By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 15:42, 04 November 2019
Do you ever feel anxious when you see a large number of unread WhatsApp messages? Do you worry about finding the time to read and reply to your countless online groups? Do you stress about how your message will be interpreted?
Mental health issues are on the rise and evidence suggests that social media is contributing to its rise. WhatsApp is probably the most popular instant messaging app in the world, with 1.5 billion users from 180 countries and one billion of those users active on the app every day. With 29 million WhatsApp messages sent every minute – are you happily adding to the noise or struggling to keep up?
Isabella Venour, Mindset & Marketing Coach says, “Social media and digital apps like WhatsApp are a modern phenomenon that has revolutionised the way we interact and communicate with others. With these new social planes come new rules of etiquette.
“Unlike a face-to-face conversation, when communicating digitally, it’s not often clear how one is expected to behave – How often to comment? Are you replying quickly enough? Have you shown enough sympathy with the right emoji? You often don’t hear someone’s tone of voice, see facial expressions or body language and this can give rise to misinterpretation.”
Create mental resilience
“In today’s social media-driven world, we are exposed to everyone’s highlight reels & increasingly subjected to the wonderful lives some people are living. We are in an era where we all want to “live the dream”; the idea of getting our head down and living a simple, clean lifestyle is becoming harder to be grateful for. As a result, our mental health needs support more than ever”
The truth is, there is vital information in helping us achieve inner peace and happiness that isn’t ever taught to us. The ThinkWell-LiveWell (www.thinkwell-livewell.com) platform includes a number of practical exercises, which show us how we can make positive changes to our mental health, as well as how to adopt lifestyle changes that will have us feeling better on the inside. Some of it really isn’t rocket science – it is accessible information that we believe should be accessible to all. If we continuously practice the exercises available on the platform and/or implement the new ways of thinking, a new life and mindset that feels both good on the inside and out can quickly become an option.”
Ben Bidwell, The Naked Professor www.thenakedprofessor.me
“We cannot allow ourselves to worry about what someone may or may not think about our actions. We can only control our own thoughts and behaviours. Equally we cannot assume we know what’s going on in that person’s life and therefore how they choose to interact online. Be confident that you’re acting with good intentions and if you want to hear more from your friends, ask them, be curious about what’s going on in their lives, pick up the phone if it’s urgent but don’t demand them to respond as quickly as you type.”
Isabella Venour, Mindset & Marketing Coach www.mind-style.com
“Stress levels are rising across the board because we operate in a society that is always switched on – a ‘snooze you lose’ culture – and this is having significant effects on our health and wellbeing. We are more connected than ever before via means of technology and yet arguably life is more fragmented and disconnected due to families being far flung across the world and the competing pressures of family life, work life and an online life. There is no ‘off button’ to work with emails pinging at all hours and personal time infringed with team WhatsApp groups. Boundaries have been blurred and it’s incredibly difficult to disentangle ourselves from busyness and to give ourselves permission to stop and replenish. With time and quality of sleep diminished, little allowance for relaxation, screen addiction, mounting financial pressures, family units spread across the world, it’s no wonder that stress levels are rising.”
Suzy Reading, Psychologist, Wellbeing & Yoga Teacher, www.suzyreading.co.uk
Mobile messaging and connecting on social media platforms can have tremendous benefits, however, they can come with burdens too: from causing unnecessary distractions and counter productivity to causing feelings of panic and anxiety.
Some ways to help reduce these burdens:
Reduce phone use where possible, call the other person, or respond in person if you know you’ll see them
Allocate time to check your phone and respond to messages, rather than checking constantly throughout the day
Look after yourself by keeping up healthy habits: exercise regularly, eat healthy meals and practice mindfulness
Talk about how you’re feeling with others. You will l
ikely find that you are not alone!
Maryam Hasan, GP at Babylon Health www.gpathand.nhs.uk
What Whatsapp user are you?
Fast & Furious
You: You instantly read and reply to messages – there is no time like the present! You love sharing ideas, asking questions… You’re the soul of the digital party.
Others: Be patient with those that communicate at a slower pace. Some people take longer to process information and like to deliberate over their answers and their lifestyles may mean they can only check the apps once in a while.
Happy go Lucky
You: Watsapp is a happy space for you to share thoughts and support loved ones. You love an emoji, take the time to reply enthusiastically and share inspirational quotes you’ve spotted throughout your day, fun fonts and exclamation marks. You are a social butterfly and help create the atmosphere in the group.
Others: If others don’t show the same level of enthusiasm, try not to be disheartened or misinterpret this as a sign that they don’t care. They may show their support in different ways, in person for example. They may instead see WhatsApp as a way of organising meet-ups and getting basic information.
You: Your WhatsApp notifications are switched off. You pop on when you remember and have time. You love the banter in groups and it’s an easy way to stay in touch with family but if there are too many messages you may only scroll back a bit to get the general gist of a conversation. Sometimes also coined ‘the silent souse’, you usually have to be personally summoned.
Others: If people misinterpret your limited interaction on the app as uncaring or rude, that’s on them. But at the same time keep in mind ways that you can show them you care. Find what works best for you and show your community attention, whether that’s in person, over the phone, a card through the post when they finally get that promotion.
You: In charge of bringing members together, you hold ultimate control and power. You are usually the glue of the group; you can delegate and help get things done.
Others: With new groups come new dynamics. You may be the admin in other circles but allow others to share the space with you.
You: You take charge when organising events or decisions and help to bring the digital party to life. Someone has to take the lead and make things happen. Without you, the online conversation would stay online.
Others: When you’re in planning mode, allocate some extra time for people to get back to you when they can fit it in. You can also give people early deadlines so they can manage their time.
You: Snapchatting, Insta-DMing, Whatsapping, and iMessaging give you a good balance of communication. Flicking through each means you can have several conversations at once, from quick snaps of your lunch to lengthier, deep and meaningful interactions.
Other: Be mindful to the fact that not everyone is as used to using varied forms of communication as you are, so if your request is urgent, try reverting back to more traditional forms of contact to encourage the reply you crave.