Many of us spend enough time on social media to know that it can sometimes have an adverse impact on our mental health, even going as far as affecting mood, self-esteem, anxiety and depression. So what can we do if we start to feel that our social media use is becoming a focal point of negativity?
Whether it’s checking the news, our notifications or keeping up-to-date with family, friends, social groups or networking, there is no doubt that social media has many affirming qualities that entertain or keep us connected — it especially comes into its own during pandemics when we’re at home socially isolating for public health.
It’s natural for us to seek out companionship and like-minded people to socialize with as it helps prevent loneliness, improves our happiness and boosts our mental health. Connections are important, and aside from physical interaction, social media can be a useful tool to create and/or maintain those relationships. If, however, you start to feel that using it has become detrimental, it may be time to take care of your social media health …
Take A Social Media Vacation | Every now and then it’s a good idea to completely take time away from social media for an extended period of time. Aim for at least a weekend or, better yet, a full week off so you can do some self-care, spend time with those around you (if that’s safe to do so), catch up on things you enjoy doing, etc. Give yourself the chance for a mental reset by taking a social media vacation a few times a year or as needed.
Reduce Time Online | Take a careful, honest look at how long on average you spend using social media a day and then reduce it by a third. Make this your new routine and you’ll see how much more time you have to do other things — which doesn’t have to be centred around productivity, you can rest too. Set an alarm, make a timetable, turn your devices off at a certain point each day — do whatever works for you to reduce your time online — and you might find you have more energy, better concentration and a healthier mentality that helps you deal with everyday stresses.
Adopt An Alternative Habit | We all reach for our phones to mindlessly scroll through our social media, apps and other online delights when we’re bored, zoning out from watching the tv or in-between tasks. For many — yes, I’m looking at myself here as well — it’s the go-to thing to do to fill time when we could choose something else to help us relax or entertain ourselves with. Instead of reaching for your phone, grab a book to read, chat to someone, make a cup of tea, listen to some music, try out a board game, play with your partner, kids or pets, etc. Find something that engages your mind and makes you feel good so that scrolling social media doesn’t become a black hole into which you disappear that interferes with your work, family moments or downtime.
Practice Mindful Interactions | When you’re on social media it’s important to make sure you have clearly defined boundaries that you stick to. Don’t be shy about muting or unfollowing certain accounts or people that you find harmful, intrusive or inappropriate. Report anything that steps over a line for you, and don’t be afraid to speak out about it, if appropriate, when this happens. You decide what you respond to or have the energy to engage with and how much/what you share about yourself. Making sure you have clear boundaries will help you feel safe and more able to tackle social media and online communications.
Support One Another | If you’re going to spend time online you may as well add to the overall positivity of the experience for yourself and others by making sure your interactions are supportive and encouraging. It’s easy to become passive as we scroll through various feeds but the people we know or follow may be sharing something useful, heartfelt, educational or important. Take some time to be active and engaged, it feels good to give and receive a kindness boost.
What do you do to maintain your social media health?
6 Ways Social Media Negatively Affects Your Mental Health — The Independent
6 Ways To Protect Your Mental Health From Social Media’s Dangers — The Conversation
Covid-19 And Your Mental Health — The Mayo Clinic