Change who you follow - UEA expert’s advice to avoid social media blues
Ahead of the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday, organisations are keeping wellbeing at the front of their minds.
Earlier this week De Montfort University, in Leicester, halted all its social media content as a way to encourage students to take a 'social media detox'.
The intention of the 'social media detox' is to warn that an overuse of social media can be bad for students' wellbeing.
Dr Harry Dyer, a lecturer of education at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said: 'The social media detox could be a good thing for somebody who feels like they need to step away and talk to people face to face.
'It's a good chance to re-evaluate what you want from social media and what you use it for, but I don't think it should be forced.'
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In a poll on the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, 69pc of people said that social media had affected their wellbeing.
Dr Dyer said: 'I did some research and one of the people in the project changed the type of people they follow on Instagram to things that made her happy such as travel blogs and there was a huge positive impact on wellbeing.'
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Instead of a 'social detox', UEA have a variety of schemes based around wellbeing, including: Student Support Services which provide, wellbeing advice sessions, resilience and wellbeing workshops, talking therapies and an exercise referral scheme.
Other activities to get involved with include dog walking and cycle sessions and days out with other students.
Students have also launched a first-of-its-kind wellbeing app to help their peers understand their emotions, develop coping strategies, and access the support they need, in time for the new university term.
The app called 'OpenUpUEA' features a mood tracker to help students understand their fluctuating emotions, by noting them through nine emojis, with relevant services highlighted according to their response.
Dr Dyer's Tips
Dr Harry Dyer has put together some top tips on how to put your wellbeing first while using social media:
• Talk to other people about what you use social media for, this should help people realise that what they are doing is not abnormal or addictive.
• Make sure you follow a diverse array of accounts. Making sure you follow things that make you happy for example travel blogs, inspirational quotes or food channels.
• Think about what you want from social media. Are you using it to keep in touch with family and friends? For your job? Or maybe for help? Make sure you follow or like things that keep to your agenda.
• Socialise! Social media is a brilliant way to find people very much like yourself, whether you're a foodie, LGBTQ+ or even looking for people with or struggling with ill mental health.