As a result of the pandemic, many people have found themselves more reliant on social media than they were in previous years. While some people choose to leave social media entirely, it’s not an option for everyone, nor does everyone want to. After all, social media is incredibly useful in a number of ways. We use it to gain a sense of connection with others, get inspiration, talk to friends, and more. Some people even have careers that rely either somewhat or entirely on social media. That said, it can have downfalls.
Mental Health and Social Media
As great as social media is, it becomes toxic when it starts to breed comparisons, give false information, or cause unnecessary stress. It isn’t inherently toxic, but it can become toxic, and research suggests that it has the potential to impact mental health negatively. If social media has become toxic for you, it is time to address it. So, how do you strike a balance between social media and taking care of your mental health? Here are some tips.
Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself
If you follow a social media account, regardless of the platform, that makes you feel bad about yourself, it’s time to unfollow it. Rather than making you feel bad, it could also be an account that upsets you or causes unnecessary stress.
If it’s a friend or family member, don’t be afraid to use the “mute” button (or the equivalent) on your platform of choice! They won’t know that you did it, and you might just be saving your relationship on top of protecting your mental health.
Set aside tech-free time on a daily basis
To help you achieve a sense of balance with social media, make sure to set aside distinct time away from your phone and computer on a daily basis. Here are some ideas that can help you add tech-free time into your day:
- Putting your phone down to spend time with a roommate, family member, or friend.
- Putting your phone down while exercising and leaving it there the whole time. You can also do this while you spend time outdoors. This will help you connect with nature distraction-free.
- Setting aside a certain number of hours before bed where you will be phone and computer or tablet-free. Opt to read, meditate, draw, or clean instead. This doubles as a great way to practice sleep hygiene!
Sometimes, it can be helpful to listen to podcasts or audiobooks using your phone while you clean or engage in other activities. Plug it into the wall, turn it upside down, and just listen to the audio instead of interacting with social media. Additionally, consider taking full-day (or longer) breaks when you can. Take as much time as you need to, and check in with yourself with regard to if social media is serving you or not.
Know what not to post
There are times on social media when you just need to step away. It could be that someone’s trying to engage you in an argument, or it could be the temptation to post something that could impact your work or the rest of your life negatively. Don’t let it be an afterthought – set rules for yourself about what you will and won’t post, and know that you don’t always have to engage.
Some people are dedicated to misunderstanding you and are more interested in the argument than they are in learning, and rarely will a social media post be worth losing what you have in real life. This will vary from person to person, but to think twice and remember that you have the option to walk away can be powerful.
The Bottom Line
Healthy social media usage will look different for everyone. The most important thing to do is to acknowledge what does and doesn’t feel good and what is and isn’t enhancing your life. Ask yourself when social media makes your life better and when social media impacts your life or mental health negatively, whether it’s because it’s a distraction or because it is otherwise harmful, such as in the case of comparison to others.
Be honest with yourself, and set boundaries for yourself surrounding social media usage so that you can achieve the highest level of mental health and peace possible. If you are struggling to cut down on social media usage or if it is impacting your life negatively in another way and you’re not sure what to do, consider seeing a therapist or counselor who can help.
If you are struggling with mental health, access to therapy or counseling is life-changing. It’s not just about your relationship with social media; therapy is also beneficial for those struggling with mental health conditions, interpersonal relationships, stress related to work or school, familial issues, and so much more.
You can find a provider in your area, or you can use an online therapy website with licensed mental health professionals such as my therapist. Whether you see someone in person or online, you deserve to get the support that you need.