Our simple tips below can help you to use social media in a positive way, for which it was always originally intended. It can be a great asset and tool to boost our mental health, as opposed to falling into the negative sides of social media, which can very easily damage our mental health. The WAY we utilise social media is what’s important.
- Only follow social media accounts that make you feel good
Try unfollowing/muting accounts that annoy or upset you, or make you feel anxious or insecure. Keep away from any accounts that are harmful for your mental health. Try to find accounts that interest/excite you and help you to explore your passions and inspire you. Whatever your passion is, there will always be other people who share it. Being part of a positive online community can help to boost your mental health, and we can learn a lot from others sharing in these online spaces.
- Unfollow ‘toxic friends’ who only bring negativity into your life
This may be someone who consistently posts negative things, makes unsolicited advances, or perhaps someone you’re no longer close with who triggers bad memories. Just as we wouldn’t want them in our friendship group, we also don’t want them cluttering our social media with toxicity. Remember unfollowing someone on social media does not need to be dramatic or mean any harm, it is just for you and your wellbeing. If you want a happy life, it is important your social media has a positive impact on your mental health and doesn’t make you feel bad.
- Try not to get involved in arguments & don’t entertain trolls
Don’t get involved in disagreements with friends – friends often argue about things on social media eg politics that would never lead to a dispute/never would be discussed in real life, and people tend to be more negative/confrontational on social media than in real life.
When it comes to trolls, don’t respond. If you get involved in a heated discussion with someone who is deliberately trying to antagonise you, you are never going to feel good after engaging in a conversation with them. Block and report these accounts. Understand that many trolls are just trying to get a reaction as they are unhappy and want attention etc. Although this doesn’t excuse their behaviour, understanding this and the fact that their comments say more about them than it does you, may make you feel better. You can also make your social media accounts private if this helps to prevent comments from trolls, protecting your mental health and helping you to feel better in the long run.
- Use social media to keep in touch with friends & connect with loved ones
Use your social media to reach out and see how people are doing. You never know what someone else is going through, and your support and reaching out to others could make all the difference to them, as well as making ourselves feel better for catching up with an old friend etc. Social media is also a great way to stay in touch with friends and family no matter whereabouts in the world they live. Share personal stories and photos with the people who you may not be able to see so often, then they don’t need to miss out on your life even if they’re away.
- Try limiting your time on social media, especially before you go to sleep and when you first wake up
Create a balance between time spent using social media and also time spent focusing on what’s actually in front of you in the real world. Face to face interactions with family and friends are also incredibly important, so be aware of what is real and most important.
Moreover, time of day is also important. In a September 2017 study of over 1,700 young adults, Primack et al found that when it comes to social media interaction, time of day plays a fundamental role. Engagement during the last 30 minutes before bed was found to be the strongest indicator of a poor night’s sleep. “It was completely irrespective of the total amount of social media use in the day”. Something about keeping those last 30 minutes tech-free, it seems, is crucial to a restful slumber. This may be due to blue light emitting from our screens that inhibits our melatonin levels (melatonin makes us drowsy/fall asleep), it could also be that things we see on social media stick in our minds or cause us anxiety so this keeps us up as we try to wind down/go to sleep, or lastly it could just simply be that social media is so alluring that getting lost in social media right before we go to sleep simply reduces the time we have for sleep as we end up staying awake far longer than planned.
Going on social media first thing is also a bad idea. Instead of endless possibilities and positivity to start your day, you start your morning with a screen dictating how your day will go. Seeing posts on social media that may be negative, comparing ourselves to others etc – all of these things can send stress levels soaring first thing in the morning and set us up for a bad start to the day.
It can be helpful to use a real alarm clock to wake you up in the morning, this way you can leave your phone in another room when it’s time to go to bed.
- If after using social media you feel deflated or negative, take a break
If you’re feeling down try going outside for a walk, grabbing a coffee with a friend, or doing something different instead of spending time online. Whilst being on social media can enhance your life, it can also potentially exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression, so it is important to create a healthy balance, as well as making your social media use a positive rather than a negative experience.
Try watching one of our latest TikTok videos, talking through and visualising all the above points, and more: https://bit.ly/3nV8UkS