A Happy Accident: The Mental Health Benefits of Bookstagram by Emily Waller

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[Note from FrolicWe are so excited to have Instagrammer Emily Waller guest post on the site today. Take it away Emily!]

Thinking about it now, it’s hard to believe a short two years ago the term ‘bookstagram’ had not yet entered my vocabulary. I didn’t know it then, but as a prolific reader living in an age of ever-increasing social media use, it was only a matter of time before I would stumble across Instagram’s wonderful bookish community. That stumble came in May of 2017, and in hindsight, I’m surprised it took me as long as it did to realise the fusion of books and Instagram was actually a ‘thing’.

In the years leading up to my bookstagram discovery, I had never been overly active on social media. It’s not that I had anything against it; I just felt my time could be utilised more productively. It wasn’t until the end of my first year of university that I lost my Instagram virginity, almost four years after the app was released. I’d finally succumbed to the hype of this photo sharing phenomenon and created a personal account from which the odd sunset snap (wonky horizon and all) would grace the feeds of my family and friends.

Whilst I enjoyed the photo sharing capabilities of the platform, it didn’t take long before the monotony of scrolling through countless images of fake internet personas began to set in. I knew with unshakable certainty the people in those over-saturated selfies weren’t anywhere near as happy as they were making themselves out to be and I just didn’t care what the girls I met in high school were eating for breakfast. The novelty of Instagram was waning fast and it wasn’t until a year after completing my degree that I uncovered a very different side of the platform.

 

Upon graduating university, my life had entered a tumultuous period. A mixture of work and personal struggles engulfed my existence as I ventured into the world after sixteen straight years of education. Set-backs swirled around in spades and ‘paddle hard, go nowhere’ seemed to become my new life motto. Spiraling into darkness, I retreated to the one pastime that had always comforted me through thick and thin: reading.

In pursuit of an enthralling novel, I began perusing the internet for book recommendations when on a whim I decided to search for new release titles on Instagram. And boy, I was not prepared for what I found! My jaw hit the floor as a plethora of neatly arranged photos showcasing books of all sizes, colours and genres filled my screen. Caption boxes overflowed with thought-provoking literary discussions and chains of bubbly, bookish conversation flooded the comments. It was Instagram like I’d never seen before! I’d quickly learn this intriguing community was called bookstagram and dare I say it was love at first sight. I was immediately determined to start an account of my own and it didn’t take long to notice the positive influence the bookish community was having on my wellbeing.

So, how exactly did bookstagram benefit my mental health?

1. It served as a creative outlet

Amidst times of turmoil, I’ve always found art to be a great source of relaxation. The process of creating an aesthetic bookstagram feed therefore proved to be rather therapeutic. From arranging props to selecting colour schemes and adding cute graphic effects in post-production editing, the challenge of designing captivating bookish photos provided a welcomed distraction from the hardships of life.

2. It allowed me to connect with like-minded people

One of the worst things you can do in a low slump is socially isolate yourself. Bookstagram offered a unique platform upon which I could strike up bookish chat with people all across the globe. Yes, it was only online conversation, but the effect it had on boosting my mood was phenomenal. I’ve been blessed to interact with so many inspiring people in the bookish community, a handful of which I’ve gotten to know on levels beyond our literary interests.

3. It provided a platform from which I could help others

 Unexpectedly, my involvement with bookstagram opened doors to some amazing collaborations. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with authors, publishers and companies to promote their products, services and visions. It was through this work, in which I could help others, that I rekindled my own happiness. Turns out Buddha was right, ‘if you light a lamp for someone else, it will also brighten your path’.

4. It encouraged me to focus on the positives

The enjoyment I derived from bookstagram served as a constant reminder that despite the struggles, there were still good things in life to cherish. Even after the hardest day, I knew bookstagram would be there to expand my reading horizons, stimulate my imagination and lift my spirits. It was a platform upon which I felt empowered to explore new possibilities and challenge my boundaries; healthy mantras I have since applied to all aspects of life.

So, there you go. Despite popular belief, it turns out bookstagram has the power to offer much more than just pretty pictures. I have the bookish community to thank for a much-needed positive shift in my headspace and would implore anyone considering starting an account to take the plunge. I may have a lot to learn about the world, but it delights me to say, with resounding certainty, that discovering bookstagram has been the single happiest accident of my young life so far!

About the Author:

Emily Waller is a book blogger, writer and avid reader from Perth, Western Australia. Intrigued by the art of storytelling from a young age, Emily spends most of her time pretending to listen to you whilst crafting fictional worlds in her head. When she’s not engaged in her literary endeavors, you can find Emily enjoying live music, exploring the outdoors or eating Nutella straight from the jar with a spoon. You can follow Emily on Instagram @littlewaller

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