Social media is a double-edged sword. It can connect you with friends and family, help you grow your business, and provide a sense of community. However, it can also cause some serious mental health issues that could lead to depression or an addiction. Without the right tools at our disposal, it can be difficult to navigate these issues. In this mental health blog post we’ll go over how mental health affects our online behavior and what social media platforms can do to help us have a healthy social life (and strong mental health).
And what are some of these tools?
” Cool down periods ” – These give users the option to take a break from the platform for a specified time. Some platforms such as Facebook and Twitter offer this feature, but only when you request it. Other platforms like Instagram and Snapchat don’t currently have these features available, which seems to be one of their major downfalls.
Social media addiction can happen in just a few months . This is especially prevalent with younger generations who have constant access to social media 24/7 (thanks smartphones). It’s so easy to get caught up in the ‘rat race’ of Facebook likes, Twitter followers, retweets, posts, comments, pins..etc.
This can cause a ‘social media over-dose’ that could interfere with a user’s mental and physical health.
A few other things to remember:
Social media addiction is like an addiction to anything else. Once you get addicted, it’s hard to stop. So if you have one of those newfangled smart-phones (or the first iPhone owners), make sure you know your limits on how much technology you allow into your life. If that means not bringing it to bed, then so be it! It is always best to try and make the internet work for you and not against you.
- Avoid the ‘Judgement Free Zone’: Many sites like Facebook and Twitter are notorious for going overboard with the snarky, harsh and hurtful comments. If you find yourself getting angry or frustrated at the amount of unkindness you encounter on social media, create a “judgement free zone”. If you find it difficult to stop scrolling through your feed, just turn that mode off for a short period of time.
This is also great advice for anyone who has a full-time job and runs into people they know from social media clients/ friends every single day. You’ll be amazed how many people have no idea that they’ve visited your page or been involved in some online controversy (aka drama).
So remember, just because it’s online, doesn’t mean you don’t have to be nice!
- Learn how to manage your social networks and don’t get overwhelmed: Part of the reason for the change in my Facebook behavior is that I started to get frustrated with all of the “urgent” posts and notifications that would pop up on my page. It almost seemed as though everyone wanted something from me and it was never ending.
I’m a busy woman who has enough on her plate in real life (see below). I was starting to feel overwhelmed by all of these “events” of someone’s life that seemed more interesting than mine at times. So I started learning about my Facebook options, how to turn things off, and eventually started deactivating my account until I found the “sweet spot” for me.
So if you find yourself on overload or feeling overwhelmed by social media, try out these tips to create a more pleasurable online experience:
- Take a break from the ‘judgement free zone’ I mentioned above: Deactivate your social media accounts for a period of time – remind yourself that most people post the best parts of their lives (the highlights) and not everything is as perfect as it seems.
- Set limits on how long you spend online each day (a good hour is plenty). Setting this as a goal and keeping it in mind can help you stay within your limit.
- Schedule time to disconnect: One thing that helps me is to schedule time on my calendar each week (something that I use for work) to disconnect and read a book, watch TV or just stare out the window. It’s important to find ways that you can take these breaks so that you don’t feel overwhelmed while living your life.
It’s 8 p.m., Monday, January 28th 2014 and I just walked out of my apartment. I feel rattled, uneasy and exhausted. I have a pounding headache behind my eyes and my stomach is doing questionable things. I’m walking to a small local coffee spot that is only ten minutes from where I live. My mission: Get some alone-time, medicate with some caffeine, and recharge for the week ahead of me.
The only problem? Within five minutes of sitting there, I notice someone taking pictures of me through the window from outside because they think I look interesting (and yes, I realize how incredibly egotistical that sounds). It’s now 8:08 p.m., normally 10 minutes has never felt so long in my entire life.