By Chris Adam, Copywriter at HashtagHealth and Part-Time Crisis Counselor
When was the last time you felt lonely? According to a report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, 36% of people surveyed said they felt lonely “frequently,” or “almost all the time,” or “all the time.”
Feelings of loneliness or isolation can be especially difficult for people living with a serious illness. In a story on loneliness, PsychCentral offers several suggestions to help you feel less lonely. Among the suggestions: Build or find an online community that connects with your interests. Online communities offer numerous opportunities for people to share their experiences and connect with others who are going through similar things – and sharing your story can have a tremendous impact on not just you, but others as well.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shares these three reasons for sharing your story of health struggles and recovery:
It helps to reduce negative attitudes and stereotypes,
It may encourage others to seek help, and
It can be a healing and empowering experience for you, too.
So how do you use your own story to help stay connected with others? It can be helpful to think of the acronym STORY:
Who knows your story better than you? Social media can be a great platform for sharing your experiences. There are platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share your written story, and places like Instagram and TikTok to share video stories. Your story – whether about your health struggles or simply your life – can be a source of inspiration for others.
Sharing your story also presents an opportunity to teach. You can share the knowledge you have gained through research, reading, and your own life experiences. As the number of social media platforms has grown, so too has the number of health care professionals using these platforms to share their scientific knowledge and expertise with others. The University of Scranton notes that social media also can be an effective outlet for answering questions related to health care.
Vulnerability has been a hot topic in recent years. Opening yourself up can be freeing and scary at the same time. With so many social media platforms from which to choose, there are options to be open at different levels. Some people share their entire illness journey, while others open up about specific points on their paths. Platforms such as Facebook offer more private venues, such as Facebook groups, for sharing stories with a smaller group of people focused on shared topics.
Being vulnerable also means being real. SAMHSA reminds us that stories are powerful if they are honest and real. The element of realness also helps people easier connect your story to their own.
Finally, just be yourself. Transparency can go a long way in building trust with your audiences and helping them connect with your story.
One thing to keep in mind with sharing your story is that there is no “right level” of detail. You may want to start by sharing a very specific part of your story, or you may begin with an overall social media post that briefly shares the overall story. Whatever you decide, your story can be a powerful tool of encouragement on social media.