Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Antidote to the Emotional Toll of Social Media

In June, I shared my best time-saving hack with you: {Use Your Phone as a Phone}.  One of the things I looked at in preparation for writing that post was the effects that social media have on us.  When I googled it, all sorts of things came up about mental health dangers (in many forms) and how social media is disconnectingIsn't that the ultimate irony--something created to connect people actually has the opposite result?  As it turns out, social media takes quite a toll on us!

In reading articles about what social media does to us (two of which I'll share with you shortly), it occurred to me that I actually know the antidote to all these harmful effects!  So I am beyond thrilled to share them with you today.  We need an antidote to the emotional toll of social media.


SOCIAL MEDIA PROBLEMS

I'll cite sources, but you will probably recognize the problems caused or exacerbated by social media use without needing sources, whether you recognize them in yourself or someone else.  They are, unfortunately, quite common.

The Independent published {this article} citing six ways social media negatively affects your mental health, which are:
  1. lowered self-esteem (which comes from comparing yourself to others)
  2. decreased human connection (including FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out, as well as fewer face-to-face interactions)
  3. disturbance of memory (spending so much time making sure you're posting the best photos that your memory of actual events is neglected and then forgotten)
  4. lack of sleep (using an electronic device too close to bedtime makes it harder to fall asleep; endless scrolling capability makes it harder to put the device down in the first place)
  5. decreased attention span (both from decrease in concentration and increase in addiction to social media)
  6. increased depression and anxiety (41% of people in a March 2018 poll said viewing social media made them feel anxious, sad, or depressed.)
"The Emotional Toll of Social Media" at beliefnet.com adds a few more dangers of social media to our list:
  • having more "Facebook friends" than real friends (real=people to whom you'd send a wedding invitation or Christmas card)
  • feeling a sense of inadequacy (seeing only cookie cutter ideals and false standards)
  • cyber bullying (most common with children but not unheard of with adults)
  • feelings of isolation (easy to feel like you've "connected" with others when it's actually just one-way)
  • being socially stunted (with too much "virtual" interaction and not enough eye contact and hand-shaking)
  • stress (all of the above)

Many Millennials and Gen X-ers who are literally "connected" to thousands of people online suffer from loneliness.  At {a conference on loneliness among young adults} presented by University of Delaware professor Dawn Fallik and Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad in March, so many young people registered that they had to add another session.  Imagine a whole room full of lonely youth, complete with the irony.  Twice.

A SOLUTION and THE ANTIDOTE

Of course, one of the biggest solutions to the emotional toll of social media is to cut down on social media use.  You may remember some of my suggestions for how to do this in the "Use Your Phone as a Phone" article I referenced in the first paragraph of this post.  I share my experience there plus seven fantastic suggestions from Michele Tripple.  If you pick up your phone or login to Facebook more often than you should for good mental health, definitely check out that article.  (Link in the first paragraph of this post.)

The antidote, though, is something else.  An antidote combats a poison.  It counteracts or prevents a disease or other unwanted effect.  So if you've been depressed or stressed or felt inadequate because of social media, here's the fix to that!

It's something you may or may not have heard of:  Memory-Keeping.  If you click on the tab in purple at the top of this blog (under the header) that says {"benefits of memory-keeping,"} you'll find links to several articles, but here's a summary of what memory-keeping has been shown in studies to do:
  • reduce stress
  • lower rates of anxiety and depression
  • increase a sense of belonging and purpose
  • increase connections (to family members, friends, and life in general)
  • increase happiness (even more than chocolate and wine, the most common "go-to"s for boosting mood)
  • increase self-esteem
  • increase gratitude
It's true!  Memory-keeping can do all that.  


WHAT EXACTLY IS MEMORY-KEEPING?

If you missed my article last November, {"What is Memory-Keeping? And Why Does it Matter?"}, you can hop over there for the details.  In short, though, memory-keeping is doing something with your photos and memories.  Sometimes people throw around the word "scrapbooking," but memory-keeping isn't exactly that.  It certainly can be, but doesn't have to be.

Both photos and journaling are how we record our life's experiences.  All too often, though, we don't make the time to go through photos and do something with them.  Photos are most often left in what I call JPEG Jail.  They stay on cameras or phones or computers, never to be seen again.  The process of choosing favorite photos and giving them a HOME (a tangible place for them to live, such as a book or album) and writing down our memories is Memory-Keeping.  It's organizing and giving meaning to our life's experiences.  It's reminiscing about good times and appreciating that we made it through the bad ones.  

I often hear people say they don't have time for memory-keeping.  It's unfortunate that we make time for social media and its potentially damaging effects while the antidote to those effects is right at our fingertips.  Ironically, we would all have more time for memory-keeping if we allowed less time for social media.  

Re-visit that list of the benefits of memory-keeping in those bullet points above.  Those things are not just things we want.  They are things we need.  We need less stress.  We need more connections with loved ones and more happiness.  


HOW TO BE A MEMORY-KEEPER

If you're ready to combat the depressive effects of social media, it's time to make time for memory-keeping.  Here are five steps to begin a memory-keeping habit:
  1. Set aside time.  We never "find time"--we make it.  You probably set aside time for other self-care such as haircuts and exercise and time with friends.  Setting aside time for memory-keeping isn't any different.  Choose a time that works for you, then put it on your calendar and keep your commitment to yourself.  It could be every Friday night or the first Sunday of every month.  I have a lot of resources and ideas for creating time for yourself at the {"don't have time?"} link in purple at the top of this blog if you need it.  If doing this with another person would help you, team up with someone else who needs the positive effects of being a memory-keeper, too!
  2. Go through your photos regularly.  Delete garbage photos (pictures of your finger or 12 pictures of the same thing) immediately!  Get your photos off your phone or camera regularly, too.  Set aside specific time for it if you have to.  Saving photos from your phone/camera to your computer is smart photo storage since you'll then have your photos in more than one place, but it also puts the photos in a place where you can actually do something with them.  From your computer, you can print them or create {a digital book or scrap pages} with them.  If you don't know {how to get your pictures from your phone to your computer, this short video} shows you how. 
  3. Organize your photos.  With the hoards of photos people often have, this can be a daunting prospect, but don't let it!!  This can be a really fun part of memory-keeping!  Seeing your photos and reminiscing has been shown in studies to increase your happiness!  Because memory-keeping involves doing something with your pictures, not just seeing them, though, organizing is an important step.  You have to know what you have and where those pictures are before you can do anything with them.  If you have digital photos to organize, you can see my method (and copy it!) if you like here at this {"organizing photos demo" video}.  If you have printed or physical photos to organize, find strategies at {"How to Organize Both Printed and Digital Photos."Please don't feel like you have to keep or preserve every photo you take.  Generally speaking, we just have too many for that nowadays.  Preserve just your favorites.  
  4. Choose your weapon.  There are lots and lots of ways to preserve your photos and record your memories.  It's important that it fit your style, interest, and budget, but it's equally as important (maybe a tad more!) that the memory-keeping method you choose be high-quality!  You don't want something this important to fall apart a few years from now.  I only recommend high-quality methods, and you can see {my top memory-keeping recommendations} right there at that link. Remember that you're not just finding a tangible home for your photos!  As important as that is, writing down your memories and experiences is vital.  You need a method that will support all the journaling you want to do.
  5. Start!  If you haven't been a memory-keeper before, just start.  Start with something small like looking through your photos and deleting some you don't need.  Or start by looking through memory-keeping methods you might like to use.  Don't get overwhelmed.  Do something small and enjoyable first and then your excitement will propel you from there.  And speaking of starting small, I suggest that you begin your memory-keeping with whatever is easiest.  Do you want to preserve the photos you have on your phone right now and do a {yearbook} from last year?  Do you want to write a {life story for yourself}, starting with baby pictures?   Or do you want to start with an event--the wedding, the graduation, etc?  Start with whatever sounds easiest!

IT'S REALLY THAT POWERFUL

I know that using something you already have--your own photos and memories--seems like a pretty simple way to truly combat serious problems such as depression and loneliness.  While not a replacement for medication if it's needed, memory-keeping is a much more powerful thing than we give it credit for.  It's {good for kids} and equally good for the big kids we call adults.  

While social media use can contribute to feelings of sadness and isolation, memory-keeping engenders connection--connection with family and friends, connection to your purpose and value, and connection to your own heart.  In his compelling Ted Talk, {"Everything You Know About Addiction is Wrong,"} Johann Hari even says that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety.  It's connection.  

So what are we waiting for?

I suggest you {get started right here}.
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Thursday, July 4, 2019

"Conversations with the Inspiring Jennifer Wise" from VoyageDenver

If you've read this blog much over the last 9 1/2 years, you've found hundreds of articles about photos, memories, family and personal stories, memory-keeping, photo organization, digital scrapbooking, time management, crafty DIY projects, and meaningful (and totally fun!) gift ideas.

What you haven't read a lot about is me.  My personal experiences and my own Heritage Makers projects are often scattered throughout, but there are very few posts about me, Jennifer Wise, the face (and heart and soul) behind LifeTales Books.  Why do I write this blog?  Why am I so crazy passionate about something as commonplace as pictures?  What brought me to this point?  And why?


I'm honored and thrilled to be featured in VoyageDenver Magazine in their Trailblazer: Rewriting the Narrative series where they "interview hidden gems from Denver and the surrounding areas."  In this interview, I talk about my business and my story, my path in entrepreneurship, what sets me (and Heritage Makers) apart from the rest, and my thoughts on female leadership in business today.

The interviewer chose the title:  "Conversations with the Inspiring Jennifer Wise."  So you can take that to mean that you'll come away inspired after reading my Trailblazer article!   And you can do that right here:


If you enjoyed the read, let me know about it by commenting below!  And share it with someone you know who would enjoy it, too!  Pin, Tweet, email, or share on Facebook.