Social Media & Mental Health – How to Use Social Media for Good

Jemma Finch, co-founder of Stories Behind Things, shares the tools you need to use social media in a way that has a more positive impact.

We all know the feeling of that red notification next to your favourite app, tempting you into spending just one more minute scrolling, checking, consuming and comparing. It’s getting pretty invasive even if we don’t consciously realise that more than half the average day is spent consuming visual data in some form. The realities can often leave viewers feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. 

With the comparison culture at an all time high, social media is an ever growing source of anxiety for generations that are surrounded by visual comparison on a daily basis. The average time spent per day consuming content for the average Gen Z is ten hours, uncovering the reality of the undeniable damage this will be having on mental health (stat from Edited, 2019). This finding is across all different mediums – Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.

For me personally, modern day anxiety comes down to the volume at which we are all consuming. Consuming technology, imagery, products, influence. The act of connecting to the clothes we wear, what we eat and what energy we put out to the world daily has always been a curiosity for me. I entered into the sustainability space from a mental health perspective; co-founding Stories Behind Things was an act of self care for myself and my co-founder Ella, to simply start connecting to the material objects around us – to celebrate the stories behind what we wear and what we surround ourselves with on a daily basis. Re-building that connection and slowing down our minds to make intentional and conscious decisions was an extremely fun and playful process for us.

So, what can we do? 

Using social media for good is my solution to the growing anxiety rates and negative effects that over consumption is having. Here’s your starter pack for using social media for good:

1. Streamline your world. Finding the right communities online can be a total game changer. Your Instagram feed is your world to design, which leaves you with the responsibility of designing and maintaining it to stay balanced and healthy.  Start by deleting and unfollowing any account that doesn’t bring you education, joy, or inspiration. Curate the world you want to see every day, fill it with people, brands and movements that are changing the world for better. 

2. Find your movements. Which movement inspires you to get up in the morning? Collections of good humans coming together to make change will influence you to get the best out of your day and do GOOD! Do climate change collectives do it for you? Sustainable fashion movements? Human rights? One of my personal favourites for this is Extinction Rebellion.

3. Morning free zone. This has come up a lot in press and recent studies, but it works, and for me personally has a significant effect on how each of my days will play out. Having just one hour when you wake up without going on your phone, allows you time to set yourself up for the day and to decide how you feel, before you start consuming other people’s content, views & emotions. This is a really important one for me, and works wonders.

4. Online v real life. Find some online accounts that are in your city, hosting events and activities in real life. Whether it’s coffee mornings, panelled events you can attend, or other styles of events. It’s important to engage with positive worlds you can actually get involved in.  At @StoriesBehindThings we host a plethora of London-based events all surrounding conscious consumption –  clothes switches, embroidery, upcycling, fixing workshops, themed coffee mornings and more!