Are you a Smartphone Zombie?

Few days back i saw a question on a site asking “I want to put my phone aside and study, but i’m not able to do it? Is there any I can get rid of it?”

Well we can say that we all faced this phase where we get too much addicted to Mobile phone and couldn’t keep it aside and focus on other works. A research recently released the details of a study which told us where in the world was the biggest Smartphone penetration:-

  1. South Korea
  2. Australia
  3. Israel
  4. U.S
  5. Spain
  6. U.K

But this doesn’t mean that people in this countries are using mobile phones all the time. Based on a 2016 study led by Statistica, it does look like people in those countries might fall into the category of smartphone zombies. The study also said that

  • Brazilian spend the most hours on average connected to a smartphone as 4 hr 48 mins per day.
  • Chinese spend the most hours on average 3 hours 3 mins
  • Followed by U.S 2 hours 37 mins
  • Italy 2 hours 34 mins
  • Spain 2 hours 11 mins
  • South Korea 2 hours 10 mins

One thing range true for all countries in the study, and that was the fact time spent on a smartphone for the average person was up quite a lot from 2012 to 2016.

It’s not totally people’s fault that we are addicted to the smartphones. We have this exciting thing in our pocket that flashes, beeps and invites us to use it. NPR in 2018 talked about this manipulative object we carry around with us, that is just so irresistible. The story mentions Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov, and what we know as Pavlov’s dog. The psychologist one day realised that when his dog heard a bell or a buzzer, he knew it was feeding time, thereby associate with a sound to eating, which led to the dog drooling and looking excited.

Modern psychologist tells us this is what is happening to us when we hear a beep or a ding inside our pocket; we become excitable, like Pavlov’s dog. Our reward is coming, and we get a hit of dopamine and we want more. We check our phone on average every 15 mins and that make the tech use psychological tricks to keep us checking in.

All the time spent checking in may affect our sleep, our relationship, our work, or even all the creative things we might do to have a flourishing existence. Psychologist tend to agree we should be checking in less, and tech producers need to start thinking about creating less powerful digital drugs. But that isn’t easy because as most people now need those beeps and likes, and need to feel that they are not missing out on something.

Experts even states that putting your phone down, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as craving, restlessness, irritability or difficulty in concentrating. So from now on you might turn off notifications, have a plan for the day and stick to it, take off the apps you really don’t need as that might lead to a kind of app surfing. In general, not many people are against these technologies, but we should be focusing on what we might call device quality time, educating ourselves and being productive and creative.

mental illness during pandemic

Mental Illness during Pandemic.
Covid19 pandemic hit the masses most severely mentally. The trauma from looking for the medicine, hospital beds to dealing with the mass of dead bodies, from being left jobless to mass migration and suffering. These all circumstances severely impacted our mental state. A tremendous number of people have lost their dear ones. And some are fighting for their life. While their loved ones and family are busy in the constant search of medicines and oxygen cylinders. Those who are safe are also suffering from mental illness by looking at their environment. Full of grief, devastation. This time is very hard. And financial crisis makes this problem. So many families especially of the lower class. Left without money and aid. Those who earn daily and labor are struggling a lot. These financial bottlenecks resulted in mental illness. Especially those students who are handling the digital divide. Faces stress and mental illness. All students couldn’t afford online education due to a lack of digital gadgets. That acts as a hindrance to the growth and education of unprivileged students. The cost of academic education and institution creates a financial burden for the students and the family. some can deal with it. But those who couldn’t eventually end up dropping out there college and institute. That leads to mental stress among the students. Recently, the cases of suicide by students increase manifold. That shows how mentally covid have impacted the students. Therefore cases of suicides are reported manifold. Students who are privilege enough. Also facing mental trauma. Online education also created an additional problem, technical glitches, electricity problems, access to devices, are major problems related to online education. That cause mental stress, headache as well as eyesight problems. This problem can be overcome through everyone’s participation. All need to contribute. By providing financial aid to the needy. And by including in the conversation as much as possible with our friends and family in this hard time. Chatting with each other acts as a medicine to cure the ailment of mental stress.

Friendship And Physical Distancing

Introverts or extrovert, social interaction is a need for everyone. No one is liking the fact that physical distancing isn’t taking place on their terms.

Self Isolation, physical distancing and ‘Real Friends’

To give you a breakup: Some of my friends aren’t taking self-isolation very well. Some don’t seem to be minding it at all. And then there are those who, on the surface, seem to be taking it well, but in reality are carrying the heavy load of being ‘the strong friend’.

In April, a tweet by the handle @/tiamowry got viral, it read “During this pandemic, you’ll really see who your friends are. Who’s really checking up on you? Making sure you’re okay? Remember that when all this is over?”. It was deleted after the backlash, but the sheer number of likes, retweets and all the ‘yes omg, you’re right’ comments it received made it clear that a lot of us follow the same mentality that the tweet reflected. The mentality, in plain words, is being self-absorbed. Sure, all of us want to receive love and feel loved. We want constant reassurance from our friends and family that care about us.

However, to go ahead and suggest that a friend who is not constantly checking up on you isn’t a ‘real’ friend is parochial. This mentality implies that the pandemic is only affecting you and your mental health. It fails to acknowledge that it is also affecting everyone else, which includes your ‘real’ friends.

The last thing you should do is measure the strength of your friendships based on how often a friend is checking up on you as if they don’t have other things that could be worrying them or occupying their time during a pandemic.

Personally, I’ve been checking in on my friends, talking to them as much as I can. Doing as much listening as sharing. In no way am I doing this expecting everyone else to do the same for me. While saying this, it is also important that I mention the context- I’m in an extremely privileged position than most in this whole situation. For one, I have a roof over my head, three hot meals and not any financial burden to keep me worried about. I am someone who can be described as an ‘overly productive’ person during the pandemic. While on most day I like to be buried in work, but there are also days when everything starts to take a toll on me, on those days, sometimes I’m busy pretending to be strong for people even though I can hardly seem do anything for my own mental health. The other times I prioritise myself, something I learned the hard way.

Who SHOULD YOU CHECK UP ON?

There is no fixed answer to this question. It could be people with emotional/mental disorders, your current friends, old friends, new friends, family or even distant relatives. It is okay to do this as long as it doesn’t cost you your own peace of mind. You can not help anyone if you yourself are struggling. If you are over extending yourself it is okay to not check in with people you regularly check in with. You can keep yourself first without dissolving in guilt.

UNLEARNING

Like I mentioned before, I personally don’t take offence to whether or not a friend drops me a text or randomly video calls me. The pandemic isn’t just about me nor is it just about them. It is something that we are all collectively experiencing combined with our own personal struggles.

Take a quick moment to practice a more open and accommodating mindset.

How Can You Avoid Getting Sucked Into Toxic Behaviour Online

A lot of us, without even realising, engage in toxic and unhealthy behaviours online. I’ll shares some tips that I follow for avoiding getting sucked into such behaviours.

RECOGNISING TOXIC BEHAVIOUR ONLINE

People today are always on some form of social media all the time, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, the list is never ending. Though using social media has its own benefits, I feel as though a lot of people get trapped in unhealthy behaviour patterns online without even knowing, as it isn’t something we talk about often.

step 1: Unfollow the ones you compare yourself to

It is a drastic step, but I really do believe that this helps you to stop comparing yourself to others online. If you compare yourself to people online and if you’ve been doing for a while, then it will be natural for you to compare yourself to the ones that you deem perfect. The best way to stop doing this, is to unfollow such accounts and fill your feed with accounts that are raw and make you feel good and real about yourself. After you have completed this step, you will begin to feel positive about yourself when you scroll your feed.

step 2: Make yourself Realise that it’s just one photo not their whole life

When you post a picture on any social media platform, do you tend to post when you’re having a bad day, or do you post it when you know you look your best? It’s more likely that you post a picture when you feel good about yourself, when you’re enjoying yourself, when you’re having fun and you then post the highlight of your day. When we look a someone’s picture, we automatically assume that you know everything about their lives, and that everything in their life is as perfect at their post. When you realise that every single person tends to post only the bits of the day that they love or enjoy, the sooner you’ll be able to ditch the unhealthy pattern and it will instantly make you feel good and much happierWhen you realise that every single person tends to post only those bits of their day that they love or enjoy, the sooner you’ll be able to ditch this unhealthy pattern and it will instantly make you feel good and much happier about where you are in life.

step 3: Set aside time to scroll

But I seem to have even 5 free minutes to myself I will pick up my phone and scrolled through my social media feed as if it is my daily newspaper. But this is something that I am working on and that something that you should aim to change too. The more you endlessly scroll through your social media feed, be it any platform, the more you will be out of touch with reality. That is why it is important to set aside some time for scrolling. In a long run this would allow you to focus throughout the day on things that you actually need to do as you know whenThat is why it is important to set aside some time for scrolling. In a long run this would allow you to focus throughout the day on things that you actually need to do as you know when you have allotted time to scroll.

Social Media can be a positive and an empowering place, but when/if it starts to have a negative impact on your mental health then something needs to change. Start making these small CHANGES today – you can do it

Taking Care Of Your Mental Health In The Times Of COVID-19

Breathe In. Breathe Out.

Hey, It’s normal to feel stressed, nervous, anxious, drained or worried right now.

COVID-19 has most likely changed every aspect of your life- your family dynamics, your eqaution with your friends, your social life, your schooling, your career, your interests, your habits and even you. As you deal with uncertainity and all the emotions that tag along, it’s crucial that along with your physical health, you take care of your mental health as well. Here are some things that I religiously follow and have worked for me. I hope they work for you as well!

You deserve patience, so be patient with yourself

  • Allow others to help you when you’re struggling. Don’t be shy to ask for help from those you trust and the ones who care about you. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength, strength in acknowledging that you need help and that you’re willing to work towards a better self.
  • Remind yourself that “It will pass”. Like any other moment, any other journey, any other hurdle in life, this too shall pass, for better. We can’t control what’s happening around us, and with the lack of control and constant bugging of how uncertain the times are, it’s important to remind ourselves we are doing what we can and that’s enough for today.
  • Self-reflect and see what you feel is important to you right now.

Reach out

  • Call your close friends and share your feelings with each other. As simple as it sounds, it is therapeutic, and will leave you in a better state than before. This will help lift off the weight from your chest.
  • Arrange a video call with friends, seeing their faces is as close to physical proximity as you can get right now.
  • Text a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time, rekindle with them. Maybe reminiscence the times you spent together, memorable moments that you shared, tell them something that remind you of them, go where the conversation takes you.

Take care of your body

  • Since there is very less to no physical activity. Make an active effort to do any form of exercise that you like: walking, jogging, skipping rope, dancing, Zumba, weights, yoga.
  • Get your quota of fresh air during the day. Inhale as much oxygen as you can.
  • Stick to a sleeping routine. In times that are so uncertain and unstable, having a routine can make you feel in control and calm about your surroundings. If you’re having trouble with sleeping, check my article- What should you do if you’re struggling to sleep in quarantine?
  • Practice deep breathing. Try 4-7-8 breathing if you feel anxious or stressed.

Eat your meals

  • Since most of us have erratic sleep schedules it’s no secret that we’re skipping out on meals. Try and eat three small meals each day.
  • Don’t starve yourself. It’s normal to not want to have full meals sometimes. Choose a trusted snack and rely on it whenever you feel hungry but not enough to have a meal.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink 4-6 cups of water daily to avoid dehydration. Warning signs of dehydration can include dizziness, weakness, low blood pressure, or urine that’s dark in color. (source: Harvard Medical School)

Why it’s okay to not be productive right now

Pandemic or not, your self worth is not proportional to your productivity

Like me, if social media has become your only out to boredom, you may have noticed conversations about the notions of ‘productivity’ rocketing. Whether it is your twitter mate updating you with their daily baking sessions or an Instagram friend showing off the pages and pages of work that they finished, or your family groups bombarding you with motivational posts about how to spend your free time, if you have any. There’s so much pressure right now to make the most of this ‘free’ time. It’s exhausting to even try to keep up. The rhetoric around productivity is so romanticised, glamorised and even glorified. However, every time I come across a reminder to be productive, I find myself thinking whether is it really a practical thing or can being productive everyday be a damaging to oneself?

As a university student doing her under graduation, the increase of workload, since the onset of Coronavirus in India, hasn’t gone unnoticed- being given a task after task, a deadline after deadline took a toll on all students. At the start of lockdown, I had internals, I was constantly pulling all nighters revising for the tests, completing assignments and keeping up with the daily workload of the online lessons. In this sense, it felt like nothing even while being locked up in our homes. There was always something that had to be submitted, something that needed to be revised or something that I needed to start working on. I was trying, as was everyone, but oftentimes, it felt like all the efforts amounted to nothing in the end. The workload didn’t end with the end of the semester, having to take-up internships in the middle of a pandemic caused immeasurable pressure and paranoia. My work plans are disrupted by distractions, I find myself unknowingly overextending and the balance between work & free time has become invisible. Not to mention the stress is unavoidable, and I constantly find myself waking up wishing for the day to end.

Is there anything that can be done?

Last year, if someone told us that we would be trapped inside our homes in a state of quarantine due to a deadly pandemic, we would have laughed it off. So, at the time our worst and unimaginable fears are coming true, being plunged into uncertainty does not mean that we have to function effectively alongside it. And therefore, being productive is no longer as important as it was before.

It is of utmost importance to acknowledge that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to use this situation to hone their skills, try new hobbies, explore new passions or build something unforgettable. In the midst of rapid unemployment, losing your loved ones, anxiety caused by separation from friends and family, isolation and loneliness, bad mental health is inevitable- and that’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay needing to take time off. It’s okay to listen to your body. Don’t be mad at yourself for not being able to deal with the situation as efficiently as your friend or your parent or your Instagram mutual. Getting out of the bed at a reasonable time is a task enough. Not putting off taking care of yourself and your needs is a task enough. Keeping up with your friends and checking up on them is a task enough. Spending time with your family is a task enough. Doing these tasks is no where near the perfect productive day I imagined – and it won’t be for a long while. I was meant to be getting excited about interning opportunities and travelling more and capturing more. Now when everything has gone south, the task of prioritising yourself is a rebellious act.

How can we change this mindset?

If you’re anything like me, university and work mean that I can not entirely ignore all my responsibilities in favour of self-care. Prioritising what you have to do is a good start to make sure you can do what needs to be done. Practice different methods or working. For me, sitting at my desk for more than 7 hours, staring at the laptop screen is quite overwhelming, mentally exhausting and doesn’t leave me feeling fulfilled. Taking breaks to perhaps watch an episode from a show that I’m currently hooked to or to mindlessly scroll on twitter ensures that I feel the balance.

This unsettling environment can be taxing. Forgive yourself for making mistakes.

3 Things To Do When A Friend Opens Up About Their Mental Health Struggles

All of us want to be there for our friends when they need us. We want to help them and provide the support in the best way we know. Nonetheless, when a friend tells us about their current struggle with their mental health, it can be challenging to decide what to do or what to say. It is valid to be worried about not making the situation worse or upsetting them by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Here are 3 things that will help you support your friend in a way that’s healthy for the both of you.

Seamless pattern of a crowd of many different people profile heads. Vector background.

1. Listen to them

We are constantly hearing people talk which may lead us to think that listening is easy. However, the goal is to listen and not just hear, to be a good listener, you must be able to put all your thoughts and judgements to one side. Try not to interrupt them while they are taking or rush them into talking. It’s most ideal to have the conversation with them when you do not have something to do soon since this can add to the pressure which could make you want to rush the conversation and make them feel unheard or worse, abandoned. You should also try to stay calm, process the information as and when you receive it.

2. Ask them what they would like from you

Sometimes people just want to be seen, be heard, or just want to get something off their chest. Other times they simply want advice or maybe reassurance. Asking them what they would like from you will help you to support them in the better way and it will ensure they do not leave feeling unsatisfied or unheard. Try to be as honest, patient and kind as possible when responding to your them. In dealing with such situations, you can be most helpful by asking yourself these three questions: ‘What’s best for my friend?’. ‘What would I want the most from my friend if I was in this situation?’ and ‘How would I want to be treated had I been in the same situation?’

3. Check up on them

If you feel mentally stable enough and are able to, keep asking your friend how they are and how they feel, take the time out to candidly listen to what they have to say, keep repeating this cycle. Mental health problems don’t vanish after one conversation. These problems can also be incredibly isolating. Regualrly checking up on your friend is one step closer to making them feel a little less alone, visible and will also serve as a reminder that you care about them.

It is okay if you can’t always be there for the people you love and care about. We all have our own challenges and struggles. If you do not feel up to it, you should signpost them to others who they can talk to like some other close friend, a trusted family member or a mental health organisation that can professionally help.

Lets Defeat Insta-Anxiety

The new common question that pops up in everyone’s mind is- How do we move past our anxieties and insecurities so we can grow our personally on social media?

1. Unfollow your celebrities

This can be hard, and it can even take a long time, especially if, like me, you follow hundreds of celebrities alone. It can be hard to break from the habit of constantly checking what your favourite celeb is doing or wearing but for the sake of your mental health you need to make this move.

You can easily find any ground breaking news of your favourite in the on sites like BuzzFeed or Cosmopolitan. 

2. Follow real and actual people

Instead of page 3 celebrities, follow more people who are like you, real people. If you are a writer, follow more writers. If you are a local blogger owner, follow other local bloggers. If you are an illustrator, follow more illustrators. If you just appreciate any form of art, be it singing, dancing, spoken poetry, follow more such artists. You’ll come to realise that everyone has flaws, no one is really perfect. On the upside, you’ll be lifting other talented people up, and they will be lifting you up. All will grow together. 

3. Do your own photoshoot

Take your phone and a tripod if you have one, and just walk around your house. Wander around and see what catches your eye, maybe it’s a well-lit corner in your house that you never noticed before or a tiny window with a sky view. Snap a picture or ten, then move onto the next thing. 

Look for the beauty in yourself and the world around you. Be raw, you don’t always have to filter your photos, you are beautiful as you are. Be as much or as less artistic you want to be while taking pictures. The more photos you take, the better you’ll get at it, don’t give up.

4. Try scheduling your posts

For me, scheduling Instagram posts saves me from a lot of fear. It’s less scary when you aren’t actively thinking about posting something. 

With Facebook’s Creator Studio, you can easily schedule your Instagram posts. For this all you need is a Facebook page and an Instagram page that are connected to each other, that’s it, it is that easy!

No more third-party scheduling apps that don’t even automatically post the images. Now, you can plan everything out in advance, schedule it for whenever you want, sit back and (try to) relax.

How Social Media Affects Your Self Awareness

I recently acquainted myself with a new term called ‘Smiling Depression’. This term is unusually used for people who appear happy on the outside but are in actual fact not happy. Because of social media, this condition has become more prevalent in social media users. 

We all know of Maslow’s hierarchy of our basic needs- self actualisation is one of the needs we have as an individual and we are constantly making efforts to craft this image that is better than the current one. We try so much that this becomes almost obsessive. As humans, we are set up with the basic instincts of self-improvement and we always somehow seem to know how to identify someone who we feel is ahead of us. This creates the an endless loop of ‘smiling depression’. 

Social media is an easy and dreamy out to reality. To create the image of a person who simply wakes up fresh and rejuvenated face, has time for make-up and heads out stylish without even trying to be, but how many of us can testify it as that easy? Very few if any. We all need to realise that regardless of the amount of time we spend creating these social identities online, we are only simple humans. Others are just better at creating and embracing these images and facades on social media.

So next time you are scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed, realise these points before you slip into ‘smiling depression’:

  1. You need a time-out from social media, maybe even for the rest of the day. People are not who they are online, their image on social media is highly curated and does not always represent reality. 
  2. Confront the negative thoughts and ask yourself  ‘Where are they coming from?’. Remind yourself we all wear a mask online, no one is as happy as they appear to be on social media. Everyone has problems, even celebrities. 
  3. If social media is your boredom killer where you scroll endlessly the whole day, logout and grab a book or download gaming app or do something that you like and you’re good at. Be more productive in real life and less online.

Why Mental Health is not something to be ignored?

Sushant Singh Rajput’s death due to suicide speaks volumes on why mental health is important. According to reports, it is believed that he was suffering from depression for the last six months and was consulting a psychiatrist. Many celebrities have come forward and talked on how society needs to take mental health as seriously as physical health, without waiting for a moment of crisis.

Researches have said that every 4 minutes, one person commits suicide in India. With the lockdown, situations have become even worse. There is an increase in stress among individuals. Reason being that people are thrown out of their jobs due to financial crunch and they have no money left, no social life, or by overthinking. Not only this, but people are also wondering how to come out of it, there may be post-traumatic stress disorders as well. Staying alone is yet another issue as there is nobody to monitor.

Experts underline that people need to watch out for symptoms for the behavioral pattern that is not normal in themselves or others. Symptoms could be – disrupted sleep pattern, sudden emotional outbursts, change in behavior such as being withdrawn, no urge to ear or overeating, consciously not maintaining hygiene, seeking solace in excessive smoking, drinking, etc.

Though we seem to have progressed as a society, we still lack the openness when it comes to mental health. This block in mind needs a change. Gone are the days when we did not have awareness about mental illness. Just like we can go to the doctor when we are physically sick, we can also go to a psychiatrist/psychologist.

There is also a lot of stigmas attached to mental health that needs to be eradicated. Society has this mindset that strong people cannot get depressed. But depression is like COVID, anyone can get affected by it. It does not come with a clause.

Mental health services in India have been highly inadequate even before the pandemic. With just 4,000 psychiatrists to serve over a billion people, the situation seems difficult to handle. But somehow it needs to be met.

The device that we throw away for our sake of mental health, we need to pick that up, call your loved ones. Sharing our thoughts and feelings always lightens up the mood. There is someone out there to hear you, always, you need to vent it out.

There are small steps that you can take to improve your mental health every day. Things like exercising, eating a balanced diet, opening up others in your life, remembering something you are grateful for, taking a break when you need to, and getting good sleep, can help boost your emotional health.

Being healthy mentally can boost your productivity and effectiveness in work, school, college. It also plays a crucial role in building your relationships and allowing you to adapt to changes.

All to say, when mental health is ultimately recognized as essential to physical health and not an extraneous element of it, then we will have access to real, complete medicine.