brain has an enormous impact on how each person thinks and feels on a daily basis. One of the biggest contributors to excessive neurochemical levels is our constant focus on technology devices and social media, sadly for many of us, 24/7.  This inability to take a break from the intrusion of our devices often means that a person is living in a sort of brain overload. If we have an excessive amount of adrenaline and norepinephrine flooding through our body, because the brain neurons are firing at a higher level; then we are going to feel more angry, irritated, explosive and argumentative while those neurochemical levels remain high. 

By controlling our overloaded neurochemical levels by choosing downtime, walking in nature, and getting your energy flowing through enjoyable activity and laughter, we are making a smart contribution to better brain health.  We think, feel and behave better with higher levels of conscious choice, awareness and happiness. When our lifestyle is based on a balanced and measured use of technology, we are more aware of the real world and thus, we can better transmit positive neurochemical signals.” - Peter Doyle, Corporate Psychologist & Director of Guidelight Psychology and Wellness

So the question is: how do you break the pattern without compromising our work or feeling guilty about it?

If you’re an Apple iPhone user, update your iOS now! Tracking screen time and app usage is a good way to personally keep tabs on your mobile phone usage. You’ll likely see a lot of your usage time is in Instagram if you’re in the industry but by setting personal usage goals and limits it can help keep you on task and reduce the likeliness of heading down a “stalk spiral” in someone-else’s account. The Android P operating system also has a time tracking software that allows you to set notifications to nudge you when you’re going overtime on an app. Another handy one here is set Do Not Disturb mode on your phone between ‘bedtime’ hours so you don’t hear the constant vibration of notifications throughout the night.


We’re also starting to see a rise in wellness workshops that are teaching people how to let go and unplug from their devices. One of these is Guidelight’s Wellness in the Wilderness, based on the Gold Coast, which specifically focuses on using positive psychology and grounding techniques to take control of negative thought patterns. Do a quick Google search of local workshops in your area (or shoot us a message and we’ll help you find one).


You also don’t have to wait until things get bad to seek help. Running a business is stressful without mental health challenges. However, the added pressure that comes from managing your mental health can complicate completing the work that you need to get done. This can lower the productivity and quality of your work. If your mental health is affecting your work and you are not already seeing a professional, consider asking your doctor to set up a mental health plan.

 

The Australian Government will provide ten compensated sessions with a psychologist or therapist to figure out what’s going on in your head. Seeing a psychologist is nothing to be ashamed of! We aren’t meant to be able to do everything on our own. A mental health professional can provide a confidential, non-biased take on your situation and equip you with strategies to manage your mental health in the workplace. These sessions may only be needed for a short period of time, or you may require ongoing treatment. At any rate, a mental health plan allows you to get guidance on your work/life/mental health balance – your ten sessions are available for you at any time.

 

Your mental health is important, and your work should not compromise it. If you need help coping you can see a councillor or psychologist, reach out to your friends and family or consult an anonymous service like lifeline (13 11 14). 


This article was written by Em Readman, our junior copywriter who loves a good flat white, the non-fiction section of a bookstore and gasping at her phone whenever someone posts a cute dog photo on Instagram.