Setting Boundaries in the Holiday Season

Written by: Pansiluni Hasanjana Weerawansa

As we transition into the New Year, we tend to reflect on our past and set out resolutions for the New Year. While common resolutions cycle among personal achievements and physical health goals, it’s extremely crucial not to overlook the significance of mental health and well-being as we set out these resolutions.

Let’s dive into setting healthy boundaries for mental health, especially during the holiday season.

First off, they serve as the invisible lines that define the limits of what is acceptable and comfortable for an individual. Setting and maintaining boundaries is a fundamental aspect of self-care. In this busy and fast-growing world where social engagement, familial expectations, work matters, as well as relationships, overlap each other, the urge to establish clear boundaries is profound. In the holiday season, myriads of social gatherings, family events, and meetups can often be emotionally draining. There is often pressure to accept every invitation that comes your way to fulfil everyone’s expectations. Establishing when to say yes and when to decline an invitation politely can help individuals to regulate their stress levels. Without clear boundaries, some of us may feel overcommitted with a busy schedule during the holidays. Learning to say no and setting realistic expectations is an essential part of setting these boundaries.

Boundaries also serve as a shield from emotionally draining and toxic friendships as well as relationships. Whether it’s managing difficult family interactions or balancing time between friend groups, having clear boundaries and prioritising oneself can help keep stress at bay and protect our mental health.

Before setting boundaries, it’s crucial to engage in self-reflection. Understand your own needs, priorities, and limits. What activities bring you joy, and which ones drain your energy? Self-awareness forms the foundation for effective boundary-setting.

We often struggle with learning to say ‘No’. It makes us feel guilty, especially those of us who are people pleasers who struggle heavily with declining invitations, gatherings, helping etc. People pleasers tend to accept every request that comes their way and often feel overcommitted and emotionally drained. Learning to say ‘No’ this season is a powerful and liberating act. It’s okay to decline invitations or requests that don’t align with your priorities or contribute positively to your well-being.

Effective communication is key to setting boundaries. It is a skill essential for maintaining healthy relationships and personal well-being. It involves transparently articulating your needs, expectations, and limits to those in your social and professional circles. The emphasis is on assertive communication, employing “I” statements to express feelings and intentions without assigning blame. Individuals take ownership of their actions by using “I” statements. Clear communication can act as a cornerstone of establishing boundaries that honour individual well-being and help maintain healthy relationships.

Whether it is alone time, a jog, or reading a book, remember to prioritise self-care this season. The New Year can often be exhausting and prioritising self-care allows you to engage in activities that bring you joy and peace.

As we step into the New Year, let us embrace the significance of setting and maintaining boundaries for our mental health. By doing so, we not only protect ourselves from the stressors of the holiday season but also lay the foundation for a healthier and more fulfilling year ahead. Boundaries are not a sign of weakness; rather, they are a powerful tool for self-care, empowering us to steer life’s challenges with resilience and grace. So, let this be the year in which we prioritise our mental well-being by setting boundaries that honour our needs and develop our souls.

Self-Care Tips for Stay-at-Home Moms

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

Being a stay-at-home mom is a journey full of love, happiness, and many rewarding moments. It’s no secret, however, that such a job comes with its own set of problems, leaving little time for yourself. Juggling the responsibilities of children, household chores, and sometimes even working from home can be exhausting, making self-care appear to be a faraway luxury. While caring for your family is certainly important, it is also important to remember that you matter too! 

Therefore, this blog post will look at self-care tips for stay-at-home moms so that if you are one, it will help you find balance in the middle of motherhood’s everyday challenges. 

Establish a good routine. 

Set up a good routine and start your day with it to feel better about yourself. For example, before other family members wake up, you can schedule some alone time. It will make a significant impact in your life whether you are enjoying a hot cup of coffee, doing yoga, or simply listening to your favourite music. It will lower your stress levels and you are less likely to feel overwhelmed by the ongoing demands of parenting and household chores if you have a good routine. 

Have a daily me-time! 

Everyone needs a me-time to recharge a bit. Perhaps you’ve entirely forgotten about your interests while caring for and satisfying others, such as your husband and children. So, try to set aside at least 30 minutes every day for yourself. No distractions – you can try to do whatever you like, for example, after your children go to bed you can maybe read a chapter of a book or watch some TV series. 

Talk to other moms. 

You might find that everything is easier when you talk to other moms who have gone through similar experiences. You can maybe talk with them, meet them twice every month or so. Alternatively, you could join an online community/group designed exclusively for stay-at-home moms. This will decrease your feelings of isolation and loneliness while also improving your interpersonal skills. You can even ask for advice from other moms anytime you face a life challenge. Or simply talk about the joys of being a stay-at-home parent! Remember that being a stay-at-home mom does not have to limit your ability to enjoy life and interact with others. 

Share household responsibilities. 

You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Openly discuss household responsibilities with your husband and children. You can, for example, divide responsibilities like grocery shopping and bringing up children from school with your husband effectively. You can also allocate specific jobs to your children, such as watering the plants, making the table, and cleaning some dishes, to ease some of the pressure on your shoulders. 

Make healthy practices a priority. 

As a stay-at-home mom, you will often forget to take care of yourself first. For example, you may not have a regular sleeping schedule or the time to eat a balanced and nutritious meal. However, such healthy practices are important to maintain good general well-being. To get a good night’s sleep, try to keep to the same schedule for sleeping every day, or take a short power nap during the day after completing household chores. It is always important to have a balanced diet, remain hydrated, and occasionally enjoy anything you want (for example, chocolates or sweets). You can also exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, whether through yoga or a basic workout, and the best part is you can try it all out at home by watching YouTube videos! 

Recognize that you are doing your best! 

Doing a household chore, such as washing clothes may not feel like the best activity to enjoy. However, these are your accomplishments, and you are doing your best. So remember to enjoy the simple things since they will increase your self-esteem and general value in life. You can always treat yourself with a girl’s night out, movie time, or a little shopping for all that you do for others as a stay-at-home mom. 

Conclusion

Remember that taking care of yourself should not be a luxury while you explore the challenges of being a stay-at-home mom. It should not be something that you do occasionally. You also don’t have to feel bad about taking some time off for yourself. Therefore, make sure to follow these self-care tips. It will guarantee that you have a good general well-being and will help you be prouder of your motherly responsibilities. So don’t worry too much – you deserve to take some time for yourself every day! 

How Acts of Kindness Influence Mental Health

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga 

Every year, on November 13th, we celebrate World Kindness Day. The purpose of this unique day is to remind ourselves to treat people with more kindness and consideration. So, have you ever thought about how acts of kindness can influence your mental health? It turns out that being kind not only benefits those who receive it, but it also influences those who give it! 

In this blog post, we will investigate how acts of kindness influence mental health to make everything a little better. 

Increases the Love Hormone 

Kindness brings about the release of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone” or “bonding hormone.” Individual acts of kindness have also been shown to generate new neural connections and release oxytocin and endorphins. According to data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, just thinking about compassion and kindness activates the brain’s emotional regulation system (Mathers, 2016). That is why oxytocin has been linked to emotional closeness, trust, and affectionate feelings. For example, simply hugging a friend or family member can cause the release of oxytocin, making you feel more emotionally connected to them. They will also feel a lot better if you do this; even if they aren’t particularly sad or worried, a hug can go a long way to make someone feel cared for. 

Improves Self Esteem 

Kindness can help you feel better about yourself. More importantly, seeing how good an impact your acts of kindness have on people will strengthen your belief in your own abilities and worth as a person. Consider the following scenario: You offer to help a friend who is having trouble with schoolwork. You become a source of comfort as well as motivation for them during these difficult moments. Not only will you boost your self-esteem, but your friend will glow with happiness at having you as a friend. This will in turn improve their self-esteem and mental health too! 

Promotes Healing 

Kindness has a powerful, scientifically tested ability to support emotional and physical healing. Kindness can be used as a form of natural painkiller. In one study of homeless adults who frequently visited the emergency department, researchers wanted to see if providing compassionate care through trained volunteers made a difference in how frequently these individuals returned for additional emergency visits. According to Redelmeier et al. (1995), patients who received compassionate care had a significantly lower average number of visits per month following intervention. This suggests that when homeless individuals see that they are receiving kind and compassionate treatment, they may be more satisfied with their initial treatment and not need to return as frequently. 

Enhances Resilience 

Individuals can develop resilience by being kind to others and receiving kindness in return. This is especially important during difficult times, such as when dealing with loss, illness, or other challenges. Knowing that you can be kind to yourself and others can give you the strength you need to overcome tough times. Beaton et al. (2021), for example, discovered that lower levels of self-compassion in adults with ADHD help to explain the higher levels of ill being (depression, anxiety, and stress) and lower levels of wellbeing (psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing) associated with ADHD. Furthermore, they have proposed that increasing one’s kindness to oneself could be used to support resilience and coping for those with ADHD who face difficulties because of executive function deficits. 

Creates Positive Social Connections 

According to research, kindness creates positive supportive and meaningful social connections, which in turn reduces stress response and fulfils fundamental, innate needs that are important for longevity and well-being (Fryburg, 2022). Simple gestures such as complimenting a coworker on their work can help to establish these kinds of connections. Furthermore, it has been discovered that even a few minutes of practising techniques such as loving-kindness meditation enhanced feelings of social connection and a positive attitude toward strangers (Hutcherson et al., 2008). 

Conclusion 

You now understand that kindness has the power to make life happier and emotionally fulfilling as well as to make yourself more resilient by increasing oxytocin levels, lowering stress levels, creating positive social connections, and much more! So, as we celebrate World Kindness Day, keep in mind that including kindness in your daily life can bring you and others happiness. 

References 

  1. Beaton, D. M., Sirois, F., & Milne, E. (2022). The role of self-compassion in the mental health of adults with ADHD. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 78(12), 2497–2512. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.23354 
  1. Fryburg, D. A. (2022). Kindness as a stress reduction–health promotion intervention: a review of the psychobiology of caring. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 16(1), 89-100. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1559827620988268 
  1. Hutcherson, C. A., Seppala, E. M., & Gross, J. J. (2008). Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 8(5), 720–724. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013237 
  1. Mathers, N. (2016). Compassion and the science of kindness: Harvard Davis Lecture 2015. The British Journal of General Practice, 66(648), 525–527. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp16X686041 
  1. Redelmeier, D. A., Molin, J. P., & Tibshirani, R. J. (1995). A randomised trial of compassionate care for the homeless in an emergency department. Lancet, 345(8958), 1131–1134. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(95)90975-3 

7 Reasons Why Going to Therapy is Beneficial

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

In today’s hectic world, going to therapy has become a popular option for those seeking to enhance their mental health. However, you should know that therapy isn’t just necessary for those with mental health challenges; it also provides several benefits for people looking to improve their overall well-being. There are different reasons why going to therapy might be beneficial, whether you’re facing specific issues such as exam stress or simply trying to improve your relationship satisfaction. 

So, let us look at 7 reasons why going to therapy is beneficial, and how it may help you feel more fulfilled in life. 

1. Treating mental health challenges 

One of the most important benefits of going to therapy is treating mental health challenges. Therapy can help treat a lot of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and more. It provides people with coping strategies and tools to help them enhance their emotional well-being. Major life transitions might also have an impact on our mental health. Whether it is a job loss, the end of a romantic relationship, or the death of a loved one, it is always a good idea to have someone to talk to as you begin your journey towards healing. 

2. A good start for self-exploration 

Therapy promotes self-reflection and awareness. It allows you to dig further into your ideas, feelings, and behaviours, and helps to gain more understanding of yourself. For example, with the help of a therapist, you can find out what causes your stress or anger, or what makes you joyful and at ease. This can lead towards a happy life! Not only that but going to therapy can help you set clear goals because the therapist will guide and motivate you throughout your life path. 

3. Developing good coping strategies 

Coping strategies help people in dealing with stress and unpleasant emotions in their life. However, not all coping techniques are beneficial; there are adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies. Exercising, journaling, talking with a friend, watching your favourite TV show, going for a 10-minute walk are examples of adaptive coping strategies. Anger outbursts, self-harm, drug use, and isolation are all examples of maladaptive coping strategies. So, with the guidance of a therapist, you can learn how to develop good coping strategies in a healthy and safe environment. 

4. Improving communication skills 

Therapy can help you learn how to communicate in a healthy, effective, and positive manner. Being able to properly communicate means that you can successfully manage almost all aspects of your life. Therefore, with the help of a therapist you can learn how to establish healthy relationship boundaries, communicate your wants clearly, and assertively demand the things you want from people. This is especially important for couples because it allows them to build up their communication and conflict resolution skills, allowing them to grow together and overcome hurdles. 

5. Allows for behaviour modification 

Our behaviours, like the thoughts we have, can be extremely damaging, not only to ourselves but also to people around us. They might make it difficult to maintain healthy relationships, think positively, and live a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps you struggle with substance abuse, binge eating, unsafe sexual practices, suspecting your partner for no apparent reason, or self-sabotage. Whatever it is, therapy can help you change the way you behave and make better decisions. 

6. Enhanced productivity 

We sometimes struggle to focus on one thing, whether at school, work, or in any other aspect of our lives. For example, maybe you are not happy with your job and do not want to go to work anymore. Or you can’t stay focused on work for more than 10 minutes! Whatever it is, therapy can help you understand and prioritise what you need to do in order to be productive. Your therapist can help you regain control of your life by making a daily task schedule, breaking down the job into smaller parts, or using more advanced approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). 

7. Improves your physical health 

Most of us don’t know this, but there is a close link between mental and physical health. This means that therapy can also improve your physical health. For example, therapy can teach you how to handle stress, which can lead to better sleep, lower blood pressure, and a more powerful immune system. This, in turn, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases and much more! And adopting healthy behaviours, such as exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, and so on, will also greatly improve your physical health. 

You now understand that going to therapy has a lot of benefits. It can help with all aspects of life, not just mental health. Going to therapy, whether for a specific life challenge or simply to grow as a person, may be a transformative experience. Which is why you should give it a try at least once in your life to experience the benefits for yourself. 

How to Navigate the Psychological Challenges of Moving Abroad?

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

Are you planning to move abroad soon for higher education, a new job, or for another personal reason? If you said yes, this post is for you!

Moving abroad can be a life-changing experience because it opens up many possibilities. However, it may cause many psychological challenges that can be very stressful if not handled appropriately.

Many people are unaware of the emotional impact of leaving familiar surroundings and adjusting to a new culture. It can make you wonder if you made the right decision and whether the change was worth it.

That’s why we wrote this article just for you, to help you get ready for whatever comes next. So, let us take a look at the psychological challenges of moving abroad and a few tips for navigating them.

1. Prepare yourself mentally for moving abroad

Not preparing yourself mentally for moving abroad can be one of the reasons which inhibits your ability to accept change. Mental preparation may include reading a bit about the country you are planning to go to, including its customs, traditions, way of life, and even the weather and if there are any seasonal weather changes. This helps to reduce the culture shock because now you already know what to expect when you are there.

Also, it won’t be easy to accept everything all at once. Know that you are only human and it takes time to process things.

Especially when going abroad from Sri Lanka, the Western culture and way of life can come as quite a surprise to us. So, don’t expect the new country to feel like home in a few weeks, sometimes it may take months and that’s okay!

You can also prepare mentally by learning the language of the country you are planning to go to. While most of the countries speak English, not everyone does. So be ready with at least a few phrases in the local language to facilitate basic conversation.

Example:

Sneha is a 25-year-old girl from Sri Lanka who secured a job in Japan. Before moving to Japan, she thought of learning about some basic Japanese language skills, and also about the customs and traditions in Japan. So, during her research, she found that rules related to greeting, bowing, and gift-giving were very different to Sri Lanka which might be overwhelming for her.

2. Know that it is normal to experience culture shock

Culture shock is a common psychological challenge that occurs in many people moving abroad as a result of having to adapt to a culture that is significantly different from their own or from a culture that they have adapted to over time. This challenge is completely normal and is an essential part of the adaptation process for the new country.

Being a little open-minded and accepting that things are going to be different from what you see back home will take you a long way in the adaptation process. Think of it like this – sometimes foreigners get culture shock when they find out people eat with their hands or that public display of affection is restricted after visiting Sri Lanka, but they adjust and adapt according to the local culture. So, it goes both ways!

The good part about being open-minded is that you get to immerse yourself in the local culture, as well as new and unique experiences that you will cherish later, when you learn about other countries’ customs and traditions. If you still find it difficult, try to connect with other people from your country who are also new to the country you moved to. Then share your experiences and feelings with them. You will find that you are not alone and that they may be experiencing similar feelings as you.

Example:

Thejan is a 30-year-old boy from Sri Lanka who moved to London to do his Master’s Degree in Software Engineering. Although he was fluent in English, he experienced difficulties understanding what his fellow batchmates and professors were saying at the university. This happened because Thejan could not understand some accents, dialects and slangs in the UK as a non-native speaker. However, Thejan asked his friends to help him with the nuances of the local way that English was spoken and even took spoken language lessons from YouTube without being worried about it. And after about six months, he was completely fine with understanding everyone!

3. Find healthy ways to cope with loneliness

Moving abroad means that loneliness will hit you because you are leaving behind your family and friends. Just know that while loneliness is a common feeling encountered when moving abroad, the key thing to do is find healthy ways to cope with it.

Socialising with your friends abroad at least once a week is a great way to get out of loneliness. You can also join university clubs or societies if you move abroad for higher studies. Joining a gym can also inject some. Or else, you can do some jogging, swimming, or even yoga! It can even be simple things like reading a book, re-watching your favourite TV show, and listening to music.

You can also personalise your space (bedroom, study area, etc.) to feel like home. Maybe photographs of your family and friends would be a great addition!

Example:

Dinara is a 28-year-old girl who moved to Canada with her husband. However, after moving abroad she deeply missed family and friends. Sometimes she would get so sad, skip meals, and lay in bed all day. She didn’t even want to go to work. She would always ask her husband whether they could move back to Sri Lanka. To understand and work on her feelings of loneliness, she decided to go to a therapist. After a while, she understood that moving to Canada was a great opportunity for both herself and her husband. She also joined a dance class (it was her passion) and found some great friends through that to hang out with on the weekends! She also scheduled video calls daily with her family and close friends back home so that she could keep up with what was going on in their lives.

Now that you know how to navigate the psychological challenges of moving abroad, remember that adjusting to a new country takes time and it’s okay to struggle at first. You have to be patient with yourself. If you feel like it is taking a toll on you, talk to your family or friends, and seek professional assistance from a therapist. And the challenges are not going to be there forever. Storms surely pass! So, cheers to exciting possibilities and thrilling adventures in a new country!

Eco-anxiety: A Look into Environmental Concerns

Written by: Sabeeha Azmi 

An increasing number of individuals around the world have been experiencing a relatively new type of distress referred to as eco-anxiety. This is a unique phenomenon that can be described as a deep concern and worry for the environment and the future of the planet. As the effects of climate change are becoming more and more apparent and ecological issues escalate and become more pressing, it is necessary and essential to explore, understand and address this psychological concern. 

Let’s take a dive into understanding eco-anxiety a little more. Eco-anxiety can be characterised by fear, distress and is an emotional reaction to the realisation that the planet is facing severe negative environmental impacts leading to uncertain future consequences. This anxiety often presents itself with a sense of hopelessness, guilt, despair and helplessness as people try to come to terms with the scale of these global environmental issues. 

There are several aspects that can contribute to the development of eco-anxiety. Viewing scientific evidence about the detrimental impact of climate change on the planet could be overwhelming and distressing. Along with these, exposure to social media posts, documentaries and news reports on alarming environmental events, species extinction and disasters could be a constant source of stress. Additionally, if one experiences these phenomena personally, such as witnessing environmental destruction or seeing impacts of climate change such as frequent flash floods, it can intensify the worry and fear. 

Although eco-anxiety can be overwhelming, there are several ways and strategies that individuals can implement to manage and cope with these worries. 

Awareness: understanding environmental issues in a more comprehensive and structured way can provide individuals with a sense of capability towards making a positive impact. The information one consumes should come from credible sources and try to engage in conversations that are productive instead of always focusing on the negative picture. 

Do your part: one way to reduce eco-anxiety is to get involved in advocating to address environmental concerns. Take part in environmental initiatives such as cleaning the beach, volunteering for projects or institutions working towards sustainability. You can also encourage others such as within your community to take collective action towards sustainability.  This could provide you with a sense of purpose and make you feel like you are doing something towards saving the planet. 

Limit exposure: constantly viewing negative portrayals of environmental concerns can increase worry. Set some boundaries and allow yourself specific times to view media related to environmental concerns. Finding a balance between staying informed and ensuring mental wellbeing is key. 

Self-care: remember your mental well-being is important and you shouldn’t neglect working on it. Make sure to take part in activities that bring you a sense of calm and relaxation such as meditation, spending time with friends and family, exercising etc. 

Feelings of worry and distress are natural emotional responses we have towards the environmental challenges that we face currently. Taking time to understand what eco-anxiety is and how we can develop effective ways to manage these emotions can help us navigate this experience. Always remember that even the smallest of actions can make a significant difference. By banding together to explore and address environmental concerns, we can all propel ourselves towards a sustainable and unconstrained future for our planet! 

The Importance of Self-Care for Mental Health

Written by: Pansiluni Hasanjana Weerawansa 

In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, taking care of one’s mental health has become more crucial than ever. As of present new challenges and opportunities are making it essential for individuals to prioritise self-care. Self-care involves actively taking steps to promote one’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. While it may seem like a luxury or an indulgence given the current economic crisis in the country, self-care is an utmost necessity for maintaining good mental health. Let’s dive further into why self-care is so important for mental health. 

Primarily, prioritising self-care functions as a proactive strategy in averting mental health challenges. The ever-mounting demands stemming from professional obligations, interpersonal connections, and societal norms have resulted in a substantial escalation of stress levels over recent years. Overlooking self-care can precipitate detrimental consequences such as exhaustion, apprehension, and despondency. Conversely, by consistently participating in self-care endeavours, individuals can effectively mitigate stress and impede the emergence or exacerbation of mental health complications. This encompasses various practices, such as engaging in physical exercise, practicing meditation, immersing oneself in natural surroundings, and pursuing hobbies that foster joy and tranquillity. 

In 2023, the digital age continues to dominate our lives, with constant connectivity and information overload. While technology offers numerous benefits, it can also contribute to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety to a dangerous extent. It has become progressively vital to detach from screens and social media platforms to safeguard one’s mental well-being. Engaging in self-care necessitates establishing limits with technology, designating specific periods or areas devoid of digital and physical distractions, and actively participating in activities that cultivate mindfulness and an awareness of the present moment. This deliberate disconnection allows individuals to restore mental clarity and foster a deeper connection with themselves and their surroundings. 

Furthermore, self-care encompasses maintaining healthy lifestyle habits. In 2023, the connection between physical and mental health is well-established. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep are essential for optimal mental well-being. Exercise releases endorphins, which are known as “feel-good” hormones, which can significantly improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. A nutritious diet provides the necessary nutrients for brain function, while proper sleep enhances cognitive abilities and emotional resilience. By prioritizing these aspects of self-care, individuals can lay a solid foundation for their mental health. 

In addition, it is imperative to recognise the significance of tending to emotional well-being alongside physical self-care. Emotions wield a substantial influence on mental health, and disregarding or repressing them can precipitate emotional distress and imbalances. Engaging in practices that foster emotional well-being, such as expressive journaling, cultivating gratitude, seeking therapeutic support, and nurturing meaningful connections with loved ones, bestows a profound sense of emotional contentment and contributes to overall mental well-being. Additionally, establishing healthy boundaries within relationships and acquiring the ability to assertively decline obligations when necessary, constitute vital facets of self-care that significantly bolster emotional resilience. 

Additionally, self-care in today’s landscape encompasses proactively managing and alleviating stress, given the ceaseless demands and pressures pervading the contemporary world, which can exact a toll on mental health. Engaging in stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing, embracing yoga, immersing oneself in mindfulness meditation, and practicing other relaxation methods facilitates the restoration of serenity and composure. Amidst the frenetic pace of life, it is essential to carve out dedicated intervals for stress relief, thereby preventing the insidious effects of chronic stress on mental well-being. 

Self-care also includes fostering a positive mindset and self-compassion. The world can be filled with negativity, and individuals often face self-doubt, self-criticism, and comparison. Engaging in activities that promote self-love, self-acceptance, and self-esteem can be transformative for mental health. This can include affirmations, positive self-talk, engaging in hobbies that boost self-confidence, seeking support from a therapist or support groups, and practicing self-compassion in times of difficulty. 

In conclusion, self-care is of paramount importance for mental health. As the world continues to present new challenges and stressors, prioritising self-care becomes a necessity rather than a luxury. Taking proactive steps to nurture physical, emotional, and mental well-being can prevent mental health problems, reduce stress, and enhance overall quality of life. By incorporating self-care practices into daily routines and making self-care a priority, individuals can thrive mentally and emotionally in the dynamic world. 

Social Media and the Fear of Missing Out

Written by Pansiluni Hasanjana Weerawansa

In our digitally connected society, social media has seamlessly integrated itself into our daily lives, offering a multitude of benefits while carrying its fair share of drawbacks. Among these concerns, the fear of missing out (FOMO) effect emerges as a prevalent issue. FOMO encompasses the anxiety and unease individuals feel when confronted with others’ exciting experiences on social media platforms.

As social media usage continues to surge, the adverse effects of FOMO on individuals’ mental well-being have become more pronounced than ever before. Social media platforms have cleverly harnessed FOMO as a powerful tool, not only enticing users to join their platforms but also compelling them to remain incessantly engaged. This is often at the expense of their other obligations and responsibilities.

The fear of missing out stems from the relentless exposure to meticulously curated and envy-inducing posts that inundate social media platforms. As we leisurely scroll through our feeds, we are bombarded with seemingly flawless depictions of friends as well as strangers, relishing their best lives, partaking in glamorous events, or embarking on exotic adventures. This visual comparison mentally manipulates you, sparking feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and a looming sense of exclusion.

Extensive research has shown that prolonged exposure to FOMO can inflict adverse consequences on mental health. Individuals plagued by FOMO may find themselves incessantly checking their social media feeds, fearing they might overlook something vital or significant. This insatiable craving for validation and connection can result in heightened stress levels, diminished self-esteem, and even symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Social media platforms, expertly crafted to captivate users, employ manipulative techniques that intensify the experience of FOMO. Algorithms meticulously prioritise content based on user engagement, ensuring a ceaseless stream of captivating posts that perpetuate the fear of missing out on current events or updates from friends. Moreover, influencers and brands adeptly exploit FOMO, skillfully creating an illusion of exclusivity and desirability. Limited-time offers, enticing influencer collaborations, exotic reels and sought-after event invitations fuel a sense of urgency, compelling individuals to partake or make purchases driven by the fear of missing out on extraordinary experiences or products.

The pervasive influence of FOMO on social media platforms carries profound implications for mental health. The perpetual cycle of comparison and exposure to unattainable standards portrayed across social networks can distort one’s self-perception. The pressure to present an impeccable image and maintain an unwavering online presence contributes to heightened anxiety and an insatiable need for validation. FOMO can impede genuine face-to-face social interactions. Individuals tend to get comfortable with online interactions as opposed to physical interactions, hindering their overall confidence when face-to-face interactions are a necessity. Excessive time spent scrolling through social media feeds diminishes opportunities for meaningful real-life connections, which are vital for overall well-being and mental health. This further exacerbates feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Even though self-comparison is an inherent aspect of human nature, youths tend to take this behaviour much further, leading to an incessant urge to meticulously scrutinise their appearance and lifestyle in relation to their peers. Regrettably, popular social media platforms such as Instagram actively foster an environment where users are driven to present themselves and their lives as flawlessly ideal, perpetuating the pressure to maintain a picture-perfect image.

Although social media has firmly established its presence in our lives, individuals can adopt various strategies to mitigate the detrimental effects of FOMO. It is imperative to practise mindful social media usage, setting boundaries and allocating specific time for engagement. Engaging in activities that foster personal well-being and self-care, such as pursuing hobbies or spending quality time with loved ones, can effectively alleviate the impact of FOMO.

Cultivating a healthy perspective on social media is vital. Recognizing that people often present extremely curated versions of their lives and realising that individuals choose to show the best moment in their life is key to understanding that the majority of social media is highly unrealistic. Limiting the impact social media has on us can be done through various ways such as controlling our mindset, limiting screen time, a dopamine detox from social media, working on self-esteem and self-improvement, surrounding ourselves with hobbies and managing our expectations are a few.

In our hyperconnected world, the vicious cycle of fear of missing out on social media significantly influences our mental health to a large extent hindering our overall well-being. The constant exposure to meticulously crafted posts and the manipulative tactics employed by social media platforms can contribute to anxiety, decreased self-esteem, and diminished well-being. It is essential to be aware of these effects and to develop healthy coping strategies to maintain a balanced relationship with social media.