Since the fairly recent invention of social media, we’ve been on a collective journey of figuring out how to engage with this life-changing technology in a healthy and balanced way.
Social media has proven its benefits again and again over the last few months. But, there can be too much of a good thing and mental health experts have warned this adage applies to social media, especially for young people whose brains are still developing.
We’re probably all too familiar with the negative effects our favorite apps can have. Ever find yourself scrolling through Facebook photos of an ex, rage tweeting about politics, or feeling both judgy and sad after looking at an influencer’s TikTok page? Guilty as charged here.
So we’re encouraging you to take a good, long look at your social media habits this Mental Health Awareness Month. Here are some tips for creating a more holistic relationship with your favorite social apps and websites.
Be the Observer
People use and respond to social media in different ways depending on their personality and life experiences. Some may not have any issue with the way they engage with these apps, while others may feel direct effects on their mental health. To determine where you fall, try to incorporate a little mindfulness into your usage. A simple way to do this is to check in with yourself each time you open or close a social app. Try this practice with all of the different platforms you use. You may find some are fun and useful outlets while others are bringing you down. Here are some prompts to get you started:
What were you thinking and feeling when you opened the social app in question?
What about when you closed it?
Did your mood change?
Were you using the app to procrastinate on something important?
It’s easy to beat ourselves up when we realize something as small as social media can become a bad habit or affect our moods, but try to avoid this. Observe your usage with curiosity instead of judgment. From here, you’ll know what changes you might need to make with your social media habits.
‘Marie Kondo’ Your Accounts
Now that you’re aware of when you use these apps and how they make you feel, it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Unfollow or mute accounts that leave you with negative or self-critical thoughts and delete any apps not sparking joy for you. Some may find the block, mute, and unfriend buttons to be dramatic and unnecessary, but they exist for a reason. Sometimes people aren’t healthy for us or we aren’t healthy for other people, and that’s ok.
The phenomenon of continuing to see someone who has exited your offline life via a digital platform is still new to humanity as a whole. Depending on the situation, this can cause futile pain or just keep you reliving drama. Social media should be here to enrich your social life in the present, not remind you of negative situations, trolls, or people from your past. Block and delete accordingly, babe.
Try a Detox
If it’s hard for you to log off or you feel your habits have gotten unhealthy, consider implementing a little social media cleanse. This will give you mental space and clarity, and it’s a great way to practice discipline, which is a beautiful and useful skill to have in your life toolbox. You can do this by deactivating accounts, deleting social apps from your phone, and telling a friend or family member who can help keep you accountable. You can commit to your detox for a day, week, month, or any period of time you desire. Just make sure it’s doable for you, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do it perfectly. Consider journaling over the course of your detox so you can take note of what you’re learning about your digital habits and mental health.