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Social media, some of us use it for business, some for pleasure and for some it’s where news and gossip are consumed, where complaints are made, and opinions are traded. It’s a bit marmite-y, some of us love it, some of us shun it but one thing is for sure, so many of us have spent endless hours doom scrolling, aka the act of endlessly scrolling and consuming a large quantity of negative online news, typically without pause, to the detriment of the mental health of the person consuming it.  

Can Social Media Support Good Mental Health? 

I conducted a gratitude experiment on social media last year and I can testify to the benefits not just on my own mental health but also on people I’ve never met. 

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness, depending on the context. Last year I practised 150 days of gratitude on my Twitter feed, sharing a photo about what I was grateful for that day. 

I’ve learned through my own experience and by researching it, that having an attitude of gratitude is good for our body, our brain and our relationships.  

What was I grateful for?  

I covered everything, the little things baking retro style using my Gran’s old recipes for rock cakes, hugging the odd tree in the many green spaces in my local neighbourhood in Glasgow, an amusing sign or graffiti all lifted my spirits and when I shared images of these on Twitter, many people liked them too. 

And there were the big things: our incredible NHS, our selfless key workers being Covid free, good health for loved ones, the people that help us navigate through this crisis with their warmth, humour and if we’re lucky, love and friendship.  

Then, the high-profile people navigating us through this crisis; scientists and advisors such as Professor Devi Sridhar, Nicola Sturgeon and her team, WHO’s Dr Mike Ryan and several media contributors including The Guardian’s Eva Wiseman and author, Times Radio presenter and broadcaster Ayesha Hazarika. 

The Science 

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, who studied more than 1,000 people aged between eight and 80, found that those who consistently practised gratitude enjoyed a host of benefits. 

Physically, these people had stronger immune systems, were less bothered by stress, aches and pains and they enjoyed better sleep. Psychological benefits included feeling more joy and pleasure, experiencing more optimism and being happier. The research also found there was a positive social aspect too – they were deemed more helpful, generous and compassionate, and they reported feeling less lonely or isolated. 

Why does it work and why is it so powerful?  

When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’ and there’s an abundance of articles on neuroscience and the power of gratitude.  

Feel Good Social Media 

One social media account I can recommend for positivity is Happify. Their M.O. is to help you overcome negative thoughts, stress, and life’s challenges with science-based activities and games @happify.

An app which I’ve found hugely beneficial is the Clementine app, I’ve tried Calm and Headspace and there’s no comparison. The content is created for women by women, it’s expertly crafted, and the quality of the content is of the highest calibre. 

I had no experience of hypnotherapy until now and wished I discovered it sooner.  

I listen religiously, to the morning mantra session and at night listen to the sleep sessions. They also share have a dynamite newsletter packed with pick-me-ups every fortnight. It’s one app I recommend regularly to all my girlfriends as it really is great therapy! @clementineappuk 

I’d love to know which positive social media accounts, magazines, podcasts apps or blogs you follow for uplifting content. 

And thanks to you too for reading this blog. 

Heather Suttie is Creative Director at Hollicom. 

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