How to Use Media to Improve Your Mental Health

If you are like me, watching too much news can wreak havoc on your mood. I begin to think our world is nothing but an evil, horrible, negative, cesspool of a place to live. I lose hope in humanity quickly as I hear story after story of war, murder, robbery, rape, kidnapping, and abuse. I become cynical, despondent, and downright depressed. Therefore, I limit my exposure to the news.

I noticed that my local news stations post the more horrific stories on their Facebook news feed than they broadcast on television, so I stopped following their pages. This has helped my mental health tremendously since I check in on Facebook multiple times throughout the day versus watching a televised newscast only once per day.

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5 Types of Media That Have a Positive Affect on My Mental Health

1.  Blogs that offer hope

I enjoy reading mental health blogs written by those who have struggled or are struggling, and are trying to get better. It is uplifting to read stories of perseverance, effort, compassion, and faith.

There are many bloggers out there who write only of their destructive ways; who are stuck in their illnesses and show no signs or interest in wanting to get better. They do not seem to have the insight or awareness into the things that they can change, and that is ok. They aren’t there yet, and I am not judging them for that. However, their negativity and anger is something I have to steer clear of for my own mental well-being, just as I have to with people in real life as well.

2.  Google Images

Sometimes when I am feeling down or just bored I will search positive keywords on Google and browse through the images that come up. I often add the word “quotes” to my keyword and then many photos of positive affirmations and sayings appear. For example, this one is from searching the words “friendship quotes”:

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And of course, you can find just regular photos of anything you can think of that makes you happy, including all the puppy and kitten pictures you could want!

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3.  Pinterest

I use Pinterest because it is a great way to save all of those images you find. That way you can come back to them again and again to boost your spirits whenever you need to. Plus, on Pinterest you have the advantage of having a million other people’s search results at your finger tips on the same topic you are interested in.

4.  YouTube Music and Photo Videos

Listening to your favorite music on any media device can help improve your mood.  You can find many songs on YouTube as well.  What I like to use YouTube for is to find non-mainstream type music that helps my mood, such as relaxation or meditative music.  Music that I wouldn’t necessarily buy, but that I might want to listen to every once in a while to help calm my nerves on a particularly stressful day.

I also like searching for photo-music slide shows.  They can be very soothing.  If you would enjoy photos of wooded areas, this one is nice.

5.  Twitter

If you search the hashtag “#affirmation” on Twitter, you can read all kinds of positive messages that will help lift your mood.  I know it helps me stay in a good frame of mind.

Do you know of any other ways to use media to improve your mental health?  Please share them in the comments below.

Facebook and Its Negative Effect on Mental Health

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I gave up my personal Facebook activities last week. Note: You can still find me on Write into the Light’s Facebook Page, but, I have pushed my personal profile account to the side. Deleted the app from my phone. Haven’t checked status updates in five days which means…

I have no clue whose kid just made the honor roll, who is having a bad day at work, what everyone is having for dinner tonight, or how everyone’s nieces and nephews are doing in sports. I haven’t seen one photo-quote, inspirational or humorous. Not one recipe or emoticon from friends of friends whom I would probably not even recognize if I ran into them at the grocery store.

Top 3 Reasons to Give Up Facebook

1. The People in My House are More Important to Me than Those I Hardly Ever See

It is hard enough to filter through the minute details of my own life, let alone those of acquaintances. And that is what the majority of those on my friends list are: acquaintances. Knowing of their daily happenings makes no difference in the quality of my life. On the contrary, it wastes time and energy that would be better spent on the people with whom I actually live and on my own mental health.

2. I am a Highly Sensitive Person

Since I am a highly sensitive person who picks up on and internalizes the emotions of other people, I was finding myself being negatively effected by the sad events being shared on Facebook, from political cries to save the abused animals posts to the depressing events in people’s personal lives.

I am not saying that I don’t want to hear about the death of a dear friend’s father or the house fire of another. What I am saying is that I would rather hear about it through a phone call than on Facebook. As far as the political and social movement stuff – I don’t watch the news so as to avoid those things, so I definitely don’t want to see them in my Facebook feed.

And if you are that old friend from high school whom I haven’t seen in twenty years who has lost your job or been in an accident or gotten a divorce…I feel bad for you, but if it wasn’t for Facebook I wouldn’t even know what you look like now, let alone about the happenings in your life. No offense.

3. My Mental Health is More Important than Knowing Things About People I Haven’t Spoke to in Decades

My decision to cut Facebook out of my life came shortly after a high school classmate committed suicide, which triggered many negative emotions in me due to losing a very close friend to suicide two years ago.

After hearing about my classmate on Facebook, I grieved for a week, barely able to get out of bed some days. Grieved not really for my old classmate since I haven’t seen him in 15 years, but for my close friend all over again. It was very difficult to go through, and it could have spiraled my depression out of control.

(Thankfully, I did some mindfulness practice, talked to several people about my feelings, prayed, and wrote about it here, knowing that as long as I didn’t ignore or cover up my feelings, they would eventually pass and I’d feel better. And they did.)

However, I realized that if it wasn’t for Facebook, I never would have heard about my classmate’s suicide, and therefore, would have avoided a week of suffering because of it. No one called me, no one even directly told me about his suicide. I merely happened upon it by accident…on Facebook.

So, no more Facebook for me. How does Facebook affect your mental health? Have you ever even thought about its effects on you?