The internet can be helpful in many ways. It can provide information, provide opportunities to connect, learn and share. Online support is becoming more popular. It is easier to access and provides flexibility. However, online information, support and connection can come with it’s challenges as well. You are not alone if your online experience has left you feeling stressed, anxious and/or triggered.
If you are engaging online and seeking allergy related information and support online it is important to monitor the impact on your mental health and wellbeing. Is it helpful? Or is it having an overall negative impact?
Here are our tips for seeking accurate information and being mindful of your mental health online.
Check the accuracy of information
As we know information on the internet is not always reliable or accurate. Find Australian sources of accurate/best practice information. You can then refer back to these to check the accuracy of other information you source or hear online. Peak bodies, government websites, hospital websites are helpful places to find accurate information. Local information can be helpful, allergy advice is not always consistent across countries. Please see a list of Australian websites at the end of the post.
Be mindful of the impact different sites, groups, live webinars or support groups and accounts are having on you. If you notice signs of anxiety or stress such as racing heart, sweating, shaking, tears and nausea, they may be having a negative impact on your wellbeing. It is ok to leave groups or unfollow pages if they aren’t helpful or if the help is outweighed by the impact on you. It is possible that they may not be working for you at that moment in time and you may choose to try again later. Different things help and hinder at different times in our journeys. Focus on those that you find helpful, that positively impact your journey and wellbeing.
Note – even factual evidence based websites can be triggering and anxiety inducing. They are useful for accurate information but still use consciously if you are finding them triggering. You could even get your partner or a friend to look up information for you if you are finding it too confronting.
Use the internet intentionally
Information and support can be more readily available online than in real life. Access to medical professional and support can take time. This is when you may turn to others or the internet to seek information and support. Try and be intentional in your use of the internet for allergy information, management and support. As discussed above have reliable sources and sites that you can refer to. Note down the questions you are seeking or the support you would find helpful. Consciously seek out these answers rather than doom scrolling or searching. It is easy to go down rabbit holes that can contribute to stress and worry rather than alleviate them with knowledge and support. If you are developing relationships online take some time to reflect on these and how they are impacting your journey and your wellbeing.
Be careful of comparisons
Everyone’s situation and every person is different. What one person says or does, the advice their doctor has provided is relevant to them and their situation. It may provide some helpful insight or prompt questions you may ask your health professionals but it wasn’t advice that was provided to you for your situation. Same goes for making comparisons about how you are managing allergies or parenting etc. Perhaps they cook more (or at least post it online), or they look like they are cruising through allergy management while you are finding it a slog. These comparisons can impact your wellbeing and self esteem. We can never know another persons situation, especially when it comes to people we interact with solely online.
Connect with people and your environment IRL
The real world can be hard for people with allergies, including children and their families. It can be easier to interact online and find support there. Getting lost in the online world can be a form of avoiding challenges situations IRL. Be sure to balance time spent on the internet with time spent IRL. Connect with friends and family where you can, consider finding face to face groups, head outside for a walk in the great outdoors, consider instead of posting put your phone down and interact with the real world. If you find you are spending much of your time online, set yourself some goals, for example not using your phone until after lunch or after you have dropped the kids off to school and gone for a walk. Start with small goals and build up.
If you find yourself “”lost” in the online world and/or you are finding many (or all) allergy related information triggering you could consider seeking help. Talk to a friend or family or speak to a trusted health professional about the impact the allergy diagnosis is having on your everyday life.
Well known and trustworthy Australian websites
ASCIA – peak body for allergy and immunology in Australia
National Allergy Strategy hosts a number of websites to help people with allergies
- Nip Allergies in the Bub – food allergy prevention project
- 250K – teen and young adult websites
- Food allergy aware – resource hub
- All about allergens – free online training for food service
- Food allergy aware – information about allergy and anaphylaxis prevention and management in schools
- My Health Record – find out how to access your My Health Record and make sure your allergy information is up to date
AusEE – eosinophilic disease
Allergy specific support
Give us a call – Allergy Support Hub – we are here for anyone and everyone living with allergic conditions and their families, face to face, online and phone services available
Allergy Life Australia – online support groups
AusEE – support groups
Eczema Support – specific eczema support
Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia – online and phone support
Other mental health support