Why Do Plants Improve Our Mood?

The cliched image about someone having a “green thumb” typically involves someone in their backyard, their overalls covered in dirt, hands protected by thick gloves that are rough to the touch. The garden can be filled with colorful plants, various kinds of produce and herbs, or vivid greenery with large leaves. Typically, it can include all three.

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Bringing Some Color In

There are many outlets to take advantage of if you need a distraction that go beyond procrastination purposes. These kinds of situations can include  sitting on public transit, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or those times when anxiety can feel so overwhelming that you it can seem like you’re frozen, itching to do something to make the feeling go away. One of the most simplest and convenience ways to waste a little bit of time and keep yourself busy is through the infinite number of games available through the app stores on your smartphone. Continue reading Bringing Some Color In

Social Media and Its Unhealthy Daily Influence

The SOVA Project is happy to feature this blog post written by one in our team of fantastic SOVA Ambassadors—these are young people who help create meaningful blog posts from adolescents’ perspectives.


Social media is so common nowadays that almost anyone you talk to who has access to a phone or computer has an account of some sort. Social media is not just Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, however, as it takes many forms. For example, email could be considered social media. Google+, LinkedIn, and any other form of an online communication hub is considered  to be social media. Technology has advanced enough to the point of no return. Gone are the days of physical mail and traditional phone calls, as our fast-moving society has fully adapted to the ease and convenience of internet use.

In retrospect, that all sounds great. Social media has made life considerably easier for many individuals and professions. However, it has also made life arguably worse for those same people. Quick and easy methods of communication are great when you’re in a bind, but it has also made face-to-face communication virtually extinct in some cases. Oral communication skills are imperative to living confidently and successfully, no matter what profession you are in. Social media takes away that necessary face-to-face contact, and significantly impedes on individuals’ social lives.

In addition to the decrease in physical human interaction, social media can trigger feelings of longing and jealousy. While most online sharing platforms are meant to be a communal space to share life experiences, people often find themselves longing for what others have. It often becomes a game of who has more to brag about. Instead of being content with your own life, it is easy to find yourself yearning for the life of another.

Humans are social creatures by nature, and human interaction is imperative for the mental well-being of anyone. But what if an individual with social anxiety interacts mostly online? Social media can be good…in moderation. I personally love to see what my friends are up to when I’m unable to see them for extended periods of time. However, when I start to notice it take over my life for a while, or hinder my social life, I made a concerted effort to pull myself away from the screen and find something decidedly more meaningful to do. For example, recently I have been flooded with stress because of my impending graduation. I often find myself flocking to social media for relaxation and comfort, in a strange way. So, to combat that, I have been pushing myself to read more or spending more time with my family when I am stressed. Pulling myself away from a platform that stresses me out even more in the long run has significantly improved my coping abilities, and subsequent happiness.

As mentioned, social media can be good in moderation. But if you find yourself needing time away from it, please take that step. Figure out what is best for your mental wellbeing and act on it. Social media is temporary, as is the joy it can bring. I challenge you to go out of your comfort zone and find joy in something else. No matter what the season, I can always find joy in nature. Find your happiness.


What do you consider to be spending “too much” time on social media? Do you find yourself spending too much time? What about your child?

Addressing One-Sided Friendships

The SOVA Project is happy to feature this blog post written by one in our team of fantastic SOVA Ambassadors—these are young people who help create meaningful blog posts from adolescents’ perspectives.


Yesterday, I discussed my experience with one-sided friendships. I went into detail about how I always checked up on my friends, made an effort to make them feel loved and supported, and was a shoulder for them to cry on. However, my “friends” never reciprocated these same efforts.

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Reciprocated Friendships

The SOVA Project is happy to feature this blog post written by one in our team of fantastic SOVA Ambassadors—these are young people who help create meaningful blog posts from adolescents’ perspectives.


Recently, I have been feeling down because I felt as though the people in my life did not care about me. No one ever checks up on me, and I was always the one reaching out to “friends.” This made me feel like I cared about my friends more than they cared about me, which hurt my feelings. I got so fed up with feeling this way that I decided to express how I felt with them. Most of my friends empathized with me, saying that they did not mean to make me feel that way and that they will attempt to do a better job at reaching out to me.

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Curling Up with a Good Book

There are so many ways to get comfortable with a book and get lost in the words and stories that it contains. You can read in the car during a long journey, in between classes, at the dining table, your bed, the couch, the bath, and so on. There’s the classic physical books that can be compact and slim and easily carried in one hand, or so heavy that you can use it as a weight. E-books like Kindles or Nooks can hold hundreds upon thousands of stories in one small device, providing an endless selection in the palm of your hands. These e-book services are also available as apps, so if you already have a tablet, you can read them on there, or even on your phone.

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Tackling Stigma

 

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The topic about how 
stigma can affect how we view mental illness is not new. The way that people talk about mental illness can not only impact how we view those with mental illness, but how we can view our own. We’ve talked about stigma several times before, because it’s important to change this mindset and the harmful effects that it can have.

There have been many efforts and attempts to change the conversation, especially online. One such way is through the governmentMentalHealth.gov provides content from other government organizations such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and NAMI and uses the site as a resource for information about mental health. One of their primary goals is to tackle the conversation (or lack of) about mental health and create a new one within communities to help normalize it.

One of their pages focuses specifically on stigma, and even more specifically, presents it as a fact sheet. Here, they present a common “myth” about mental health that can contribute to the stigma and a more negative way about how people can handle their mental illnesses. Not only do they cover the myths that people believe in about those who have a mental illness, but they also debunk ones about to help others. These include how thinking that there’s no use in helping others because they’re a “lost cause” and that it’s impossible to prevent. The site also links to external resources with some of their facts to provide more information.

You can check it out here.


What are other myths you can think of about mental health? How do you think people can change the way they talk about mental health? Let us know below in the comments!

Current Habits in Social Media

Yesterday, the Pew Research Center published a new report about teenagers and how they use social media. It can feel like these sorts of reports and the stories that follow can occur way too often (and they kind of do), but they can cover a variety of topics about adolescents and social media, from popular apps to mental health to what kind of content that people prefer to post. These frequent reports can also make sense when considering just how fast technology and social media are, with trends, memes, and viral content changing all the time.

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Concealing my Depression

The SOVA Project is happy to feature this blog post written by one in our team of fantastic SOVA Ambassadors—these are young people who help create meaningful blog posts from adolescents’ perspectives.


I first encountered depression symptoms when I was 11. As a kid who was bullied coming from a broken home with emotionally unavailable parents, these feelings were almost inevitable. We never talked about our feelings in my household, and it hurts me to say to this day to say we still do not. I learned very quickly that in my house my feelings did not matter and were not valid.

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Can Schools Influence Stigma?

Our environments can have a powerful impact on how we view things, especially in how we view the things about ourselves. Because adolescents spent a lot of time in school, their teachers, their classmates, and the content that they learn can influence how they interpret information. This also includes mental health: conversations with peers and the ways that teachers talk about their expectations on students can have subtle, but lasting effects.

Continue reading Can Schools Influence Stigma?