Weekly Wellbeing Challenge: Week Six

The challenge for this week was… phone detox!

Here are my thoughts on how it went for me!

[and don’t forget, it’s not too late to sign up if you haven’t already!]

This week, I tried to detox from my phone. Although I didn’t turn my phone off for long periods of time, I simply put it on airplane mode when I wasn’t using it. This meant that I was creating an obstacle to just picking it up and scrolling mindlessly – the more difficult you make it to use your phone, the less likely you are to use it.

Other methods that work: leaving your phone across the other side of the room, or in a different room, or simple putting it out of your eye line. Some people go as far as deleting apps off of their phone, so they have to go on their laptop to access them, or re-download them. I haven’t tried this, but I imagine it’s very successful!

According to the iPhone’s tracking of how much time I’m using a screen, my average has gone down almost 50% this week than last week, which I’m really happy about! I’ve also found that not using my phone when I’m working on an essay or writing a blog post makes me a lot more focused, and it encourages me to stretch and take deep breaths when I need a break, rather than scroll social media – a much better habit!

Overall, I would definitely recommend the airplane mode method for phone detoxes. It means you can still use your phone throughout the day, but less often and with more meaning. It’s only when you detox that you realise how little you actually need to go on social media, even to run it successfully.

Dear Evan Hansen [Theatre Review]

A week ago I went to see Dear Evan Hansen at the theatre and it was my favourite theatre show I’ve ever seen!

I first became interested in Dear Evan Hansen when I heard someone singing a song from it on Britain’s Got Talent last year. I really connected with the song and it’s lyrics, so wondered who it was by. When I found out it was from an upcoming theatre show I knew I had to see it!

Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of a high school boy with social anxiety. One of his peers at school commits suicide and Evan finds himself lying that they were best friends. The plot follows the fabrication of this lie and the consequences that follow.

The show surprisingly had a simple set, but it didn’t need to be elaborate to make a point. There were various screens dotted about the stage with projections of social media feeds and messages; it was very effective in the way that it made me feel part of the scrolling and the masses of information that come flooding at you when using a phone. I thought the acting was brilliant – it was very personal and intimate, in that most of the scenes were family and friends conversing, and I think they did a great job of making it feel real.

I thought the show was written with so much heart and understanding. I like that it touched on important topics: loneliness, anxiety, drugs, and suicide. It was difficult to watch at times, but it was nice to see something so eye-opening and honest. I think in a world of social media, where we should feel more connected, we actually feel more lonely than ever, and so Dear Evan Hansen has come at the perfect time – to remind us that people care even when we feel like they don’t, and that none of us are ever really alone, even when we feel like we are.

This show hit particularly deep for me because I used to really struggle with social anxiety. I used to feel like I was invisible and that every time I tried to speak up anxiety would cause my hands to sweat, voice to shake, just like Evan’s. I felt alone because I couldn’t share my voice in the way I wanted to. It felt like being stuck behind a window, tapping on the glass (exactly like in the song on the show). And that’s partly why I created this blog in the first place. I’m glad to say that I’ve worked hard to overcome this and I’m in a much better place now, but in my heart I still remember what it feels like to be that person. It amazes me how well they’ve put this feeling on stage, and I think if I’d watched it at my lowest, it would have reminded me that people really do care. I hope it helps a lot of people out there.

 

Have you seen Dear Evan Hansen? What did you think?

 

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You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Update on my Holiday & Social Media Detox

As a few of you may have noticed, I disappeared for the last week. That’s because I went on holiday to Cyprus! I’ve never been there before so I was very excited about going! It’s the first relaxing holiday I’ve had. Normally, I opt for active holidays where I’m sightseeing and doing a lot of walking and exploring, but this time my Mum and I decided to have a chill holiday.

Most of the holiday consisted of sunbathing, swimming, reading and eating a ton of food (it was all inclusive so I had to make the most of it!). I finished two books – Normal People by Sally Rooney and This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay – both of which I will write book reviews of when I get round to it! I also properly tanned for the first time in my life so for once I’m no longer pale (or “insipid” as my Mum likes to joke).

I think going on holidays is a lot of fun but they’re also really beneficial for your well being if you go about them in a certain way. I decided that I would have a phone/social media detox for my time away to ensure I had the most relaxation I could, and honestly I’m so glad I did! Apart from the quick check of the phone in the morning or evening (to remind people that I am still alive), I left my phone locked away in my room and focused primarily on living in the moment. Which is why you haven’t seen any blog or social media posts from me recently.

I think it’s easy, especially in the modern world, to be stressed without even realising you’re stressed. We naturally want to be efficient and multi-task and do everything that we possibly can, but this takes a huge toll on us. It was only by removing myself from my phone and then returning to real life once I got home, that I realised how much my phone was causing me minor stress. Sometimes you just need to break away and return to fully realise how much something impacts you. 

In a week’s time, I will be starting university again and I’m determined to change up my lifestyle and minimise my stress level as much as possible. I’ll be explaining this in a future post, as well as sharing my goals for the rest of 2019 and 2020.

I really feel like a lot has changed in my life over the past few months and this holiday has really created a divider between my old lifestyle and the lifestyle I wish to carry through now to the future. I’m excited to start a fresh chapter! I hope you’ll tag along with me.

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

How False is your Facebook Profile?

If I was told to imagine myself on a page, I would not imagine my Facebook profile. I would not imagine specifically chosen photos and an endless list of ‘friends’. I wouldn’t imagine birthday messages from fake people or tagged posts of empty happiness. I wouldn’t imagine any of that because, in reality, it doesn’t sum up me.

I find it so weird when I look at my Facebook profile. I want to say it is me but it isn’t, not really. I’ve chosen photos I genuinely love to feature on my page, and yet it still doesn’t feel real. That’s because everything on Facebook is shared due to a chosen decision. The user decides to share it and that’s why it pops up on our newsfeed. It makes sense that we want to share the happy moments. We want to remember the good times so we can look back on it and smile. But, ironically, we look at others and frown.

Social media is something I have a love-hate relationship with. There are days when I have to switch it off. There are days when I can feel the lives of other’s creeping into my head and those are the days I have to stop myself from endlessly scrolling. You’d think my profile is a more confident version of me – I think for a lot of people it is. But a lot of the time I feel like it is a weak version of me. It is the type of me who isn’t completely myself. It is the type of me who is aware of all these people and feels scared to confront them all at the same time. Equally, I feel like I don’t owe it to them. Most of my friends on Facebook I’m not that close with, so why should they see the real me? How would I even go about presenting the real me on Facebook without posting all the time? And if I did post all the time, wouldn’t that just be an act of justification, as if I have to prove to others that this is how I am? It’s all just an elaborate game and there’s no way to win.

Social media would be a lot different if we shared our lows. It would actually be a real portrayal of life. However, imagine scrolling through your newsfeed to look at a bunch of crying faces or depressed statuses. Wouldn’t that make us just as sad, if not more sad, than seeing other’s happy when we ourselves are depressed? It seems there’s no way to avoid negativity when it comes to social media. We are either saddened by other people’s tragedies, or we are saddened by the fact that we can’t be as happy as others.

I’m really glad I started blogging because, although WordPress is a community similar to social media, it is a place where I share the real me – both the highs and lows. It is a place where I don’t feel afraid to say that I’m feeling down. It is a place where if I see another blogger’s post and it saddens me, I don’t scroll but I actively involve myself in trying to help. It’s the kind of interaction that you just don’t get on Facebook – at least, not with those you’re not close to. On WordPress, it’s as if everyone is a friend – a real friend – whether you know them or not. And that’s what I love about it. It’s the kind of social media we never had.

If you’re reading this post and you think your Facebook profile does sum up you, look again. Look harder. Because an online profile can never live up to your life as a person, as much as you try. It can never replicate the pure joy of laughing until you cry; endless conversations into early hours of the morning; silent car journeys that are more meaningful than talk. It can never replicate the most important parts of being human. It can never replicate the unique personality that is you.

My Favourite Mental Health Books

Today is World Book Day, but it is also University Mental Health Day. Since I am a huge lover of reading and have struggled a lot with my mental health whilst at university, this day is really important to me. Therefore, what better to do than list some of my favourite mental health books?

1. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig Image result for reasons to stay alive

I know what you’re thinking, I’m talking about Matt Haig again, but his books have been really helpful to me over the past couple of years. He gives an account of his struggle with mental health with no filter and that’s what I love about it. He doesn’t make it seem cool or sugarcoat it – it is his raw feelings in book form and I really admire that. For people who struggle with anxiety and/or depression, this may be really useful to you. Read my book review here.

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2. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

If you thought I’d just stop at one of Matt Haig’s books, you’d be very wrong. Whilst this one also tackles mental health, it is vaster in its approach to technology and social media. These are things that have become second nature to us and Haig discusses how this affects our minds. I think anyone who finds themselves even mildly attached to the internet can relate to this book. Read my book review here.

3. How to Survive the End of the World by Aaron GilliesImage result for how to survive the end of the world

Technically I haven’t actually finished this book yet, but I’m in the process of reading it, so that counts, right? This book focuses on topics similar to Matt Haig, but has more of a focus on anxiety. I really like the humour that Gillies brings to this book and the informal way it is written. It is split into categories, such as “My anxious brain vs the morning” and “My anxious brain vs socialising” which makes it really easy to pick out the parts as and when you need them. This one doesn’t have a book review yet (sorry).

4. Your journal

So I got to number four and realised that I haven’t actually read as many mental health books as I thought. Go me. However, having your own notebook and jotting down your thoughts is just as much a mental health book as any. It’s a way to release tension, to rationalise your thoughts, and you don’t even have to read it. Sometimes writing out your inner thoughts can be scary because you don’t know what’s lurking there, but it is unbelievably rewarding. Trust me.

 

I really hope this list was somewhat helpful, despite my slight downfall at the end with my lack of ideas. Today is a day about sharing books and caring for others, and I think that’s the perfect day.

‘Nothing to Hide’ [Film Review]

Yesterday, when browsing Netflix, I came across ‘Nothing to Hide’, a French film which involves a group of friends meeting up for dinner and playing a game with their phones. They are to put their phones in the centre of the table and every time they receive a text or a phone call, they have to read it aloud. As you would have guessed, drama prevails.

I watched this film simply because the concept sounded cool. Not going to lie, it is annoying because it’s got English voice-over so the words aren’t in time with the movement of the lips (since they are really speaking French), but if you don’t focus on it, then it’s not so bad.Image result for nothing to hide film phones

I don’t want to give away much that happens, so I won’t mention anything specific to the characters and the plot. However, I did find the focus on phones and privacy really interesting. In the modern age, a lot of information about our lives is stored within our phones and social media (in fact, almost all of it is). So much so that handing over your phone to someone is like handing over your soul. It is interesting to think about the lengths you would go to hide the contents of your phone from someone else – whether that is for the reason of not wanting to reveal something about yourself, or simply because you don’t want someone to damage it. Even the prospect of someone damaging your phone shows much much you rely on it – you can’t imagine not living without it and therefore damaging it is like injuring your arm; for a while you are helpless, incapable even.

Whilst watching the film, I thought about whether I would partake in a game like this. Part of me would find it really interesting – to find out about other’s lives but also to bring awareness to what I actually use my phone for and who I speak to. This awareness would perhaps be interesting in distancing myself from phone addiction. But would someone knowing about my personal life and asking questions about it cause me anxiety? Of course it would.

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So whilst I recommend this film, I also ask you to think about the concept of it. Would you play this game? And if you did, would you feel comfortable?

Should we reveal everything about our lives to those closest to us, or is this a recipe for disaster?

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

How much time do you spend on your phone?

Just over a week ago I updated my iPhone to the latest ios. If you’ve done the same, you may have noticed the “screen time” in settings. And it’s safe to say that once you’ve found it, it’s hard to go back.

This is my screen time for this week. As you can see, some days have gone better than others, but the aim is to lower the average!

On “screen time” it tells you how long you’ve spent on your phone a day. It is separated into categories (social media, productivity, creativity, etc.) and also individual apps (messenger, instagram, camera, etc.). It adds up the amount of time you’ve used your phone for over the course of the week, giving you an average, whilst simultaneously making you feel worse about the fact that you’ve spent more time on your phone than actually working. As a result, I felt like I needed to do something.

It may have been a coincidence, but around the time “screen time” was introduced, I was in the middle of reading ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’ by Matt Haig (book review coming), which is centred around the power of social media and how using our phone affects our everyday life to the point that we simply can’t live without them. I also watched a couple of videos on YouTube about people quitting social media too.

You may think I’m about to claim I’ve quit social media too and haven’t used my phone since, but I haven’t gone quite that far. Instead, I thought about how using my phone affects my life and how it mostly prevents me from focusing on my uni work. I often reach for my phone when I’m meant to be working out of boredom, when really that only prolongs the amount of time I’m studying because it takes me longer to complete it. Solution? Study timetable.

Here you can see the length of time I’ve spent on each app this week.

So on Monday I sat down and put together a timetable of when I have lectures and seminars, when I have societies/clubs, and then filled in the gaps with study sessions (to a reasonable extent). I decided that during these sessions I would leave my phone at least two metres away from me (so I’d be too lazy to get up to check it) and would only allow myself to look at it briefly if I got up for a toilet break (but to reply to no messages unless they’re urgent). 

Surprisingly, it started a lot better than I thought. I wasn’t reaching towards my phone as much already (perhaps because I’d begun it with a very positive and motivated mindset) and I felt really happy that I was getting things done. Of course, I instantly became a lot more tired because of this. I was focusing a lot more and sometimes over-working to an extent, which meant by the end of the afternoon I was already ready for bed. 

By Friday, in all honesty, I had started to slack. However, I don’t even feel bad about it; I got a lot of work done this week and I actually feel on top of it for once. Also, it’s important to have breaks too. 

I think the study timetable helped a lot to cut down on my phone use. There were some days where it was still pretty high, but actually it was more down to productivity apps than social media so I think that’s okay. At this moment in time, I feel like I use social media for what’s important – to keep in contact with my friends and family back at home and to keep up with uni updates for societies/clubs. There are times when I mindlessly scroll but I’m definitely getting better and stopping myself before it gets too much. 

How much time do you spend on your phone? Do you use social media more than you should? 

I can’t believe I’ve only just found the TV Time app?!

A few days I was introduced to the app TV Time and I actually can’t believe I’ve only just found it. As many of you know, I am a massive fan of films but also TV Shows. I’ve probably watched waaay too many over the years but it’s one of my favourite ways to escape the world into someone else’s life for a change.

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It probably seems like this is a sponsored post but it actually isn’t – I just genuinely love this app and wanted to share it with you all! Mostly because it’s such a good way to track all the TV shows you’ve seen, and where you are up to on the ones you most recently watch. You can also find out when new seasons are being released and on what channel/streaming platform. Through this, I managed to find out that Cuckoo is still an ongoing show?? (did not know this at all), that there’s been a new season of Casual on Amazon Prime for ages (how did I not notice??), and new seasons for lots of Netflix shows!

It’s pretty cool that you can also do quizzes, comment on recent episodes, and follow, chat and connect with other people that are interested in the same shows as you! After I’d spent ages trying to remember every show I’ve ever watched and putting it into the app, it told me that altogether I’ve spent 1 months, 23 days and 10 hours watching TV shows. Actually insane. But could be worse I guess.

So for those of you really into TV shows, this might be your kind of thing! And if it is, let me know your name and I’ll be sure to follow you! Or you can find me at alice134. It would be cool to talk to some of you!

Should Parents Tell Their Children That They’re Beautiful?

Today I came across a video on my recommendations titled “I Will Never Tell My Daughter That She’s Beautiful” and it just really inspired me to write this post, particularly because we live in a time currently where there is so much attention on beauty and it’s not necessarily a good thing.

On first glance, the title might suggest Clare O’Reilly is a cruel parent for not complimenting her daughter but it’s not that she doesn’t think her daughter is beautiful, but that she should be praised for things that matter more. She argues that appearance is a genetic lottery and I think that this is such a good way of describing it because after all, why should we be praised on our looks when we put no effort into creating them? We didn’t decide to look a certain way or be a certain shape. That would be like telling someone they’re really smart for winning the lottery, when all they did is buy the ticket. Doesn’t this make it sound a lot more ludicrous?

The presenters of the show naturally took a defensive standpoint to counter O’Reilly’s opinions arguing that if her daughter is never called beautiful, won’t she wake up one day in the future and feel sad for not ever being complimented on this? The first thought that came to mind when I heard this was that even those who are called beautiful by their parents, do they even believe it? I feel like a lot of people grow up with their parents commenting on how they look but once you reach a certain age you realise that it’s just part of parenthood and it becomes meaningless to you anyway. If you asked teenagers whether they thought their parents were lying to them when they told them they were beautiful I reckon a lot would say yes. So isn’t it better to wake up one day not feeling as though you’d been lied to, but that you were given the truth on other qualities?

I think that O’Reilly is making such a powerful stand but I’m afraid that, despite her efforts, focus on appearance can’t be altered, not in a society where it is so prevalent. It’s actually saddening to think that looks have become so important because I completely agree with O’Reilly that bringing up children that love themselves for their personality is what really matters. One particular quote that I loved was this:

“[we should capture]..how we spend our time not how we look when we spend our time.”

This made me think twice about when we take photos to capture experience. I’m sure everyone is guilty, including me, of manipulating photos to make them look better or to further enhance the situation, but when you really think about it, why should it matter? The experience itself is so much more important than how we look when we’re experiencing it. Social media has subverted this as we thrive to share our whole lives with other people. Their opinions matter and so we feel like we have to justify our experiences by making ourselves look the best we possibly can. Why do we have to cover over the cracks? At this point it feels like we’re all pretending imperfections don’t exist when we’re all aware that imperfections do, as we have them ourselves.

I wanted to share these ideas because I love that O’Reilly is so aware of how social media and beauty standards change children and because I think that it’s something that all parents should be aware of, especially because of increasing statistics in mental health.

If you want to watch the video, which I highly recommend, you can see it here:

 

If you were to raise a child, would you consider doing this too?