mental health awareness month graphic

Unplugged and Empowered: iHeartPodcasts’ Top Mental Health and Wellness Hosts Share Tips On Protecting Mental Health

We spend a lot of time online, and while social media can be an avenue for community and connection, it also brings its own set of challenges – from interrupted sleep to higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety. This year, we asked wellness experts across the iHeartPodcast network how listeners can strike a balance between being active and engaged in the era of social media while caring for their mental health. Here’s the advice they shared:

Be Mindful:

This Mental Health Awareness Month, we can all embrace NAMI’s #TakeAMentalHealthMoment campaign, which is about normalizing the practice of taking moments to prioritize our mental health. When we find ourselves waiting in a line or otherwise have a few spare minutes, instead of mindlessly scrolling, it’s beneficial to have even just a mindful minute: Take five deep breaths. List three things you’re grateful for. Or send a friend or family member a quick text with a positive or encouraging message—even just an “I love you!” – Jay Shetty, “On Purpose with Jay Shetty

One of my favorite strategies comes from one of my favorite guests on “The Happiness Lab,” author Catherine Price. In her book “How to Break Up With Your Phone,” she suggests a hack we can use to be more mindful with our technology, which goes by the acronym WWW— which stands for "What for? Why now? What else?" Every time you notice yourself wasting time on a screen, ask yourself WWW— First: what for? What am I using my screen for right now? Then: why now? What feelings caused me to pick up my phone? Finally: what else? What am I missing out on by using my phone? Practices like WWW can help you become a bit more mindful of what you are and aren't getting out of your phone use. – Laurie Santos, “The Happiness Lab

Be Meaningful:

“It’s very natural when on social media to compare yourself to others, and to think the life of others is better than yours. Whenever you are feeling like you need to protect your mental health, I suggest taking a pause from the social comparison game and recognize that personal meaning is what will lead you to a personally better life, not comparing your own life to others. Seek out transcendent experiences, such as getting out in nature, going to a museum, helping a stranger, or calling your Mother. Despite all the connections, social media paradoxically often makes us feel more isolated, whereas engaging meaningfully with your everyday life helps you feel a greater sense of connectedness with the world and other people.” – Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, “The Psychology Podcast

Every single thing we allow into our senses affects our mind, from what we eat to what we hear and see.The algorithm will share more of what you watch, so type in the content you WANT to see more of and begin to curate what you scroll through. Choose things that uplift you, make you feel good about yourself and see others in a positive light. What you watch and hear becomes part of you and becomes the lens you see the rest of your day with. – Radhi Devlukia, “A Really Good Cry

Set Boundaries:

I think people often think of boundaries as only applying to their in-person relationships. But we also need boundaries with ourselves around our social media consumption, usage and interactions. Set time limits for yourself, when you find yourself excessively comparing yourself to others or in a spiral, switch off for an hour, or longer if you can. Unfollow accounts or people who make you view yourself negatively and when you see hate, like troll comments or people tearing others down, leave positivity. Online communities are fantastic if they remain kind, productive and respectful spaces. – Jemma Sbeg, “The Psychology Of Your 20s

For most of us, simply trying to unplug from social media and the digital world is not a realistic answer. Our work may require us to be online, that’s where we catch up with friends and family, and there can be lots of useful information, healthy socializing, and delightful videos of capybaras taking steam baths, which just speaking personally here, really benefit my mental health. Being in my body, noticing how it feels, has helped me to step back and set down my device. It’s something I have actively practiced and seen the usefulness of, which is what makes it a bit easier to do each time. I think it is also helpful to learn about how our own negativity bias can be played upon by intentionally upsetting posts, how rage farming works and especially if you are feeling low and exhausted, how harmful online rumination can be. In those moments you might need help from a partner or friend, who can with the help of mobile apps designed to help to lock you out of certain apps after an allotted amount of time. – Kathryn Nicolai, “Nothing Much Happens & Stories From The Village Of Nothing Much

Here are a few tips on how we can protect our mental health in the social media or digital age: First, we can separate our personal and professional lives online. We can choose not to follow or accept friend requests from co-workers or other acquaintances. Second, remember, it’s not just social media, it’s the people we follow. You have the freedom to curate your feed. If you’re not comfortable unfollowing someone, you can mute them and decide how you want to engage with their content. This autonomy can help you maintain a healthier digital space. Lastly, we can stop being constantly connected or start the day offline. – Nedra Tawwab Glover, “You Need To Hear This”

Prioritizing your mental wellbeing can be a challenge. iHeart’s wide array of health and wellness podcasts are here to support every unique journey. Whether it’s tuning into a relaxing short story or hearing actionable advice from the experts, there’s something for everyone looking to create meaningful self-care habits this month and beyond. To learn more, check out our mental health podcasts HERE.