Tips For Being Mindful Of Your Mental Health Using Social Media
Date: Jan 27, 2023
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Over 50 million people in the UK are active on at least one social media platform. That’s over 80% of the population, which clearly shows just how ingrained it’s become in our everyday lives.
And with that, comes a price. It’s estimated that half of the 17 to 23 year olds in England experienced a deterioration in their mental health during 2017-2021, according to data from Statista.
A 2018 University of Pennsylvania study found that lowering social media usage to 30 minutes a day resulted in a substantial decline in levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, sleep problems, and FOMO (fear of missing out). But you don’t need to cut back on your social media usage quite that drastically to enhance your mental health. The same study concluded that just by being more mindful of your social media use, you can lower your chances of having a negative experience online.
According to the World Economic Forum, research shows that mindfulness helps us notice what is happening in the present moment and creates space between us and our thoughts. Being mindful of your social media use can help you to gain insight and acceptance into how it makes you feel and act accordingly.
Here are our tips for doing just that:
Remember that not everyone on social media is an expert
This is a key one for registered dietitian and nutritionist, Tatiana Keay. Chatting on the podcast with Sabrina, she shared;
‘Everyone thinks they’re an expert, and it’s really not their fault, we just live in an information age. We have knowledge at the tips of our fingers. We’ve never had this access to information in human history. These influencers and bloggers know a little bit, so they are overly confident about what they do. But dieticians and nutritionists know so much, we feel like we don’t know anything!’
This phenomenon is known as the Dunning-Krueger effect:
Unfollow the people that trigger you
Tatiana also continued with this huge tip.
‘I’ve had to do that a lot over the past two years. I did actually get off social media for a few months for my own mental health, and now any time someone triggers me I just unfollow them. Because I’m on there to do good, and if I’m feeling bad going on Instagram, that’s not productive.’
Completing regular following/follower ‘culls’ can be a really good way to stay on top of the content you’re seeing each time you log on. It’s also a good idea to get an understanding of your privacy settings so you can select who can see your content and who can contact you. Learn about how algorithms work for different apps to understand why you might be seeing negative content, too, which can be detrimental to your health.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Social media makes it so easy to compare yourself to those you know, and those you don’t. Those little squares of ‘perfection’ make it almost impossible to imagine the work that goes on behind the scenes, as well as the drama. Remember that everyones’ little squares are idealised snapshots of their life, and we’re not seeing all the bits in between. Sure, their matcha oat latte looks perfect but what they didn’t share was when they spilt it all down on themselves after… Remember your chapter one looks different from someone else’s chapter one.
And if you’re into how to stop comparing yourself, Christine Handy has an amazing story from her modelling career on this in her episode:
Think about why you’re even upset by social media comments
Even if we unfollow all the negative vibes from our social, a comment or two will slip through that upsets us. But why? What is it about these strangers that can evoke such a response?
Terry Tucker makes us think about this in such an interesting way – why do we let ourselves get upset by these people?! Check out what he has to say about it in this clip:
Christine Handy described likes and comments as sinking sand and a self-esteem destroyer. She is a gorgeous model, who got a ton of negativity on social media after her surgery following breast cancer. It was certainly not easy for her, but she managed to handle it with absolute grace.
Remember to take a break
It’s so easy to get into the habit of scrolling and scrolling for hours without even realising we’re doing it. While the long-term consequences of giving up social media are unexplored, a recent study has found that taking a one-week break leads to substantial progress in well-being, depression and anxiety, particularly for people who are heavy users of the specific platform.
But it’s worth remembering you don’t need to take weeks off from social media at a time, and for some of us whose businesses rely heavily on it, that can sometimes make the anxiety worse. Set daily time limits on your favourite apps so you can really monitor, control and curb your usage and get on with other things – like relaxing!
And, if you’re worried about your social media usage?
Don’t be afraid to confide in someone. Make an appointment to see your GP, chat with a loved one or even get in touch with a charity like Mind UK. Your mental health is the most important thing that matters, and there are loads of people and resources at hand to help.