Sometimes, a break from a continual feed of doom and gloom has to be generated: where possible, a few thoughts on some timeline cleansing.

Hello and welcome to Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters, our little bit of the Film Stories site where we talk about – as you might have guessed! – mental health and wellbeing.

If you’ve not read one of these pieces before, it’s a place where we write about things that may be affecting you, us, or people around us. We work on simple rules: not every article we run is going to be of use to everyone, but hopefully across this series, there’s something that’s of use to you. And also, comments are very welcome, and appreciated.

Quite a few pieces in this series over the last few months have leaned on social media to a degree for ways to find a bit of light. That in the midst of crappy times, or days where it’s simply hard to find much to enjoy, an idea pops up, and social media – for me at least – has been an unlikely source of it. Given the toxic side of social media, that may come as a surprise. But there’s an upside too.

That’s certainly where I first heard the phrase ‘timeline cleanse’. My social media platform of choice tends to be Twitter, and two or three times a week, in my feed someone will have posted a picture of generally a fluffy animal to cleanse said feed. Twitter does have a habit of making extreme voices loud and hatred normal, although as I’ve argued before, judicious use of block and mute functions is a way to offset 90% of that.

But I like the idea of a cleanse. That a feed has become so doom and gloom, someone posts something completely different and positive – usually a canine or feline – and the conversation instantly changes.

It’s a nice ethos to take away from the screen too, and it’s something I try to do. If I’m having a difficult day for whatever reason, I try and stop and do something different for 20 minutes or so. It might be playing a game for a bit, going for a walk, reading a bit of a book, or even – don’t tell the boss – a brief snooze.

But the crucial thing is it’s something to jolt my headspace. To move away from the negative towards something that’s better for my head.

As always, it’s the kind of suggestion that’s not always possible. But I do think that more often than not, for 20 minutes or so, it’s achievable to not just do more of the same. In the case of social media, to go full circle, posting something positive and/or four legged tends to get replies and acknowledgements that do indeed give the timeline a bit of a wash. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing to do.

Most of us spend our darker moments very much at the coalface of them. We don’t have perspective. We have the same scenery, and seemingly little escape from it. But I’m going to try a timeline cleanse or two. It seems a simple, free and easy thing to do.

Plus, who doesn’t like a half-decent animal picture?

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