Social Media and Mental Health
When we know that our “psychological vulnerability” is increased by social media use, but that certainly doesn’t predetermine poor mental health outcomes—we don’t have to suddenly swear off all forms of communication and go full Ron Swanson. Instead, we can remain mindful of our consumption and put healthy boundaries in place with social media.
Today, consider taking three simple steps to improve your relationship with social media and decrease your risk of social media-related mental unwellness:
Consider the “unfollow” the “no” of social media—it’s a powerful tool in protecting our energy and monitoring what consumes our time. There’s this idea of the “hate follow,” or following someone simply to stay up to date with all of the things they’re doing that you just cannot stand—have you ever thought about how much mental energy that burns? We also follow people for “motivation,” when really following them makes us feel less than or unworthy. The people, media outlets, and brands we follow are incredibly influential on our wellbeing—by ensuring that what you consume is positive and adds value to your life, you decrease your psychological vulnerability.
Because we know that the volume of social media consumed is correlated with poorer mental health outcomes, we can focus on setting limits around our usage. Perhaps that’s only checking Facebook in the afternoon after work, or using the time limit applications on your phone, or not bringing your phone to bed. (Or all three!) When we decrease our consumption, we help build resilience against the negative effects of social media.
Know your triggers
Just like navigating the world while drinking less, we can apply the idea of “triggers” to social media usage. Maybe you know that opening Instagram leads to the comparison trap for you, or that Twitter leads to “doom scrolling” and despair about the state of the world. Maybe your uncle’s Facebook posts make you question your relationship with him, or LinkedIn leaves you feeling terribly behind in life. Knowing how different applications impact us, and adjusting our online behavior accordingly, can help immensely.
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