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Here’s How You Can Exist On Social Media Without Compromising On Your Mental Health

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This post does not talk about the usual “how you can ace social media”; it addresses something far more crucial.

It is no secret that behind the picture-perfect posts on Instagram and career gurus’ advice on LinkedIn, most, if not all social media platforms are agencies that make many people feel inadequate, insecure and unconfident about their bodies, lifestyles, careers, failures and differences.

In this age, when everyone turns to social media for validation, it is extremely easy to fall into traps of self-criticism and let one’s mental health take a backseat. While I wish otherwise, I believe that it is impossible to create a mechanism covering such a large spectrum that can filter out all the above without taking away freedom of speech and media autonomy.

Social Media
Representative Image.

That being said, I think the gamechanger on how social media affects humans can be — humans. We can all make a personal effort to co-exist in the virtual world and live in peace without pulling each other down and help each other rise. Honestly, it can’t be that difficult. We manage to do it all the time in the real world, don’t we? And we are all the better for it.

I have been a user on four social media platforms for the past 1 year. I am no influencer, just another average person trying to navigate my way into communities that interest me and conversations where I feel I can contribute.

On many occasions, I have found myself stressed due to peer pressure, ridiculously unachievable career advice by influencers and seemingly unreal physical appearances (I know most of the time it is just filters, but we leave no opportunity to self-doubt, do we? The mind wants what it wants) — none of which I can achieve in a hundred years.

And I am not alone. I personally know so many young people who go through similar tumultuous emotions, some more than others. However, I make a constant effort not to get overwhelmed by what I view on social media and via this article, I would like to share some of those ways in the hope that it might be beneficial to those who read it.

Existing On Social Media Without Compromising On Your Mental Health

To begin with, it is of utmost importance that you don’t blindly create profiles on all social media platforms. Instead, choose a few — as few as possible — which you believe can benefit you in some way. The benefit a platform offers should always be more than the cost. The benefit here can be academic/career-oriented/networking/communication with family, and the cost is simply your time (and money in the case of paid platforms).

The next step is to make whichever platform/s you choose a comfortable space for yourself. Before you follow/connect with someone or send friend requests, take a look at the kind of content that person posts and whether it resonates with you or not. If it is irrelevant or makes you feel uncomfortable/stressed, stay away.

Remember — how much value you get out of social media is completely unrelated to how many connections or followers you have.

social media apps
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It is also imperative to understand that every platform is created for a different purpose. Try to figure out if your requirements/interests fit in with the platform’s purpose; otherwise, you would simply be wasting your time. For example, LinkedIn is a professional networking platform for employment-oriented information, not a dating site.

Once you have understood your choice of social media, do not be afraid of sharing content. Unfortunately, especially when it comes to platforms like LinkedIn, young professionals often hesitate about their posts, debating if they have enough experience to share their opinions on any matter.

If you feel you have something to share, go for it, irrespective of whether you doubt you are “qualified enough” or not. Social media is made for human users and every human has different stories and perspectives. There is no right or wrong, bad or good in sharing what’s on your mind, as long as it’s not intentionally hurtful towards another person.

Accept that there will be people who won’t agree with you and write opinions or share pictures that you won’t agree with. Differing opinions are not a crime — they should be treated as conversation starters and push buttons towards building interesting connections.

Do not be nasty on social media — not in the comments sections, not in DMs. I wish people would understand that social media is already triggering for many people to begin with, without getting trolled for sharing what they believe in and how they choose to live their lives. Also, please have the courage to call out and report all trolls/abusers you encounter.

No matter how active you are, normalise taking breaks from social media. I would go as far as saying incorporate breaks into your calendar. Lots of breaks. As many breaks as you need. As many breaks as you want.

Lastly, I can’t emphasise enough on how imperative it is that you practice self-kindness and don’t force yourself to participate or harbour undue stress to keep posting on a platform. Instead, prioritise more tangible entities in your life like your family and friends, work and hobbies. And never forget — social media cannot compensate for the pressure it puts on your mental health, which is why you have to put yourself first.

At the end of the day, it is just a virtual world and it does not define your worth — unless you allow it to.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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