How to Protect Your Mental Health on Social Media

Woman putting a jigsaw together connecting social media and mental health

Working in social media requires you to be always “on” – scrolling online looking for inspiration, keeping a close eye on the latest trends and responding to comments. Throw in some trolls and the fast-paced nature of the industry and you’ll be burnt out in no time. 

Around 58% of the world’s population uses social media, and the average daily usage is 2 hours and 27 minutes. However, if you work in social media, that number is likely even higher. Studies have shown that the excessive use of social media can result in feelings of isolation and loneliness. Looking at the perfectly curated online lives of friends, influencers and celebrities can lead to low self-esteem, and never being able to step away from social media will quickly be exhausting. 

Regardless of how often you use social media, it’s essential to make time to check in with yourself and set boundaries. 

The Positives of Social Media

This article may focus somewhat on the negative impacts social media can have on your mental health, but it’s important to note that it can bring positives too. There are some fantastic things about social media and it can have some positive effects on your wellbeing if used with awareness. 

Social media can enable you to…

  • Stay up to date with family and friends all over the world,
  • Create new connections and build friendships with people with similar interests,
  • Seek emotional support during the tough times,
  • Have an outlet for your creativity,
  • Find social connection if you, for example, have limited independence or social anxiety,
  • Discover sources of information and expand your knowledge. 

 

It’s not all bad, but it does need to be used carefully.

The Negative Impacts of Social Media

There hasn’t been a lot of research into the long-term effects of social media use. However, multiple studies have found a link between heavy social media use and an increased risk of depression, anxiety and loneliness. 

These negative effects may be a result of a feeling of inadequacy after comparing yourself and your content to what other people post online. Even if you’re aware that the images you’re looking at are filtered or edited, or if you know you’re only seeing a snippet of someone’s life, it can be difficult to stop comparing. Furthermore, social media can foster a sense of FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), resulting in anxious thoughts. The notion that you’re missing out on things can impact your self-esteem, as well as sparking a compulsion to check your phone and social media constantly. A dependency or addiction to social media could grow, resulting in blurred boundaries and a lack of work/life balance. 

Humans need face-to-face contact to be mentally healthy. The more we prioritise social media over in-person relationships and interaction, the more at risk we are of struggling with our mental health. When working in the social media industry, this balance can get thrown off very easily.  Let’s look at some tips for protecting yourself and your mental wellbeing online.

Protecting Your Mental Health on Social Media

1. Take Plenty of Breaks

When working in social media, your work relies on screens. You’re online all day and when you take a break, chances are you pick up your phone.  Try to take breaks away from screens and social media. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, cuddle your dog or make some lunch. 

It may help to set a timer to remind you to step away from your laptop as it can be easy to let time run away with you during work.

2. Keep An Eye on Screen Time

If you work in the world of social media, chances are your screen time is pretty high. When you’re not working, you’re maybe scrolling through Twitter or TikTok, not giving yourself time offline. Keep an eye on your screen-time and make an effort to keep it as low as possible. (Easier said than done, we know!)

Try using an app to track your screen time and set yourself a goal for how much you’d like to reduce it by. It can also help to turn off your social media notifications to reduce the impulse to pick up your phone, or even turn your phone off for a while each day, e.g. at the gym, during dinner, or in meetings. 

3. Clear Out Your Feed

Have you ever caught yourself doom-scrolling? It’s the act of looking at a lot of negative news on social media, even though it isn’t doing you any good. It can really help your mental health to cut out the content online that brings you down. Don’t be scared to mute certain words or unfollow accounts. 

We all know that there are people online who create a brand around creating controversy or anger, so if you find yourself coming away from social media feeling anxious, it’s time to unfollow. Replace these toxic accounts with motivational or funny people and brands who make you feel good.

4. Prioritise People

Social media is undoubtedly great for making connections, but it’s important to develop them offline too! There are plenty of ways you can build connections offline, without the help of social media. It could be time to take things offline for a while and attend a networking event or marketing meet-up. Step outside your comfort zone and see how it impacts your mental health.

Working in social media can be amazing but it is absolutely crucial to look after your mental wellbeing too. Remember to stay mindful of your screen time and how your time online is impacting you, and don’t hesitate to seek help if it’s all getting too much. You can find advice and helplines here. From all of us at Victress, look after yourself!



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