How to Protect Your Mental Health on Social Media
While social media can be a wonderful tool for bringing people together, it can sometimes cause damage in real life. The latest tweets and posts just aren’t worth it if the price is anxiety, depression and more. If social media is affecting your real life, there are simple things you can do to keep yourself sane. Here’s a round-up of ways to protect your mental health while using social media.
Don’t Sleep With Your Phone
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it may be because of social media put your phone away from your bed at night. This way if you wake up and are unable to sleep, you won’t be tempted to grab it.
If you’re friends with toxic people, it’s time to do some cleanup. Go through your list of friends and other people you follow and delete or unfollow anyone whose presence is bringing you down.
Turn Off Notifications
When your phone is constantly buzzing and going off with social media notifications, it can be hard to concentrate on anything. You might be too busy waiting for the buzz of likes on your phone to focus on life as it happens. Social media could be keeping you from enjoying the present.
It’s common today today to be writing a report, chatting with friends and browsing Twitter at the same time, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Multitasking often means you do a worse job at many tasks instead of a better job at one, and it may even consume more time than just completing each task individually.
Get Off Social Media Before Bed
Going on social media right before you try to sleep can be distracting and disruptive. Instead of drifting off soundly, you may lay awake thinking about a post you just saw. Even just the light from a cellphone or other screen can interfere with your natural sleep cycle.
Facebook created the like button as a feature in 2009. Since then, users have liked who knows how many comments, photos, videos and links posted by friends and advertisers. And who doesn’t appreciate getting a like?
Keep Away From Mood Killers
There is content on social media platforms that may leave you feeling depressed or anxious, like political news or articles about traumatic subjects. Despite this, you probably click on them anyway. Curiosity, boredom or simple procrastination get the better of you.
Don’t Accept Unknown Friend Requests
If you’re worried about who can see your posts on social media, don’t accept friend or follow requests from people you don’t know. It’s better to trust everyone on your friend list so you never have to worry about what you posted after the fact.
Check Your Privacy Settings
If you want to filter what people see on social media, make sure you check your privacy settings. If you find yourself worried about what you are sharing, it might be time to change what content you make available on your profile
Talk With Your Kids
When it comes to social media, it is essential to talk to your kids about safe usage. Kids don’t always know what’s dangerous on the web, so it’s up to you to teach them proper cyber skills from an early age.
Delete Friends Who Aren’t Friends
You may have hundreds of friends or followers on social media. However, how many of these people are actually people you know or interact with? If you don’t know who someone is, even if they don’t seem like a toxic person, consider deleting them from your social media.
Cut the Celebrities
Following celebrities on social media is a popular pastime. It can be fascinating to learn more about musicians and actors, certainly. However, having an idealized version of their lives broadcast into yours may not be healthy in the long run.
Beware of Ads
Ads are designed to pull you in, and social media ads are no different. Let’s say you have a habit of buying clothes worn by your favorite social media influencer, or you always fall for deals from your favorite online merchant. If you are prone to clicking on these ads and spending more money than you should, the ads on social media might actually be your problem.
In this day and age, it can be increasingly difficult to tell what is actually true on the Internet. Beyond the embarrassment of sharing a fake news story, this trend can also harm your mental health by making it difficult to believe anything at all.
A trigger is simply something that sparks strong feelings of anxiety, anger or sadness, usually because of past trauma. Let’s say you recently broke up with a boyfriend — if he is posting photos of himself with a new girl, this can be a trigger for you.
Take Time Off
Sometimes you may need a break from social media. This doesn’t mean you have to go off for good, but you may need to step away every once in a while. You may feel overwhelmed by information and other people’s lives, or you may simply be procrastinating too much.
Think About Your Feelings
Sometimes you just need to reflect on how something makes you feel. If you are constantly feeling sad or anxious after going on social media, think about why that is. Maybe you are comparing yourself to other people, or perhaps you are getting too involved with people you shouldn’t.
If you don’t want to cut off social media altogether, you may need to set limits. Maybe this means no social media before bed; maybe this means you don’t post something. Whatever the limits are, think about how social media is affecting you and what you want to do about it.
When you use social media, you should try and be mindful of what you share. If you feel like you’re always on display or have to measure up to some standard of perfection, it might be time to reexamine your choices.
Set Screen Limits for Your Kids
Some kids stay on social media longer than others, and that may mean you need to set screen time limits for them. No matter how old your kids are, it isn’t healthy for them to be on social media until the middle of the night.
If you post right as you do something, you might end up sharing more than you want to. Generally speaking, if something is worth mentioning on social media in the first place, it can also wait a few hours or even days until you’ve had time to decide if you really want to share something.
Delete Old Photos
Employers today can look to social media to learn more about you. This is not only potentially harmful to your job prospects, but it’s also a source of additional anxiety on top of everything else social media brings.
Don’t Fall for Clickbait
Clickbait exists to to get you off of social media and onto a third party website that earns advertising revenue off of your desire to procrastinate. Some may be interesting, but overindulging in clickbait can lead to wasted time that results in anxiety.
Don’t Let It Replace Real Interactions
Social media is great for preserving long-distance relationships and cultivating new ones, and because it can be used anywhere, it’s certainly convenient. However, that doesn’t mean that social media can substitute for the in-person relationships we need for our mental health.
If you use social media at work or on a public computer, you probably know that it’s important to fully log out after you are done. Failure to do so can lead to all sorts of sensitive information getting out.
Set a Timer
If you find yourself addicted to social media, set a timer to cut yourself off. You can use the alarm on your phone, a screen time app or even an old cooking timer. By creating a hard cutoff for yourself, you can stay focused and make sure you don’t waste your time.
Stick to Your Purpose
Have you ever logged on to social media and asked yourself why you went on in the first place? It could be simple forgetfulness or the result of too many things to do, but it could also be a sign that you need to cut down on social media. Either way, it wastes time and causes stress.
Get Out of Unhealthy Groups
Toxic people aren’t the only problem on social media. While social media groups can be a great way to meet like-minded people that would otherwise be impossible to find in your area, they’re not always a positive experience. Even groups full of healthy people can have bad interpersonal dynamics that aren’t good for your mental health.
Turn Off Comments
Commenting on social media can be a nice way to feel connected with friends, colleagues or family. If you feel as though people commenting on your posts or photos makes you happy and feel connected, then that's great.
Live in the Moment
The best thing about social media is that it brings people together. It allows us to connect with friends and even strangers who we wouldn’t usually be able to connect with. One of the downsides of social media, however, is that it can take away real-life experiences.