This year has been tough on everybody’s mental well-being. It’s a fragile time, and with shops reopening, businesses bringing hybrid working into the mix, and the government giving out vaccines, everything feels as though it’s happening at once. That’s because it is.
There is understandably tension around people as the virus is still very much active and around. Here are some tips that might help your mental health during these very stressful and exhausting times.
This can be picking up a book, watching a film, or even playing a game. Just taking some time to do some healthy escapism to help you feel better can do the world of good, and for a moment nothing will matter, and it will give your brain a much-needed break. Playing games that you might not normally play, such as those found online like All Slots Casino can give your mind something new to focus on, which might be a critical way to getting your body recharged.
This can release positive hormones to make you feel so much better. Going out for a walk, doing a workout or going for a swim if the weather is good might be great ways to get your mood back up to its normal level. You can also embrace healthier habits too, such as trying to reach your 10,000 steps a day or trying to shed off some of that quarantine weight you are bound to have put on.
Whether it’s something creative or joining a sports club, starting a hobby can be your saving grace. Not only will it give your brain another thing to focus on rather than work or any problems you might have at home, but you might also decide to switch off and sit and do your creative hobby, which can give your thoughts space to evolve and grow. It can also help you with problem-solving too.
Joining a sports club, as mentioned earlier, might be a better option if you are an extrovert. Quarantine has been incredibly tough on those that get their energy and motivation from others, as it can be a real struggle for them to feel motivated and they might get depressed. Taking this opportunity to socialize with others can be incredibly good for an extrovert’s mental well-being, which can be excellent for everyone.
If you were honest about your mental health at this time, you’d have to admit it could probably be better, which is why you need to take as many steps as you can to take care of it. Whether it is using escapism to give your mind a much-needed break, doing more exercise to cut off those quarantine pounds and make you feel good, or even starting a hobby or joining a club to help combat loneliness and depression, there are many ways you can help your mental health during this uncertain time.
Mental health has a lot of stigmas attached to it, and for many of us, speaking out freely about our struggles can be difficult. Somehow, over the years, young people started looking for comfort through memes on social media, which allow them to speak about their concerns with a little more ease. But why is it that, for many of us, it is easier to share our issues through jokes and humour?
Instagram is a paradoxical place. It is no secret that social media platforms are immensely harmful to our wellbeing, and, surprise, surprise—according to a study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health in 2017, Instagram was proven to be the worst social media platform for our mental wellbeing. There are endless reasons for this, be that the constant anxieties of ‘keeping up’ or comparing ourselves to others.
But users on Instagram are slowly changing the scene, all the while trying to make the platform a better place—whether it’s influencers taking a pledge to be more transparent, or people advocating for Instagram to remove the ‘like’ feature. The platform also serves as a home to an ever-growing online meme community, one that is driving the conversation around mental health, and de-stigmatizing it one meme at a time.
Mental health is a heavy topic, but it doesn’t have to be. “I think there is a lot of great support and conversation, but it is on a more serious tone. And while I think that is necessary, I also think that the seriousness and the weight of it sometimes add to the pressure and the stigma of the illness itself,” @thementallytrillest told Screen Shot. @thementallytrillest is one of the few Instagram accounts prompting the conversation around mental health, through funny, witty and self-loathing memes.
Cori, perhaps better known as @manicpixiememequeen, started her meme account as a way to cope with her own struggles. In 2017, she was experiencing some mental health issues, and her uncle had just tried to commit suicide. “I did what any other person would do: I made an anonymous ‘finsta’ to shout my personal problems out to the void of the internet in the form of memes. The creation process made me feel productive, rather than feeling like I was wallowing or pitying myself,” she told Screen Shot. “@manicpixiememequeen has given me so many incredible opportunities to generate discussion about mental health,” Cori added. She went on to speak at Stanford University, and she even had several therapists message her, thanking her for posting the memes. “Some of their patients have used my memes to start a conversation in private sessions,” Cori explained.
For some members of the older generations, memes do not carry as much cultural significance as they do for the new gen. Of course, depicting our personal struggles through memes may seem like an unconventional coping mechanism, but when it comes to mental health, our generation is the most outspoken one. Memes make difficult conversations easier to have—somehow seeing somebody go through the same struggles as you, and still be able to laugh about it makes you feel like you can relate to people, and in the end, it makes you feel a bit better.
“Mental health issues can feel and be incredibly alienating, and memes that address these issues help people feel less alone and may even encourage them to speak and seek help,” Alia, also known as @memesturbationation on Instagram, shared with Screen Shot. She explained that memes not only help her process her feelings, but help her acknowledge them as well. And this ability to feel less isolated, and to relate to other people online is what creates such a wonderful community, one that is safe and welcoming, and one that uses memes as a unique language for today’s century, driving the growing conversation around mental health.
Odie, known as @not.yr.boyfriend online, has been ‘meming’ since early 2016, and has built a helpful community since then. The purpose of their work is to “embody the work I am doing on myself and in my community.” They explain that they wouldn’t describe their account as a mental health page, but instead as a project of self-work that aims to shift humanity towards a culture of accountability. Memes have the potential to drive a conversation and shift opinions, be that for political or social reasons, meaning that disregarding them or the work that meme creators do would be unfair.
And yet, memes about mental health are still met with a lot of criticism. For example, @memesturbationnation previously received some criticism for her work, accusing her of romanticising and trivialising mental health, to which she responds “I think that’s bullshit. It’s just more people trying to shame and silence those who experience mental health issues. I’ve received way more messages thanking me for sharing my experience with mental illness through memes.” Is it really fair to silence creators who predominantly create a safe space as a coping mechanism of their own, and who are helping so many people online?
Mental health is a sensitive subject, and it is understandable why some people don’t engage with memes depicting subjects of their personal struggles. But Instagram can be used as a tool that many people use to reach out to others who are experiencing the same thing, to let them know that they are not alone, and to show and receive support. The beautiful thing about meme pages on Instagram is how many of them there are. Be it astrology memes, political memes, art memes or mental health memes—there is content for everyone, and a community for all. Mental health meme pages on Instagram are a reminder that it’s okay not to be okay, and they’re accessible for everyone, at any time.