The negative effect of social media on mental health has been heavily documented, but a small study has found that there could be benefits to one particular online practice.
Researchers out of Lancaster University analysed the trend of “digital daily practices”, which involve making a daily commitment to one thing – whether it be working out, eating breakfast or making art – and sharing it on social media.
They tasked participants with posting a photo-a-day on Blipfoto for two months, they recorded the image they took, what captions they included and how they interacted with others on the social media platform. Through interviews, researchers discovered that the practice had a positive impact on wellbeing through self-care, community interaction, reminiscence and mindfulness.
They reported that it encouraged some subjects to exercise more, engage with their environment and gave them a greater sense of purpose and achievement.
“It’s really good to be able to take that five minutes every day to do something slightly creative, which I enjoy doing and I think is good for wellbeing,” one participant said. “It’s positive in that it gives me something to look for. Like I was saying earlier, with looking for novel experiences. I think that’s very good for someone’s well-being. So there’s a lot that does contribute to it.”
The community aspect of the practice was also highlighted by some participants as beneficial in dealing with loneliness and grief.
“Rather than saying that photo-a-day can be prescribed to improve wellbeing, by looking at it within the wider sphere of everyday life and via the lens of practice theory, we can think about the interlinked and complex nature of the practice,” the researchers state. “Its effect arises from the way people come to attach meaning to it and connect it to other practices. By definition, this is an active process of meaning making, in which a new conceptualisation of well-being emerges.”
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