Be honest – how much time do you spend on social media? Do you work in social media and/or marketing? Are you aware of how much it can affect your mental health?
Social media, and using it in large quantities, is still fairly new but studies show that excessive use of it can seriously affect your mental health and wellbeing. Especially amongst young people.
It doesn’t particularly help either that social media apps are literally designed to be addictive. When you use these apps, the brain releases a ‘feel-good chemical’ called dopamine. However, heavy use of social media can be linked to depression, anxiety and poor quality of sleep.
We often continue to use social media, even if it makes us feel terrible, just because of the potential reward we will gain from it. These rewards come in the form of likes on our Instagram pictures, seeing a funny tweet or TikTok. But the hope of gaining these rewards can also lead to comparison and depression when we don’t receive them and therefore worsening our mental health.
Working in social media can exacerbate this too as you have to keep up-to-date with the latest news and trends. Add a bit of hustle culture to the mix (defined as the state of overworking to the point where it becomes a lifestyle) and you could easily find your way towards or experiencing burnout and mental stress.
You can avoid getting to the point of burnout though by applying some pretty simple tips and measures to improve your relationship with social media and even your work.
Manage Screen Time
First and foremost, consciously manage your screen time. Did you know that in the UK the average screen time is 3 hours and 23 minutes? Quite handily, your smartphone comes with many tools and apps to limit your screen time.
You can use night mode to get rid of the blue tint on your phone and laptop. Blue light reduces the release of melatonin in the body, a hormone that makes you sleepy. It’s why most experts recommend putting away screens an hour before bed, in order to get the best possible sleep.
Set app limits on your phone. Personally, I have a limit of one hour a day on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Instagram now also has a very handy ‘take a break’ feature which you might want to consider.
Turn off notifications for your most-used apps. Think about it…do you really need to be notified that X posted in Y Facebook group? Do you need to be notified every time somebody likes your Instagram post? To further that, if comparing yourself to others is something that really affects your mental health, I’d recommend turning off seeing your post likes altogether.
Take Regular Breaks
Taking regular breaks is especially crucial in a working environment. A great method to ensure you’re doing this is the Pomodoro Technique, which I use regularly. You work for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break, repeat three times and then take a 15-minute break. During these breaks, don’t just look at your phone.
Whether you’re at work or not, there are plenty of activities you can do to take a break that doesn’t involve a screen.
- Have a stretch
- Get some fresh air
- Do some cleaning
- Write in a journal
- Start a hobby like painting, drawing and embroidery
Take Your Time Off
FOMO (the fear of missing out) is a real thing. If everyone is using certain social media sites and you don’t join in, you can become worried that you’ll miss out on news, trends, and events. Then missing these experiences can create anxiety and depression. Regardless it’s very important to disconnect by taking time off from your work and the online world for your mental wellbeing. It’s important to experience the non-online world as well as the online one.
Remember to take your work holidays in order to avoid burnout. Turn off emails and set your ‘out of office’ when you have time off. Doesn’t matter what you need or want to do, make sure you utilise the holiday you have and take time to recharge.
Detox Your Timeline
Unfortunately, there are unsavoury parts of the internet. Doom scrolling, hate-watching and hate-following are things that we can fall victim to.
Don’t be afraid to unfollow any person or business that makes you feel bad. In addition, if you’d rather not see content about any particular topic, you can mute words and phrases on Twitter along with user accounts too.
You deserve to follow content that brings you joy!
Find a Community
However, there are MANY positive aspects to social media that I want to pull attention to as well. For example, using LinkedIn can provide incredible networking, education, and career opportunities.
If you have a passion, there is most likely a community for it on the internet. Being part of positive online communities can lead to good mental health. TikTok is particularly good for finding weird and wonderful subcultures. Whether you love a particular singer (#swiftok) or have a hobby you’re passionate about (#booktok).
Follow accounts that share positive content and make you feel good! It can be fairly easy to make your social media timelines a safe haven. The benefits to your mental health are endless!
If you’re going to spend any amount of time online, it’s essential that you have as pleasant a time as possible.
Some final reminders for you:
- Social media isn’t real life
- Give yourself time to relax when you’re working
- Social media isn’t the be-all and end-all
I will also link some helpful mental health helplines, services and resources if you’re particularly struggling or just need some extra support!
Mental health resources:
NHS Every Mind Matters: https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/
Shout Text Hotline: https://giveusashout.org/