Updated: Jul 15
Are you concerned about the negative effects of using social media on your mental health and well-being? Does deleting all your social media accounts sound unrealistic to you?
As a mental well-being nerd who is a big fan of social media platforms, I always try new ways to improve my well-being in my daily life, even ways to use social media to enhance my well-being!
In this article, I'm going to provide my take on the most common concerns regarding the use of social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Instagram). As a big fan of Instagram, a lot of my tips comes from my personal experience using Instagram, but the general tips should be applicable to most social media sites.
Addressing Common Concerns
Concern #1: Spending too much time on social media
If you are concerned about spending more time than you intend to scrolling through your social media feeds, first ask yourself the following:
Which social media platforms provide me the most value? Which are the ones I could live without? You can make a list of all the social media platforms you use and write down what you use it for. Then rate one scale of 1 to 10, how much joy it brings to your life. Given all of our time is limited, I suggest limiting the number of social media platforms you have on your phone so that you truly cannot live without and deleting all the rest!
How much time do I want to spend on each platform? For example, you may decide that you need to check Instagram on a daily basis for at least 15 minutes. Then schedule 15 minutes everyday during your break time just to use it.
Concern #2: Getting distracted from what you are supposed to work on
The number one tip is to TURN OFF ALL NOTIFICATIONS on your devices. This ensures that you will not be lured to grab your phone and get distracted.
After turning off all your notifications, when you still find yourself wanting to reach for your phone, pause for a second. Reflect on why you are having this urge to reach for your phone. It is likely because you are not satisfied for some reason and in need of instant gratification. Perhaps you are getting tired or bored of what you are working on and just simply need a break. Before you follow your urge to grab your phone, try taking a break by grabbing a drink, a snack, a nap or just simply taking a few moments to close your eyes and rest your eyes.
Concern #3: Negative comparisons with others leading to feelings of lower self-worth
Tune into your feelings as you scroll through social media. If you tend to feel anxious, depressed, jealous, or any other negative emotions after seeing someone's posts, it is a sign to unfollow or unfriend that person.
We all know that people post the best moments of their life on social media, creating an illusion that they must be living like that all the time. Next time you feel jealous after seeing a picture of your friend, remind yourself that the perfect picture of your friend merely represents a one split second out of their 24-hour day!
Now that we have addressed the common concerns with using social media, we can find ways to improve your well-being while using social media!
Improve Your Experience Using Social Media
Tip #1: "Marie Condo" Who You Follow on Social Media
Similar to Marie Condo's method of only keeping objects in your physical space that "sparks joy", you should also only keep content in your online space that "sparks joy"!
Just like how we should regularly declutter our rooms and throw away trash and things that no longer bring us value, we should also regularly take some time to unfollow/unfriend people to remove their content from our feeds.
Tip #2: Intentionally Follow/Befriend Accounts that Meet Your Goals
We all have different purposes for using different social media platforms. Once we define our goals, we can all take charge to curate our online space to better meet our goals and improve our satisfaction.
For example, I use Instagram mostly to learn something useful from others that I can incorporate into my life, to enjoy beautiful photos and get inspired about ways to improve my well-being.
So I intentionally follow accounts that provide useful lifestyle tips, post aesthetically pleasing photos and accounts with daily quotes or tips for improving mental well-being. Over time my feed has moved closer and closer to meeting my specific needs and so my satisfaction has improved significantly.
Tip #3: Think Before You Post & Bring Value to Your Audience
As a social media user who creates content that others will consume, you need to be responsible about what you post. Next time you post something, think about its potential effects on your audience.
Try to avoid posting things that may not be true, that may be offensive to certain groups of people or simply make people feel bad.
Post content that brings some sort of value to your audience, which in turn will also improve your own well-being. For example, it could be something informative (e.g. advice, recommendations) that is useful; it could simply be entertaining that brings joy in someone's life; or it could be something that make your audience feel more motivated in life.
Using social media certainly has its ups and downs, but with small changes, I believe we can all improve our general experiences of using social media to maximize its value in our lives!
1. Unfollow or unfriend someone in your social media whose content has made you feel worse about yourself.
2. Follow or befriend someone new that you think will bring you more joy.
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