Put down your device, switch off your phone and get ready for a digital detox for your mental health.

Young people have been warriors through this pandemic. They may have been driving their parents crazy at home, but they really had no option.

Lockdown imposed huge restrictions on young people’s lives, disrupting education, extracurricular activities, sport and social lives. What felt to many like a bit of a holiday at the beginning, enjoying late nights and lazy mornings as there was no school to attend, bingeing on Netflix and posting lockdown selfies on Instagram until 3am, soon took a turn for the worse.

Exams were cancelled, leaving many students in an anxiety-ridden stretch worrying what the future held for them with no control over what the outcome would be, and with no last-ditch studying attempts to secure their grades. Many felt helpless and angry, and with the recent media coverage of the exam results, it is easy to see why.

To combat boredom and anxiety most young people and teenagers spent most of their time online. Screen time soared, it was the only way to communicate with the world they had been cut off from. At a time when they should be out with friends, having fun, growing up and learning valuable life lessons getting up to all the things their parents warn them not to do, they were stuck at home in their bedrooms glued to their phone or tablet.

While this digital world offered valuable connections for everyone during lockdown, and in many ways was a really positive lifeline, the reality is that social media can have a really negative impact, especially on young impressionable minds.

Negative effects
Social media is well-known to have negative effects on users when it is used without boundaries. It can also be a cruel platform for bullying and can have a serious impact on the way young people see themselves. Scrolling through images of seemingly flawless individuals can take its toll on the young, self-conscious minds of both girls and boys. Body image becomes skewed and self-worth and confidence is lowered, all because these young people are comparing themselves to unrealistic images.

Digital Detox Day
#IAMWHOLE is a mental health campaign fronted by Jordan Stephens (aka Rizzle Kicks) aimed at encouraging young people to speak out, seek help and get support. This year they have launched a world-first collaboration with well-known vlogger and businesswoman Zoe Suggs (founder of Zoella) and handmade cosmetics brand LUSH.

Digital Detox Day will take place on Saturday 5 September and it asks participants to step away from social media for the whole day, taking a time out to focus on their mental health. The project aims to raise awareness of the negative effects that social media can have on our mental health and it hopes to help young people build healthier relationships with these platforms and with their devices.

The week prior to Digital Detox Day will see #IAMWHOLE release a series of discussion panels around five key talking points on Zoe Sugg’s IGTV channel: body image, cyberbullying, anxiety, human connection and setting digital boundaries. On Friday 4 September participants will be asked to draw a circle with the word “OFF” in the middle on the palm of their hand and post it to their social media accounts to signify that they will be switching off the following day.

Talking about the project Jordan Stephens said: “Social media has become such a huge part of all our lives, and I know all too well the negative impact it can have on mental health if we don’t set boundaries. Digital Detox Day is all about taking some time out to reflect, so we can form better relationships with ourselves and our devices. As someone who has really grown up online, Zoe is the perfect person to lead this campaign. I’m proud that #IAMWHOLE is able to partner with both Zoe and LUSH to raise awareness as well as funds for grassroots mental health charities.”

LUSH have confirmed that over 40 of their location across the globe will be participating in Digital Detox Day and to mark the occasion LUSH inventor Jack Constantine and Zoe Sugg have created a limited edition bath bomb, encapsulating Zoe’s happy place of a beachside sunset. All money raised from the bath bomb will go into a und where grants will be available for grassroots mental health organisations.

Zoe Sugg talks commented: “I love social media, it’s incredible in so many ways and it has helped build communities and businesses, and given people a platform in order to share their stories that might not otherwise have been heard. However, as the years have progressed and social media has grown in size, it’s clear that it has its flaws too. Comparison, criticism, cyberbullying, a disconnect from reality and real life. All of these things and how often we are scrolling can have such a negative impact on our mental health. This is why I am so happy to be working with LUSH and #IAMWHOLE on the very first Digital Detox Day campaign, a day to reflect offline about how we live our lives online and to introduce boundaries into our social media usage. I have been a huge fan of LUSH for years so to be able to create a bath bomb for this campaign in order to raise money for grassroots mental health charities has been an absolute privilege and I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy it.”

Visit whole.org.uk to find out more.

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