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Mindful Scrolling: Prioritising Mental Wellness in the Digital Age


17th May 2024

Whilst we’re all aware by now of the impacts of social media, technology and its presence in everyday life, this article reflects on the balance that can be obtained if we pause and monitor our usage. Equally, it’s important to admit how difficult “avoiding” technology is, especially when maintaining work and home boundaries. In solidarity with Mental Health Awareness Week, it’s helpful to see both the light and shade and remind ourselves that we do ultimately have control over the risk technology may pose to our mental health.

The use of social media and digital technology, whether in professional or personal contexts, has unsurprisingly gained large amounts of research interest, especially as it relates to mental wellbeing. From late-night screen time disrupting our sleep patterns to overstimulation from the various apps on our phones, we’re becoming increasingly conscious of how online usage affects our lifestyle.

Mental Health Awareness Week reminds us all how crucial it is to recognise the impacts a technology-reliant world can have on our mental health. In doing so, it enables us to set healthier boundaries for ourselves while benefitting from online activity in our lives.

The Impact

The recent PRCA audit on Mental Wellbeing has highlighted that 91% of people within the industry reported poor mental health at some point in the last 12 months, prompted primarily by stress and an ‘always-on’ work mentality PRCA, 2024.

While social media undoubtedly offers valuable opportunities for the communications industry, such as networking and valuable market insights, its constant presence can take a toll on our mental states. From the pressure to stay informed on the latest media trends to the incessant notifications that demand our attention, the impacts of social media on our mental health can be profound.

One of the most concerning aspects of social media’s impact on mental health is the difficulty many of us face in disconnecting from it. With smartphones constantly within reach, the temptation to check notifications or scroll through feeds can feel frustrating. Research has shown that this inability to switch off can lead to heightened stress levels and disrupted sleep patterns as we find ourselves caught in a cycle of constant digital stimulation. The pressures to remain constantly connected for work-related purposes further exacerbates this issue, blurring the boundaries between work and personal life and leaving us feeling perpetually ‘on call’.

As a result, many people struggle to find moments of genuine rest and relaxation, which is integral for maintaining overall well-being. Addressing this challenge requires us to not only set personal boundaries around social media use but also foster a cultural shift that prioritises unplugging and recharging in order to protect our mental health in an online world.

Establish Boundaries

But as we know, it’s not so simple to limit time spent online, especially when your professional life directly relies on it. In February of this year, 37.6% of all social media users claimed to use social media for work purposes, and in the UK, this number sits at 26.8% Backlinko, 2024. For these people, it is especially important to monitor usage outside of the office to maintain a balance. This might be achieved by:

• Scheduling device free zones or time periods: This can be done manually or through built-in screen-time features and third-party apps.
• Managing notifications to limit distractions: By adjusting your notification settings, you can personalise alerts for only essential communications.
• Decluttering your feed: By unfollowing accounts that post content which evokes feelings of comparison or negativity, you can make your feed a calmer space.

Consume Actively

By consuming it mindfully, social media can become a practical tool rather than something we rely on for gratification or to fill a moment of boredom. By switching passive consumption to active engagement, you might find new intentionality in your online behaviour, replacing mindless scrolling with interactive community-based interaction.

“Online communities can provide a space for discussions regarding health conditions, adverse life events, or everyday challenges, which may decrease the sense of stigmatization and increase belongingness and perceived emotional support.” BMC Psychology

Digital communities have seen a rise in recent years, harbouring resilience, collaboration, and a sense of belonging in an overstimulated online world. This new dynamic is predicted to continue to grow, with approximately 76% of internet users currently participating in some form of online community Backlinko, 2024. Using platforms to connect with specific interests, newsfeeds, or industry experts creates a place where users feel seen, thus having a more positive impact on our mental wellbeing.

Ultimately, the one action we can all take to contribute to this week’s Mental Health Awareness is to be aware of the risks that come with our reliance on technology. While some may choose to step back and detox, it is more than okay to use our screens, when paired with the right mindset and balance. Remember to check in with yourself and people around you, not just this week, but going forward.

If you’d like to know how Houston can help you, get in touch with our team