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Social Media Impact on Wellbeing - Photographs' Role in Happiness

by Corinne Sweet(more info)

listed in mind matters, originally published in issue 237 - April 2017

WhiteWall.com, the online photo lab, has partnered with celebrity psychologist Corinne Sweet (author of the best-selling Mindfulness Journal) to research the negative impact social media has on wellbeing and the importance of our own physical photographs for happiness.

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Display your Way to a Happy Home

  • Research reveals that personal printed photos hold the secret to mental wellbeing;
  • 93% of people experience strongly positive emotions when viewing printed photographs.

With the ever growing popularity of social media sites, there’s a temptation to think that the natural resting place for all of our snaps should be on a screen. However, a new study has emphasized the important role that displaying printed photographs around the house can play in promoting happiness.

The research, commissioned by online photo lab WhiteWall, showed that while 22% of us tend to check social media more than ten times a day, over half (55%) claim to experience negative emotions whilst doing so and almost a third of people (30%) claim to be totally overwhelmed by the torrent of images online. In sharp contrast, 93% of people have a strongly positive reaction to viewing printed photographs.

Psychology expert Corinne Sweet, agrees with the findings, stating that “by being more selective and surrounding ourselves with personal images ‘in real life’, it may well help us to feel more satisfied and happier in our day-to-day lives.” Here, Corinne shares with us her top ten tips for using personal snaps to make a happy home.

Childhood Haunts

Select an image of a happy place in your childhood, and have it on display. Favourite old images can evoke an array of nostalgic emotions and create a positive mood boost.

Display your Loved Ones

Get a selection of images of significant people in your family and make a collage or a picture, for your living room. It’s important to be reminded of important individuals who give you a sense of connection.

Embrace Reality

Don’t compare yourself constantly with online social media images - you will lower your mood if you are constantly competing with other people’s photographs and experiences.

Inspirational Snaps

Print images you find inspiring: of the sea, of the country, animals, and display them around your home, either in frames or simply on objects.

Shared Albums

Make collaborative albums of special events, such as holidays or weddings, for viewing with family and friends. This is a great, inclusive way of sharing your treasured memories with loved ones.

Photo Gifts

Make gifts for special people of significant prints for birthdays or celebrations, as they will be great reminders of good times past. Also, display photos that you receive as gifts!    

Family Records

We’ve long known that thumbing through the family album can give us a mood boost. Collections of carefully selected images that remind you of loved ones can be extremely soothing in difficult times and can help to heal grief.

Personalize the Office

Make a home of your workspace by displaying an image of your child or a special loved one. It will raise your mood and remind you of your good relationships every time you look at them.

Remember Pets

Many people take comfort in displaying pictures of past pets. If you have a special pet, who has died, it is an image that can be looked upon with fondness, to remind family members of that special bond.

Mix It Up

Remove pictures when you feel you need to move on - it’s fine to be selective, and to change things as your life opens and develops. It’s only human. There are a huge number of print options to choose from which will also help to create a refreshed look using your new images.

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The Power of Print in Online World

  • Social media users sinking in volume of ‘meaningless’ photos online;
  • Secret to happiness: Printed photos revealed as key to revisiting memories;
  • Yet one in ten 18-24 year olds have never printed a single photograph.

While social media has become a go-to for sharing photos with family and friends, results show that the endless stream of ‘idyllic’ images is actually causing a nightmare for those on the other side of the screen.

Rather than sharing treasured memories, posting photos on social media appears to be a form of online one-upmanship, with more than two thirds of people (68%) admitting that they never look at their online images again once they’ve checked for likes and comments, quickly losing or forgetting altogether the meaning attached to them.

According to the study, the pursuit of ‘likes’ online leads many to feel left out and disconnected from friends in the real world, creating a feeling of anxiety that our own experiences aren’t as impressive as those of our peers. More than half (55%) of the 1,000 social media users surveyed admitted to experiencing an array of negative emotions when going online, yet nearly a quarter of (22%) continue to check social media more than 10 times every day, with men revealed to be the biggest users.

In a stark comparison, when asked to reveal their emotional response after viewing their printed photographs, a landslide 93% had a strongly positive reaction. For two thirds of respondents (62%) the driving sentiment was happiness as a result of revisiting special memories attached to their real, personal prints.

The difference between emotions experienced when viewing printed and online photographs is largely down to motivations. Unlike the online world, which incites an obligation to impress your peers, printing images seems to be a much more personal affair. The vast majority (83%) of respondents select the images they would like to print, carefully based on displaying and cherishing them for a long time and because they make themselves feel good by relating to important memories. 

What may surprise the one in ten 18-24 year olds revealed to have never printed a single photograph, is the fact more than a third (34%) said they actually felt closer to loved ones by being able to see them in photos displaying in the home, in contrast to the disconnect experienced online.

Psychologist Corinne Sweet comments upon the outcome of the research:

“A printed photo is a lasting image which can evoke all sorts of nostalgic emotions and create a positive mood boost. It’s important to be reminded of significant people, places, experiences and things, as it gives us a sense of permanence and purpose, as well as connection.  Indeed, the biochemical lift we get from looking at an old but important photograph is important for our well-being. 

“Constantly comparing ourselves to others online is problematic, especially in our fast-moving, modern world.  Being bombarded by images of jollity and conviviality can lead to feelings of being ‘less than’ and ‘left out’, which can impact severely on self-esteem. The research released by WhiteWall.com today provides opportunity for perspective. By being more selective and surrounding ourselves by personal images ‘in real life’, it may well help us to feel more satisfied and happier in our day-to-day lives.”

About WhiteWall

WhiteWall is a trademark of the Berlin-based Avenso GmbH, which has run the photo lab as well as the online photo service WhiteWall.com since 2007. An official partner of the FEP (Federation of European Photographers), WhiteWall is valued for outstanding quality among professional and hobby photographers alike. With its LUMAS brand, Avenso GmbH has been democratizing the art market for over ten years with hand-signed limited editions by renowned artists from all around the world. All of the photographic works and products of Avenso GmbH are exclusively produced in, and shipped from, the WhiteWall photo lab in Frechen, near Cologne, Germany. For more information and print-ready images, please contact Whitewall.com on Tel.: +44 (0)20 3411 1846;  info@whitewall.com   www.WhiteWall.com

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About Corinne Sweet

Corinne Sweet AHPP  is a member of AHPP (Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners), is supervised by Spectrum Therapy where she trained extensively in ‘Humanistic Psychology’, including in Formative Psychology and Gestalt. She has a certificate in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) from the Centre for Stress Management, and a Diploma in Psychology from the MSc course in ‘Human Development’ ( Jungian Psychology) from Birkbeck College, University of London. Corinne trained as a Holistic Life Coach with ‘Coaching by De’Sign’. She is particularly interested in working on addiction, abuse, stress, parenting, self-esteem, money issues, performance stress and writer’s block.  

Corinne Sweet appears regularly on TV and Radio as a Psychologist Spokesperson and may be contacted via Tel: 07973 219673; corinne@corinnesweet.com   www.corinnesweet.com

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