On our podcast ‘Tales That Tethr’, tethr Founder & CEO Matt Zerker interviews entrepreneurs, experts, thought leaders, and regular people about what is means to be a man, the challenges that modern men face, and how to overcome challenges and live life in a more connected and authentic way.
It's more important than ever to focus on your health this November. Whether you're growing a moustache for Movember, establishing a better work/life balance as WFH continues, or taking news breaks as the election approaches, we all need to take care of ourselves.
A few weeks go, we introduced the tethr in-app content feed. After careful consideration, research, and hard work, we were excited to see the feature come to life. If you haven’t already tried it out (or maybe you're reading this on the app right now, hello!), on the content feed you will find mental health and wellbeing podcasts, expert interviews, helpful resources, and peer stories, all in one place.
We didn’t create this feature just because we’re immersed in the men’s mental health field and love sharing what we find (although we do). We’ve added this to tethr because we want to help our members become more mindful consumers of media.
To get a better understanding of the concept, we asked Stephanie Harrison, founder and CEO of the New Happy and positive psychology research expert, to explain what that means:
“Conscious media consumption is about being mindful about both what you consume and how you consume it. It also means focusing on fully engaging on the media consumption while you do it, rather than using it to multitask or to distract yourself from other feelings or challenging situations. When we consume media consciously, we’re able to reap the positive benefits of being connected and engaged with the world, and minimize the challenges.”
Why is it important?
We know that social media can sometimes feel fraught with triggering content and misinformation. It’s not hard to feel overwhelmed or to wonder if you’re enough as you are. “Research has found that the way we use social media really matters,” explains Harrison. “When we use social media to stay connected to friends and loves ones, when we share things that matter to us, or when we engage with building new relationships, it can actually increase our well-being and sense of connection.”
“On the other hand, when we use social media from a place of fear and anxiety — for example, if we are afraid of ‘missing out’ on something or when we feel like we are disconnected if we’re not on social media — it can have harmful effects on our mental well-being. The key is mindful use.”
Psychotherapist and behavior specialist Dr. Steven Rosenberg agrees that it is increasingly important to find a balance. “Today we have more ways of being connected to the Internet than ever before. In fact, we can be connected at all times. This means we can consume a vast amount of information from all different sources.” This isn’t necessarily a negative, but it requires a mindful approach. “Making sure the media you view entertains and enables you to learn something is important.”
How can I be a conscious media consumer?
We developed the content feed with the goal of creating a space where everything is there because we believe it adds value for our members. Sometimes that value may be simple, like making people laugh, but we’re always looking for that positive impact. Just like tethr is a safe space to share and connect with men, we also want it to be a safe space to consume media.
Harrison has a helpful rule for this kind of value-based consumption: “I like to use a rule called “Learn/Connect/Joy” — if I’m learning from the account, using it to build connections or find joy in it, it stays. If not, I either mute the account or unfollow it. There is absolutely no need to follow people or accounts that negatively affect your wellbeing.” Like tethr, the New Happy seeks to create and share content that is valuable and uplifting for conscious readers.
Identify your goals and values
We understand that curating content on tethr doesn’t solve the entire problem. We all have to be mindful out there on the internet. “Certain content will be harmful for anyone, but most of us have to figure out what is harmful for us in this moment. We all have different things that can upset or challenge us depending on our unique circumstances.” suggests Harrison.
Dr. Rosenberg echoed the need for an individual approach: “To be more conscious of the content being viewed, you must identify your goals. Find a balance between media and real life. Choose to view only the things that will enhance what you want to do.”
Make small changes
Anyone who’s ever fallen down a rabbit-hole on Instagram knows that this is easier said than done. But you can start by taking “conscious viewing one step at a time and feel good with your choices,” Dr. Rosenberg adds.
“If you feel that you might have some challenges with the way you use social media, there are a few strategies you can use to help become more mindful. First, consciously curate your social media feed in order to ensure everyone you follow is positively contributing to your well-being,” says Harrison. “Second, practice mindful habits when using social media. Setting a timer or a limit on how long you use it for, checking it only at certain times of the day, and not using it while you’re doing something else are good ways to get started.”
Anyone who practices mindfulness in other areas of their life may recognize that the same principles apply online. At its core, conscious consumption is about intention, says Harrison: if you notice yourself pulling out your phone or computer to distract yourself from your feelings or from your life, pause and instead give yourself a minute or two to check in with yourself.”
However you choose to take care of yourself this month, remember that mental health is a part of your overall health.