There is no denying that social media has both good sides and bad sides, especially when it comes to our mental health.
Recently, I’ve heard more people say they are trying to stay off Twitter and Instagram…and perhaps that’s something you’re struggling with as well: finding ways to protect your mental health while battling all the challenges we’re facing in life.
Personally, I love staying connected to people around the world and hearing about their successes. I also will admit that if it wasn’t for social media, I would not have certain information or know friends and schoolmates who are going through major health issues, and would not be able to support them. I also get lots of exciting information from Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Generally, social media enables you to:
- Communicate and stay up to date with family and friends around the world.
- Find new friends and communities; network with other people who share similar interests or ambitions.
- Join or promote worthwhile causes; raise awareness on important issues.
- Seek or offer emotional support during tough times.
- Find vital social connection if you live in a remote area, for example, or have limited independence, social anxiety, or are part of a marginalized group.
- Find an outlet for your creativity and self-expression.
- Discover (with care) sources of valuable information and learning.
The bad side of social media:
- When you feel lonely, depressed, anxious, or stressed, you use social media more often- as a way to relieve boredom or feel connected to others. Using social media more often, though, increases fear of missing out (FOMO) and feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction, and isolation.
- In turn, these feelings negatively affect your mood and worsen symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.
- The worsening symptoms cause you to use social media even more, and so the downward spiral continues.
On that note, here are tips to help you maneuver the mental challenges that come with social media usage.
- Do not spend more time on social media than with real friends.
- Turn off post social media notifications.
- Avoid keeping your phone or tablet close to your pillow or bedside.
- Track social media usage and make steady efforts to cutdown.
- Avoid being on all the social media platforms. Two or three that are most relevant to your passions and interests are enough.
- Do not passively scroll people’s post as you would be wasting time judging and comparing yourselves with them.
- Normalise unfollowing or unblocking people or posts that you find toxic.
- Follow accounts, people that post stuff you’re learning or passionate about.
- Plan and enforce deliberate routine breaks from social media.
- If you use social media because of boredom, reflect on other real-life substitutes and opt for them more.
- Identify a problem in your community that you’d like solved, if you cannot do it on your own, research to know if there are agencies or organisations in the community that work in that area and volunteer with them. You can substitute this by helping people. You do not have to tell anybody or do it to seek people’s appeal or approval.
- Turn of your data at certain times, especially when you’re hanging out with friends or family or driving.
- Resist taking your phone to the bathroom, unless you intend to play some shower music or engage in rather productive activities.
- Set goals, track your achievements on a daily basis, and dwell more on the positive side of your life.
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