In the rise of social media, we can all agree that we are progressively spending more time online than ever before. Almost a quarter of American adults report being online constantly, and another 75 percent report going online at least daily.
After a certain point, our mental health can begin to suffer from all the things we consume through social media. More than one-third of American adults view social media as harmful to their mental health, and two-thirds believe that social media usage can be linked to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
How can we edit our social media to protect our mental health?
Add a Time Limit
Social media is no different than other forms of media, in the sense that the messages you receive are exactly what the sender wanted you to see.
Social media is a highlight reel of someone’s day – and often doesn’t broadcast the lows that accompany the highs. Not to mention, the interconnectivity of social media allows us to access news from all over the world, much of which can impact you emotionally.
It is necessary to prioritize protecting your mental health over the ease of overindulging in the entertainment and information offered by social media. Use your smartphone to set a daily time limit of how often you want to be scrolling on socials.
Commit to not checking social media when with friends or family, talking to a partner, or playing with the kiddos.
Block, Unfriend, and Unfollow
We’ve already discussed why unfollowing toxic people on social media can be one of the greatest gifts of self care. While the concept of unfollowing people can get a negative reputation, do it unapologetically. Your social media is your safe space on the Internet.
Follow Positive Pages
A recent study investigated the relationship between exposure to a specific type of content on social media and well-being outcomes: specifically, inspirational content. Inspiring social media and online video use were related to everyday experiences of gratitude, vitality, prosocial motivations, and behaviors within millennial students.
The bottom line: ditch the Negative Nancies in your feed for a few motivational or funny sites to counteract the negative effects of social media.
Take a Break
When all else fails, simply take a break. The overwhelming pressure to respond to notifications or count our “likes” can lead to developing an addiction to our phones, or even experiencing nomophobia: the feeling of panic or anxiety when one is left without or unable to use their mobile phone. The best way to protect your mental health and practice self care is to unplug and step away.
Our brains were not designed to comprehend so much information and react to the never-ending amount of updates daily. We all can benefit from stepping away from social media, exhaling, and being present where we are.