If you find that you’re spending too much time on social media and it’s negatively affecting your mood, try modifying your habits.
Spend less time scrolling and more time interacting with the people and things around you. You could also try disconnecting from social media for a set amount of time each day.
The Role Social Media Plays in Mental Health
Humans are social animals that need the companionship of others to thrive in life. The strength of our connections has a huge impact on our mental health and happiness.
Maintaining social connections with others can have numerous benefits for your mental and physical health. These benefits can include reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-worth, providing comfort and joy, preventing loneliness, and even lengthening your life.
If you don’t have strong social connections, it can be detrimental to your mental and emotional health.
We use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram to connect with each other.
It is important to remember that social media can never replace real-world human connection.
In order to feel happier, healthier, and more positive, you need to have in-person contact with others. This will trigger the hormones that alleviate stress.
In spite of its intention to connect people, social media can actually make users feel more lonely and isolated, as well as worsen mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
If you feel like you’re spending too much time on social media and it’s impacting your life negatively, it might be time to reassess your online habits and find a better balance.
Social Media Fuels Comparison: the Thief of Joy
Have you ever had a day where everything seems to be going wrong, and you try to distract yourself by looking at social media, only to be bombarded with images of friends on vacation, colleagues at a work event you didn’t know about, and influencers who seem perfect?
When you compare your life to others, it’s easy to focus on the highlight reel of their life and overlook the reality.
This can result in negative emotions such as feeling inadequate, insecure, and dissatisfied. These emotions can then make a bad day even worse.
I fall into the comparison trap often.
I feel like the only way I can avoid feeling bad is by avoiding social media. But, since my job is social media, I can’t do that.
Social Media is Addictive
Ever find yourself tapping buttons on your phone without knowing how you got to Instagram?
In a study by Chicago University, it was found that social media is more addictive than cigarettes and booze.
Paraphrase: Design techniques that encourage us to keep scrolling or clicking can create a feedback loop that addictively keeps us coming back for more.
Excessive social media use has been linked with causing unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life, as well as increasing the risk of developing anxiety and depression.
Do people who work in social media have a higher chance of developing an addiction that could harm their mental health?
The research suggests that the job should come with a warning about the online world.
How to manage mental health while working in social media:
1. Reduce Time Online
In 2018, a University of Pennsylvania study found that reducing social media use to 30 minutes a day resulted in significantly reduced levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, sleep problems, and FOMO.
Although you may feel the need to cut back on social media drastically to improve your mental health, the study concluded that being more mindful of your social media use can have just as many benefits on your mood and focus.
For most of us, that means reducing how much we use our smartphones. The following tips can help:
There is an app that helps you to see how much time you spend on social media. You can set a goal for yourself on the app to reduce the amount of time you spend on social media.
You can have specific times when you allow yourself to go on your phone, like for 10 minutes after you wake up or right before you go to sleep at night.
You should turn your phone off at certain times of the day, for example when you are driving, at the gym, spending time with friends or playing with your children. You should not take your phone with you to the bathroom.
You could allow yourself specific times to go on your phone, such as 10 minutes after you wake up or just before you go to sleep at night.
Don’t use your phone or tablet in bed. Turn them off and leave them in another room to charge overnight.
It can be difficult to ignore the constant notifications from social media applications on your phone. Disabling these notifications can help you to take back control of your time and focus.
The goal here is to break the habit of thinking you HAVE to check your phone regularly. If you’re constantly checking your phone, set limits for yourself by checking it less frequently.
Start with checking it every 15 minutes, then every 30 minutes, and eventually only checking it once an hour. There are apps that can help you stick to these limits by blocking your access to your phone at certain times.
The goal is to break the habit of thinking you always need to be checking your phone.
One way to cut down on phone addiction is to delete social media apps so you can only access them from your tablet or computer. If this is too difficult, try deleting one social media app at a time to see how much you really need it.
2. Change Your Focus
Many of us access social media without thinking about it, or because we’re bored and want to kill time.
You can improve your experience on social media and avoid many of the negative aspects by focusing on your motivation for logging on.
The type of experience you have on social media changes depending on why you are using it. If you are looking for specific information, checking on a friend, or sharing photos, your experience will be different than if you are bored, looking for likes, or checking for something you’re missing out on.
Are you using social media in place of real life?
Read a book. Is there anything you can do instead of using social media that would be healthier for you? For example, if you’re feeling lonely, you could ask a friend to go out for coffee with you. If you’re feeling depressed, you could go for a walk or to the gym. If you’re feeling bored, you could read a book.
Try occupying yourself with a new hobby instead of turning to social media when you’re feeling bored or antsy. More often than not, social media is not the most beneficial way to satisfy your needs.
Do you tend to use social media a lot, or do you let others do the talking for you?
When you passively scroll through posts or anonymously follow the interaction of others on social media, you are not creating a meaningful sense of connection.
A person who is not an active participant may feel more isolated.
Do you ever feel bad after looking at social media? Maybe you see posts about people having fun or achieving something great and it makes you feel like your life doesn’t measure up.
You can alleviate symptoms of FOMO by concentrating on what you have, rather than what you lack. Make a list of all the positive aspects of your life and recite it back when you feel you’re missing out on something better.
While it may seem like everyone else has their life together, remember that this is not always the case. We all experience difficulties and setbacks, even if we do not post about them online.
3. Spend More Time With Offline Friends
Though social media can be a great way to connect with others, we all need face-to-face contact to be happy and healthy.
Schedule some time each week where you can be with your friends and family without using your phone. Make it a habit to have your phones turned off during this time.
If you have not been keeping up with your face-to-face friendships, try reaching out to an old friend (or an online friend) and set up a time to meet up. If you are both busy, offer to help each other out with errands or to exercise together.
Find a hobby or activity you enjoy and join a group of like-minded individuals who meet on a regular basis.
Don’t let social awkwardness stop you. Even if you’re shy, there are ways to overcome insecurity and make friends.
If you don’t feel like you have anyone to spend time with, try reaching out to acquaintances. A lot of other people feel just as uncomfortable about making new friends as you do, so be the one to break the ice. Try inviting a coworker out for lunch, or ask a neighbor or classmate to join you for coffee.
Make conversation with people you don’t know. Talk to people you see around you in public places like on the bus, at the coffee shop, or in the grocery store. Smiling or saying hello will make you feel better—and you never know what might come from it.
4. Express Gratitude
Take time for reflection
You could try keeping a gratitude journal to help you remember all of the great things in your life, as well as the things and people you would miss if they weren’t there anymore.
If you tend to express your feelings more through venting or negative posts on social media, you might benefit more from private reflection that isn’t under the scrutiny of others.
If you experience FOMO and compare yourself to others, you will dwell on life’s disappointments and frustrations.
You’re not fully enjoying your life because you’re too focused on what other people have. You see other people’s highlight reels on social media and compare them to your behind-the-scenes footage, which doesn’t match up.
You can lessen the impact of FOMO and improve your overall mental wellbeing by practicing mindfulness and living more in the present moment.
Our hard-wired desire for social connection compels us to give to others.
When you help others, you not only improve the lives of those around you, but you also make yourself feel happier and more grateful.
5. Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is key to protecting your mental health. This could include, for example, logging off at a certain time or blocking specific timed slots to reply to DMs and comments.
Find out what is most effective for you and then express your limits to your manager or customer.
6. Curate Your Feed
Do you often compare yourself to the people in your feed? Or do the accounts you follow spam you with negative news? It’s time to take back your power and only follow accounts that inspire you and make you feel good.
The following text discusses ways to hide someone’s posts from your feed on social media without unfollowing or unfriending them. One way to do this is to use the mute button on Instagram or Twitter. Another way is to ‘unfollow’ someone on Facebook while still remaining friends with them.
7. Stop Checking in on The Competition
It can be tempting to constantly check on what your competitors are doing, but it can also be bad for your self-esteem. It can be helpful to be aware of the competition, but it’s important to remember that you’re not competing with them directly.
If you find that you are too often falling into a cycle of checking this person’s social media posts, it might be a good idea to unfollow or mute them.
8. Try a Digital Detox
Make an effort to put your phone away and engage with the world around you. Find times during your day when you’re not working to relax and disconnect from your phone. This might mean going for a walk without your phone or not taking your phone with you into your bedroom at night.
I work in social media, so I’m on these channels a lot during the week. I find it helpful to do weekend detoxes, where I take a break from social media.
9. Practice Mindful Scrolling
Next time you’re scrolling through your phone, try to pay more attention to your thoughts and how your body feels. Try not to be too hard on yourself, and remind yourself that what you see online isn’t always an accurate representation of reality.
I hope this blog inspires you to talk to someone about these issues.
The more we raise awareness around the impact of social media on mental health, the better we can protect people’s mental health. This will help people who work in the social media industry to set appropriate boundaries.