You might think that scrolling or browsing through videos, photos, and status updates can be an effective way of killing time, socialising, or connecting. But in the long run, this may not be the case. In fact, reading updates or scrolling through such photos can be mentally draining, in addition to causing eye fatigue.
Looking at those happy statuses, holidays, and so on, can also make you think that your friends and peers are more successful and happier than you are. Many believe that social media is harmful to their mental health. For many people, social media use is related to loneliness and social isolation. For others, it can mean depression due to social anxiety, lower self-esteem or envy.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
So, how can you benefit from social media by using it to connect with loved ones abroad without ruining your mental health? Check out the following:
LIMIT SOCIAL MEDIA USE
Its use can hinder interpersonal and real-world communication. Limit your social media use, designate times off from notifications and choose in-person interaction instead.
For example, do not check social media when with family and friends, or when having a meal with them. The same goes while talking to your partner or playing with children. Don’t let social media interfere with work and distract your attention. Avoid it when working on projects or during a meeting or conversation with teammates.
SCHEDULE TIME OFF FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
Just like a detox is essential for physical health, it is also essential for mental health. You must set regular breaks from your favourite social media sites. Did you know that multiple breaks from them on a weeklong basis could lower your stress and improve your satisfaction in life? Alternatively, did you know that a break of just a couple of minutes from social media consistently may also lower depression and loneliness?
ASSESS HOW YOU FEEL
You don’t need a PhD to experiment here. Use your favourite social media sites at different times and for different periods, then check how you’re feeling after each session.
In the end, you might find it more helpful to spend only a few minutes, instead of forty-five minutes, on a social media site. Having only short spurts can make you feel better, too.
Also, avoid routinely digging into these sites at midnight, as that can leave you feeling bad and depleted. Try to eliminate its use after 10 pm or earlier and focus on better things that may help you sleep better, like reading a book, or listening to music.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA MINDFULLY
Don’t let social sites become your day’s escape when faced with a difficult task. Instead, you must be honest and brave. Whenever you reach for your phone to open social media, you must ask yourself why you’re doing it. From there, you can decide if it is what you genuinely want to do.
TRIM, ADD AND DECLUTTER YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SPACE
Not all content is valuable. Some are negative and depressing. Some are just boring, infuriating and annoying. If you have accumulated contacts and friends over the years, you might consider pruning, then muting, unfollowing, or hiding some of them.
For example, it might be more mentally protecting and healthier to follow inspiring and funny people, brands and pages than those that spread negativity. After all, you can experience vitality, gratitude and awe by following people who share inspirational stories.
DON’T LET SOCIAL MEDIA REPLACE REAL-LIFE CONNECTIONS
If you don’t have the time to visit your friend, who is a new parent, it is certainly okay to check on her on Facebook. But not to the extent that you’d feel it as enough to replace a real visit, especially if she lives just a few minutes away. Real-life connection still matters. Social media cannot and shouldn’t replace real smiles; hugs have burdens and relationships.
USE CONTENT AS INSPIRATION, NOT FOR COMPARISON
Some people feel bad about themselves after scrolling through social media because they’re using what they read or see as a comparison of their own success or failure.
Reading posts about other people’s success can make you feel bad afterwards if you compare yourself with it, but you shouldn’t. In fact, those magazine-perfect moments do not represent their entire lives. They also carry burdens as you do. They may face struggles and challenges regularly. In short, these people are no different than you are. They have triumphant and losing moments, too. Their lives aren’t perfect either, and no single post from them represents their lives in its entirety.
Stop comparing yourself with others. Rather than using social media content to compare yourself with other people, you should focus and work on your life goals. For this reason, it is also important to choose who to follow. Unfollow those whose posts make you feel frustrated or bad about yourself.
THINK BEFORE HITTING THAT PUBLISH BUTTON
What message are you sending out to the world? Are you spreading good or bad vibes? Think before publishing. Make your feed positive, avoid online debates and arguments, and join groups that foster positivity and support.
PRIORITISE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH.
If social media sites cause a bad rather than a good mood, or even depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem, consider taking a break from them and focus on real-life-interactions and relationships.
- Always check with yourself first.
- Disable push notifications, or delete the social media apps if you receive notifications all day that make you feel anxious and stressed.
Although social media can enhance lives, it can also serve as a stressor if not used correctly, and can also exacerbate depression and anxiety. Use these tips for healthy social media habits that can help you balance your life and protect your mental health. Use social media as a positive life force, not the other way around.