Managing your mental health on social media
Whether you’re an account manager, marketing specialist, digital creator, or simply just an active user in the social space — it’s important to understand the negative and positive effects of social media. While social media networking has allowed us to connect with each other more than ever before, our dependence on it can have a destructive outcome on our mental health.
As of 2019, the average user spends about 144 minutes or just under 2 and a half hours on social media every day. Since 2012, this number has increased by 62.5%. And that’s not surprising, considering all the benefits of online access to social media including but not limited to world news, creativity, self-expression, civic engagement, and instant communication.
In an Ontario-based study performed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, researchers found that students who reported using social media for two or more hours per day were also more likely to describe themselves as lonely and depressed, and feel anxious when comparing themselves to both their friends’ and celebrities’ lives in the social space.
Completely banning yourself or others from social media has been proven to be ineffective, and sometimes an unattainable method when required for work. With that being said, building a healthy relationship with social media means using it effectively and responsibly.
Be selective with your content
It’s beneficial to be particular about who you friend and follow, and which platforms you choose to be active on. Consider unfollowing or unfriending an account whose content prompts negative feelings or views about yourself or others. Ensure that the content of individuals and brands you’re following are aligned with what’s important to you, and you’re getting value from following them.
If you can’t unfollow someone because of work or friendship, you can use the mute button on Instagram or Twitter to hide them from your feed. This means that you’ll remain following them, but you won’t see their content on your timeline. You can do the same on Facebook with the “unfollow” button, while still remaining Facebook friends with them. You can use both of these methods and the user won’t know that you’ve hidden their content.
Set time limits
The new release of iOS 12 allows you to track and monitor the time you spend on your phone and on social platforms. You can even set a time limit for using apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You’ll be notified when that time is about to run out, and you’ll be reminded to close the app. This can be easily turned on and off, so this method will work even if your 9-5 requires you to be on the apps for longer.
If you’re an Android user, you can look for third-party applications. AntiSocial is one of the highly-rated screen limitation apps, with several standard features like setting screen time limits and app blocking (it’s also free!).
Build your own community
Genuinely interacting with people and brands that you like and viewing content you enjoy is a liberating experience. Having a smaller circle of like-minded people on social media can help reduce feelings of loneliness, and gives you more time to pay more attention to your real-life relationships.
Being part of a network that carries the same values as you will reinforce positive relationships both online and offline. At the end of the day, social media was built to connect us with other people, not lose ourselves in letting the number of likes, shares, and notifications get the better of us.
Take a break
While it may be impossible for you to avoid social media at your job, taking a break on weekends or evenings is still achievable. If possible, schedule your social media posts in advance using free scheduling & analytic tools available on your phone or desktop. Otherwise, reach out to a team member or co-worker to help you post Instagram Stories or monitor comments so you can take a real break during your time off.
With the many advantages that social media has given us, it can also just as easily become damaging to your well-being if you’re not mindful of how and how often you’re using it. When used thoughtfully and deliberately, social media can be a useful addition to your social life, but it’s also important to remember that online connections cannot replace real interactions and relationships. So the next time you like or comment on a friend’s post, why not also message them to meet up for a coffee in person?
If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, please visit Canada’s mental health support page for resources, contact a medical professional, or reach out to someone you trust.