Social/ Relationship Wellness 2020
How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Social Media
1. Schedule your social media screen time
Research has indicated that prolonged use of social media can contribute to negative outcomes, such as depression and low self-esteem.1 On average, people can spend upwards of two hours a day on social media. Especially during the COVID-19 era, it can be very easy to find yourself drawn into increased use of social media – you’re already spending most of your days in front of the screen anyways!
If you find that you are spending too much time on social media, consider the following strategies to develop better habits:
2. Have a positive mindset when using social media
When using social media, consider viewing other posts as inspiration rather than in a negative light. Oftentimes, people will post their successes and happy moments – seeing such posts can elicit feelings of envy or jealousy. It is important to remember that social media only offers a snapshot of a person’s life, and that there are always other events going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about! Be selective about who you follow and unfollow accounts that do not bring positivity or inspiration.
3. Think before posting!
Be very careful about what you’re sharing with the world. Before you upload your post, think about what message you are trying to spread. It is important to maintain professionalism, use reputable sources of information, and to try to be positive!
4. Take breaks.
Remember to check in with yourself and put your mental health first. It’s okay to take a step back from social media and just focus on YOU. Log out from or disable your social media accounts and just return to the 3-dimensional world. Spend more time with your family or go outdoors. Maybe pick up a new hobby. The world is your oyster :)
Pantic I. Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014;17(10):652-657. doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0070
Maintaining relationships outside of medical school
Medical school can be a busy four years and as students, we can easily get sucked into a lifestyle where all we do is eat, sleep and breathe medicine. However, this mentality can make it difficult to sustain the relationships that we have outside of medical school. Often, our friends and family outside of the medical field are not familiar with the experiences that we have. For these reasons, we may start feeling as though we've lost common ground with them.
So how do we maintain these relationships? Like any relationship, the key to its success lies in making an active effort. This means that we must prioritize keeping in touch with our loved ones outside of medical school. In order to do this, we may need to set expectations for ourselves and make it a personal goal to call or to see them a certain number of times per month. Having a more passive attitude could instead lead to extended periods of time where we don't have contact with the world outside of medicine. Going further, when we do make time to maintain these relationships, we must spend that time with our loved ones meaningfully. We have to make it a point to ask the other person how they’re doing, what's going on with their lives and to have conversations about topics that they are familiar with. When we live inside this bubble of medicine and have it as our sole topic of conversation, it can alienate our friends and family, who do not feel like they are a part of it. Additionally, if we do need to talk about it with them, it is important to remain patient when we need to explain how things work in medicine.
The four years that we spend in medical school can be challenging and without the love and support of our friends and family, it would be even more difficult to take care of our mental health. Having loved ones outside of the medical field can ground us and offer us a different perspective when we are going through a difficult time. Not only that, but these individuals can remind us of our unique strengths and passions that exist outside of our medical careers. These parts of ourselves are important to remember when we are struggling with school - it is important to remember that we are still loved, valuable and whole outside of our careers.
The Importance of Setting Boundaries
Why set boundaries
It goes without saying that we medical students often struggle with perfectionism as we work in high-pressure settings where we are constantly scrutinized and evaluated. Setting boundaries can evidently be easier said than done: we fear appearing uninterested, selfish, inappropriate or indifferent. Some may also feel guilty and harbor this need as we dread it may imply that our relationships as flawed, unhealthy or unenjoyable. It is easy to forget that setting boundaries is actually a sign of healthy relationships given it is a form of clear communication and allows us to work on our confidence, individuality and autonomy. It is also a form of self-care that is crucial to avoid feeling burnt out, distracted or overwhelmed, which may push us to close ourselves off or prevent us from spending quality time with others, and to avoid feeling resentment towards others for not comprehending our needs.
Setting boundaries is also harder than ever in the context of COVID-19, where we seem to be expected to always be home, have extra time on our hands and be readily available for others. With the increasing amount of screen time, online events and meetings, our presence and availability may be perceived to be just one click away. Some may also have the pressure of being relied on to take care of a close one or having to share their quarantine space with others, making it especially vital to try to find some time to recharge and to reflect on our own needs.
How should I go about setting boundaries?
Early on in our training, we are taught to use the sandwich approach to offer feedback. The method, which involves “sandwiching” statements that may appear as criticism between appreciative comments, can also serve us well when we try to voice our needs without offending our partners, friends or colleagues. As such, stating our needs and limits can be counterbalanced with reaffirmations of appreciation for the relationship and, if the context allows, with suggestions of compromise or alternative solutions. In all cases, outlining what the consequences are if our boundaries are crossed is essential and further supports our case. Following through on these said consequences is equally important to drive one’s point home.
In these trying times, being socially distant should also hopefully give way to more space and understanding to set boundaries: we should stay mindful that we are all adapting to different work spaces, times and routines, and that we are all struggling with the small (if any) amount of alone and self-care time we are left with.
For those looking for more tips, the following article outlines 5 effective ways one can say no: https://www.aafp.org/fpm/1998/0700/p71.html
Physical activity is an essential component of maintaining our wellbeing and wellness during medical school. One great company that we all should try out is Adidas Runtastic! This is a mobile fitness company that also comes in the form of a mobile application called Adidas Runtastic Running App. This app allows everyone to track their activity over days, weeks, and months, and use training logs, detailed data analysis, comparisons to other users and other fitness-related activities and resources.
This is app is particularly great because it enables us to track our distance, time, speed, elevations, calories burned, and other statistics that are trackable and important to assess to the quality of our workouts and physical activity. App users are also able to get feedback from a voice coach in the running app. Another amazing benefit of this app is the fact that is can be set-up to be goal orientated. If you are a person who needs to set goals to be productive, then you can choose daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly goals! You can also set distance, frequency, and personal goals about yourself and your health.
Runtastic also enables us to improve certain CANMED roles including collaboration! Through this app, we can create groups and run with friends as a community and even join fantastic events hosted by Adidas Runtastic.
Although it is wintertime and it may be too chilly to run this season, this app can be used with a treadmill at home or at the gym. Or if you are feeling athletic and extremely motivated, bundle app, put on some slip-proof running shoes and head out.
Link to Adidas Runtastic https://www.runtastic.com/
Bunch! and Body for Blogilates
This is a great app to stay connected with friends while being entertained. The best part about the app is that you can see your friends and their reactions while playing games. The app offers a variety of games, ranging from Pictionary, strategy, puzzles, card, and action games. However, since some games have to be downloaded and require larger storage capacity, users may be reluctant to use this app compared to its popular competitor (House party). In addition, the transition between downloading the app to downloading additional games can be unexpected and disappointing for some users. I experienced some lag between my feedback input and the output, but it was not a major delay in the input-output time to decrease the quality of experience. One limitation of the app is that you cannot play the games alone, neither can you play the games with users outside of your own contacts.
For more information, visit: https://bunch.live/
Body by Blogilates!
This app is very user-friendly. It provides a convenient menu that includes a home page, your calendar, workouts available, and a profile that allows you to track your progress in a monthly period. It does come with a free 7-day trial; however, there is a monthly subscription fee of $5.49 thereafter. This is a great app during the pandemic as all you really need is a workout mat or a soft carpet to complete the workouts. There are also challenges on the app that allow you to focus on a certain group of muscles in your body in a limited time period, which is good to keep users motivated. In addition, there are workout programs tailored towards various levels, ranging from beginner to more advanced users. For users with limited time, the app offers 5 to 15-minute workouts. The videos provide detailed instruction of workouts and they are easy to follow.
For more information, visit: https://www.blogilates.com/surprise-introducing-the-body-by-blogilates-app/
Codenames and Cards Against Humanity
Game Review: CODENAMES
Two years ago, on a Christmas Eve Walmart Run to buy snacks and drinks for my annual family get together, I happened to scan the boardgames wall. Maybe I could introduce the group to a new game this year? The compact orange box seemed to call my name. That was my first introduction to Codenames.
Since this moment two years ago, this game has become a staple at all family game nights, especially the After Dark version. Who doesn’t enjoy some crude humour once in a while? But when the lockdown started, our weekly/biweekly game nights were put on hold indefinitely. Just like a bad caffeine withdrawal post exam period, I was having difficulty filling my weekends without starting another family feud over a boardgame. One month into lockdown, I came across a website offering this game online. Would the dark days really come to an end? Read below for my amateur review on Codenames, virtual platform.
Codenames, Online: https://www.horsepaste.com
Game Rules: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQVHkl8oQEU
- Easy to learn. All you have to do is watch the 3-minute YouTube video and you’re all set. The game really boils down to:
- As Spymaster: Give a one-word clue to team
- As team: Use the one-word clue to guess the correct matching words
- Easy online platform. The online horsepaste (Yup! that’s the name) platform is easy to use, easy to navigate. The gameboard is automatically generated, just share your game link with your friends, select your role at the bottom, and enjoy!
- Social. It’s a great way to have a laugh with friends or family and it allows a large group of people to play together. The real fun comes when the Spymaster has to explain their thought process on choosing a connector word between three seemingly obscure words, all the while yelling “How did you not see that!” “Please, just pick the right words!”
- Challenging. Being Spymaster is not easy job, even 007 would have a hard time connecting the dots. Not only do you have to finds ways to connect words on the grid, you have to ensure that you don’t pick a clue that can be connected to an assassin word, eliminating your team all together. OR WORSE, connecting to a word on the opposite team. There will be no redemption after that.
- Learning Curve. For the same reason this game can be very fun, becoming acquainted with the Spymaster role takes some time. You have to give a one-word clue that relates to one or more cards, ensuring that this clue cannot be connected to cards on the other team. At the beginning, this takes some time and can cause long pauses in-between turns as the Spymaster comes up with a word. The fun and laughter associated with this game may only begin once all players have conquered this challenge.
- Unbalanced configurations. Just by the luck of the draw, one team may get words that are easy to link together and can connect 4 words in one go, while the other team struggles to connect “HAIRY” “PLANE” “BUCKET” “FOUR LEAF CLOVER”. This can make the game feel unbalanced at times, with one team winning rather quickly and the other not having a fighting chance. It’s possible that one team may get all their clues relatively quickly, leaving this game without the “neck-in-neck” finale build-up experience.
Click it or Skip it?
My final verdict— click it. Click on the horsepaste link and give it a go. The online platform is user friendly and the game doesn’t require a long lead up. You will not have to sit through 30 minutes of instructions. It is a great way to connect with friends in a socially distanced manner, while recreating the same in-personal engaging experience!
Game Review: CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY
When lockdown started in Mid-March and I was pulled from clinical duties, I found myself turning to shows and movies to cope with the stress and uncertainty associated with the pandemic in general as well as its impact on my medical training. I quickly exhausted my long list and shows and movies, and went on a hunt for games to play online with friends. During this deep dive, I found an online website where I could play Cards Against Humanity, a staple game for most people. Read below for my amateur review on Cards Against Humanity, virtual platform.
Cards Against Humanity, online: https://cardsagainstonline.com
Game Rules: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eRjn4Ken0c
- Simple to play. This is a simple game that is easy to learn. It really boils down to two cards:
- Black Cards: Question or Fill-in-the-blank cards
- White Cards: Used to complete the black cards. Answer the question, complete the sentence, or fill in the blank.
- Easy online platform. The online platform is easy to use, easy to navigate. Start a game, share the link, and enjoy.
- If you play with the right crowd, the game is super fun. Playing with friends who are willing to take risks with their card choices will make this came intensely fun. The charm of the game is the unique and often absurd card pairings, which can throw you into a fit of laughter.
- You can control the Game Duration. You only have to commit for as long as the game remains fun. Stop the game whenever you’ve had enough, announce the winner (because that’s what it’s about after all), and move on to whatever is next.
- Insensitive Topics. These cards touch on sensitive and taboo topics like racial issues, and sexual conduct. Because of the insensitive nature of the cards, it can make for some awkward situations and encourage trivializing serious societal issues.
- Gets old quick. The online platform only has so many black cards, which are the questions/fill-in-the blank cards. Once you’ve gone through these, the game loses its novelty.
- Some pairings simply make no sense. Some white cards are just not funny. After many rounds holding onto these boring white cards, it comes time to discard them so you can get obtain new ones. By proxy, some rounds end up being filled with card pairings that make no sense, and you bear through them in hopes that drawing new cards will make future rounds more fun.
Miss house parties and game nights? Want to have fun with your friends, but don’t want to risk having the police knock at your door?
Join your friends on Houseparty!
Houseparty is a fun social networking app that lets you video chat with your friends and family and play games with them. You and up to 10 of your friends can meet in a “room”, which you can choose to lock or leave unlocked (if you feel like you want to host an open house party 😉). Not only is it a great way to have some face-to-face time with those you have been separated from, but you can play games with them on the same platform! The app offers games and activities like Karaoke, Pick Me!, UNO, Word Racers, Heads Up!, Trivia, Chips and Guac, Quick Draw! And Magic 8 Ball! They have also recently added a feature where you can video chat while playing Fornite.
Given social gatherings will unlikely be allowed for a while, Houseparty is a great way to relax, have fun and to make sure you stay connected with your close ones in these unprecedented times.
Give it a try yourself! Access/download Houseparty at the following links:
For more info: https://houseparty.com/
Online board games
Number of players: 2-4
This is the quintessential online game for the classic monopoly lover. Although the graphics may seem a little primitive, this version of monopoly is guaranteed to offer hours of fun (and fury?!) with your friends. What I love about this version of monopoly is that instead of having your typical properties (e.g. oriental avenue, boardwalk), the properties are instead tech companies (clever isn’t it?!). If you’ve ever dreamt of conquering the tech world, well here’s your chance! As you can see in the board above, you can land on and own companies such as Youtube, Hulu, eBay and more. This game is also super customizable – you can alter the amount of starting cash for players and even set a limit to the number of total turns in a game before it declares a winner based on net worth (good for time constrained groups). The only downside to this website is the ‘join a public game’ feature. If you’re looking to play with some strangers, you’re probably better off waiting for paint to dry. It’s best to always have a group of friends handy when you’re looking to play a rousing game of webopoly! You can create your own private room for your group, set a password and even pause or return to the game if the group gets too exhausted from all the bartering. Happy haggling!
Number of players: 5-10
If you love games filled with intrigue and betrayal (e.g. among us, mafia), then Secret Hitler is the perfect game for you and your friends. This game is set in 1930’s Germany, where players are secretly divided into two teams – liberals and fascists (including a secret Hitler). Will the fascists install Hitler as the leader, or will the liberals oust them and prevent Hitler from taking power?! You can read the rules to the game here . This game is guaranteed to provide hours of fun for you and your friends. Similar to mafia, people have to discuss and use strategy to figure out who’s who and play others to achieve their own agenda. So, if you’re playing this game, it would probably be a good idea to have a zoom/discord/skype call running in the background. Will you be able to trick your friends?!
Scener – Virtual Movie Theater
If you’re someone who misses going to the movies, Scener, the perfect virtual theater, exists just for you! In this theater, the biggest perk is that you’re allowed to bring all of your snacks from home, without having to hide them under your jacket.
Lockdown doesn’t mean that you have to stop having movie dates with your friends! Virtual movie nights can be really fun and gone are the days where friends need to count down together on Skype in order to synchronize the start of a movie.
One particular Google Chrome extension that is just absolutely awesome, is Scener. Scener allows you to host private watch parties for up to 10 friends and is compatible with several popular streaming services, such as Netflix, Disney+, hulu, prime video and many more! (note: you can also copy and paste a custom link to any streaming site that is not explicitly stated as compatible for Scener). Another advantage that Scener has over its popular rival, Netflix Party, is that it incorporates live video feed of the members in the watch party. This component makes it almost feels like you’re all watching it together in one room!
The best part? It’s completely free and it works well, as long as each individual in the watch party has a membership account for the given streaming service being used. Next time you want to have a virtual movie date, just download the Scener chrome extension and you’re ready to go! To download it, click here .
Skribbl.io is an online game that is great to play with friends while socially distanced. This game consists of several rounds, where one player is responsible for creating a drawing, while the remaining players guess what the drawing represents. When assigned to draw, the player will be provided with three words to choose from; this role rotates between players every round. More points are awarded to the player drawing if more people are able to guess what the drawing is. For the other players, increased points are earned for guessing correctly and faster than the other guessers. Furthermore, at the top of the screen there is a line with a certain number of dashes at the top, indicating the number of letters in the word that players are aiming to guess. One letter is slowly revealed at a time, serving as a hint f players are stumped. Players have an unlimited number of guesses, but there is a time limit, adding a speed component to the game!
Pros :This game is easy to both play and organize, making it a convenient choice for a social night with friends and/or classmates. This game can also be played while simultaneously using an online platform to have a group call (eg. zoom), in order to chat with friends while playing. You are also able to customize the number of rounds and the length of each round, allowing you to make the game as long or as short as you would like!
Cons :Sometimes the selection of words provided can be unfamiliar to the person drawing or the players guessing, making that specific round increasingly difficult. However, this occurs pretty infrequently from my personal experience. There is also an option to include custom words in the game before creating it, which can help with avoiding this issue. Additionally, if you take too long to choose a word when responsible for drawing, the game will automatically choose a word for you, which may not end up being ideal.
Overall :Skribbl.io is a really fun game that encourages creativity and social engagement. Playing this game allows you to connect with classmates who may be spread out across various cities, considering the context of predominantly online learning due to the current pandemic. Even if you can’t seem to gather a group of friends to play, you may play with others online, which allows for a great way to stay socially connected!
App/Games Review: Strava and Among Us
App Review: Strava
Simply put, Strava is an exercise version of social media. In its most basic form, you can use Strava to record GPS traces of the routes you run and bike, and subsequently share those workouts as posts. For enthusiastic users, these workouts aren’t just limited to running or biking, but include a long list of activities such as hiking, skiing, swimming, kayaking and much more. There are additional features such as posting pictures, completing challenges and joining clubs. You can also link Strava to sync activities you do on your smartwatch or platforms like Zwift for virtual cycling. The app is indeed free, but a paid upgrade (Strava subscription) exists for more advanced features like detailed analyses of your workouts and comparing your results on “segments”, popular portions of roads and trails.
As a fitness app, Strava encourages me to exercise daily and without a doubt, contributes to wellness through promoting regular physical activity. However, there are other ways I use Strava that contribute to my social wellness and wellness in general. The most obvious is that as a social platform, I’m able to connect with friends through exercise. Popular running routes or biking routes that I see my friends do will inspire my next run or bike ride. Under circumstances when we cannot see each other in-person, my friends and I cheer each other on and share positive encouraging messages, especially when we see each other completing hard or long workouts. In some ways, Strava also provides a platform for a particularly unique form of mindful reflection and journaling. To elaborate, when the weather is lovely outside and I have more free time, I find myself doing long bike rides or runs. On the flip side, when the weather is poor or I’m pressed for time, I find myself doing short home workouts or simultaneously spinning on an indoor bike trainer/stationary bike while doing Zoom calls. In addition to objective measures of effort (heart rate and power), Strava lets you mark your perceived exercise exertion. I find that looking back on these trends in my exercise patterns from week-to-week, or differences in perceived exertion and objective measures of exertion allow me to reflect on my own well-being and track how that changes over time via documenting my workouts!
Games Review: Among Us
In recent months, Among Us has truly exploded. This is easily reflected in its recent popularity amongst video game content creators like YouTube gamers and Twitch streamers. Among Us is a multi-player strategy game that integrates teamwork, deductive reasoning, stealth and deceit. It’s a social deduction game similar to Mafia/Werewolf and board games like Bang!, Avalon and Secret Hitler; these are all games I love playing with friends. Unsurprisingly during the pandemic, I have hopped on the Among Us bandwagon to fill the gap in my much-needed board games nights. Among Us exists as both a mobile app and desktop game. Among Us takes place on a spaceship where players are either Crewmates (“good”) or Imposters (“bad”). Crewmates aim to complete tasks around a map and eliminate Imposters. Meanwhile, Imposters secretly sabotage the spaceship and kill Crewmates before the tasks can be completed. The games are exciting and unpredictable! Whenever I’m doing virtual social hangouts these days, I’m quick to suggest Among Us!
Virtual Meditation Groups
Trying to learn a new skill and sticking to it when you’re still in its uncomfortable, beginner stages can be the hardest part! Meditation is one of those activities that can be very rewarding and that many people want to try, but have a hard time sticking to. Lucky for us, online resources are abundantly available for all kinds of activities these days! In fact, there are many websites and apps that can help you find a meditation community if that is something you are looking for. Having a community can make meditating an unexpectedly social activity and it also helps to keep us accountable to practicing regularly.
Source: Mind Oacis
Headspace: If you subscribe or would like to subscribe to Headspace Plus, there is a group meditation feature called Everybody Headspace that has sessions starting every 30 minutes (at the start of the hour and halfway through the hour.
Insight Timer: Insight timer has thousands of different meditation groups that you can join! Some are more forum based while others are more virtual sessions based.
To access the material from 2018, please see this link
To access the material from 2019, please see this link