Maintaining your mental health is an extremely important part of taking care of yourself. If you aren’t careful, using social media can negatively impact your mental and emotional well-being. Try using these tips to use social media in a way that is healthy and positive:
- Maintain A Realistic Perspective
One of the major drawbacks to social media is that it has a tendency to make us compare what is happening in our lives with the lives of the people that we follow.
When you see amazing vacation photos from one of your friends or pictures of a group of people out having fun while you are stuck at home, it can leave you feeling like your life doesn’t quite measure up. You may feel like you are missing out or like your life isn’t quite as fun as it could be.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the photos that people share on social media don’t necessarily reflect the reality of their lives. Typically, people only share photos of things that they do that are fun, different, or exciting. In most cases, they don’t share photos of the everyday grind of their lives. Because of that, social media doesn’t present a complete picture of how other people live, which is why it is unfair and unrealistic to try to compare their lives to your own.
- Set Aside Time Specifically For Social Media
Researchers at the American Journal of Preventative Medicine conducted a study that led to some fascinating results. The study compared participants who visited social media sites at least 58 times a week with those who visited fewer than nine times a week. What they found is that the likelihood of people feeling socially isolated was three times higher for the group that visited social media more frequently.
The study doesn’t really provide clarity on whether this is because social media makes people feel more isolated or because people who feel isolated spend more time on social media. Either way, though, you may want to consider cutting back on the amount of time that you spend on social media.
An easy way to accomplish this is by setting aside a specific time each day that you spend checking your social media accounts. Try to limit yourself to only viewing your profiles during this time. This will make it easier to stay focused on your life outside of social media, allowing you to build connections with other people in the real world
- Turn Off Notifications
Trying to stay focused when your phone is constantly blowing up with notifications and alerts is impossible. When you get a notification, there is an extremely powerful temptation to check to see if you are missing out on something that you need to know. One way to get around this problem is by shutting off your notifications.
Doing so doesn’t mean that you will miss out on anything. When you eventually log into your accounts, all of the notifications will still be there. The only difference is that you won’t constantly be interrupted by notifications as you go about your day. According to professionals this is good for mental health.
- Get More Involved In Social Media
Researchers at the University of Michigan may have an answer as to why people tend to feel more lonely or isolated when they use social media. A study that they recently conducted found that lurking on social media sites had a tendency to make people feel lonelier.
Interestingly, people who actively used Facebook to connect with their friends or share photographs maintained a fairly steady mood throughout the day. On the other hand, people who simply lurked in the background but didn’t participate tended to feel worse as the end of the day approached.
The key take away from this is that lurking on social media could be contributing to negative feelings. To try to counteract this effect, consider participating more often rather than hiding out.
- Don’t Lie To Yourself
Before you can begin changing the way that social media affects you, you first need to be willing to acknowledge exactly how it is impacting your life. Think about how social media affects your feelings. After you spend time on a social media site, do you usually feel sadder or lonelier or do you feel happier and more like you are part of the crowd?
You may find it beneficial to familiarize yourself with symptoms that are associated with depression. Oftentimes, people don’t seek treatment for depression because they don’t know that they are depressed. Depression can affect you in a number of ways, including lowering your self-esteem, making you feel indecisive, or leaving you feeling tired and fatigued.
If you are depressed or anxious, there are most likely other factors in your life that are contributing to the problem. However, social media can make things worse – especially when it is used incorrectly. It is important to honestly acknowledge how social media is affecting your mental health and well-being. If necessary, you can then take steps to minimize its impact.