A good friend of mine once told me, “Anger and sadness are very righteous feelings. Sometimes they need not be pushed away for happy, easy ones.”
I know that sounds pretentious and not real, but I promise, she messaged me that at 11 pm one night, and it has stuck with me for the last few months. I want to discuss mental health and relationships with social media today because it is something that I have personally struggled with a lot during the quarantine. Mental health can fluctuate just like your physical health, except getting a cold is replaced with a panic attack. Or having a long headache could be a day where you feel down and unable to be your best self for others. These situations are entirely valid and expected during a global pandemic. To realistically work on your mental health, you have to accept the bad days and messy emotions and fully experience them before you can truly move on.
There are several things you can do to optimize your mental health that I have found extremely helpful. For one, practice healthy eating habits, and create both a sleep schedule and a hygiene routine. This plan does not have to be elaborate or take a lot of time. It is merely to maintain a balanced daily routine. Secondly, prioritize your individual needs. This can be done through getting a mental health check-up through your school or doctor, reexamining your relationships and friendships, and/or setting personal boundaries.
Another practice that has made me feel better emotionally and mentally was creating a new social media relationship. This includes setting firm boundaries with your followers and yourself. Unfollow people who make you feel like there’s something you need to change about your appearance and seek out creators who promote self-appreciation and positively reflect your interests. Also, be tactful with your time on social media. Monitor how many hours you are spending scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and remind yourself that not every post requires your attention or response. Consuming mass amounts of information, especially harmful content, can play a huge role in your perception of self and others.
It is never a sign of weakness to struggle with a mental illness. The stigma surrounding mental health has created incredibly dangerous consequences such as generational emotional suppression and an increased risk of mental health issues. We are taught to only share our best selves on social media, but it is much more important to honor our authentic selves, the versions of us who do not always have great days. To fight the stigma, we must become comfortable with vulnerability and normalize having conversations about mental health with family and trusted peers.
Women, in particular, are always being torn down publicly, both on and off social media. Whether it be for comedic purposes, through jokes or songs, degrading women in any way is not okay. As a black woman who is often treated as less than, for merely existing in my natural state, melanin, kinky hair, and all, I am exhausted. I have lost all tolerance for jokes made against women, especially women of color. We can no longer give attention to the harmful, hateful noise. Women are so beautiful in all their colors, shapes, and sizes. They are powerful and worthy, no matter where they come from or what they choose to do with their bodies.
Most importantly, women deserved to be loved, supported, and reminded of how amazing they are. They can be strong and struggle with mental health, and their experiences deserve to be shared and validated. Let’s share more empowering energy and remind ourselves how great we are. Below is the link to a playlist of songs written about self-love, growth, and the power a woman possesses all on her own.