Community//

WhatsApp-ening? Digital etiquette versus mental health

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.”

Don’t mindread

“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.”

Switch Off

“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.”

Doctors Orders

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 practise mindfulness
  • Talk about how you’re feeling with others. You will likely find that you are not alone!

Source: WhatsApp Revenue and Usage Statistics (2019) https://www.businessofapps.com/data/whatsapp-statistics/

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