- Jillian Lawrence
Social Media and Your Mental Health
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
Let's jump in a time machine and think back to when social media was first born... does it take you a moment to think that far back?! Do you even remember? (MySpace, anyone?!)
Facebook, for example, was built by some university friends with the idea that the platform would help people stay in touch. Social media was designed to build connection with one another.
I imagine Mark Zuckerberg (Founder and CEO of Facebook) was sitting around with his friends back in 2004 talking about how rad it was that they could share what they were up to, stay connected with their family, and pick up chicks all on this neat program they designed. They had no idea at that time that Facebook would be such a huge piece of our lives in 2020.
During emotional times like we are experiencing with Covid-19, it's hard not to think about the past and how things have gotten so far away from where they were once headed. The light hearted idea from a few friends, has turned into a marketing machine for businesses everywhere and has lead to social comparison like we've never seen before.
What have things come to? We have gotten so far away from the original concept of social media: to come together and build a community with connection and positivity. Social media is meant to bring people closer together because of our similarities, not drive us apart because of our differences.
Right now, digital connection is all we have. To go online and see one another whether it's FaceTime, Zoom, or even a simple Facebook comment, is keeping us going. But there's a shadow side to social media, the dark part that we all know exists but no one knows how to stop. As someone who has experienced mental health issues for the majority of my life, I feel it necessary to talk about what you can do to be present your own thoughts and feelings when it comes to social media.
1. Be Present to your own feelings
When you are scrolling through your account, be present to how you feel when you are taking a look at each different post. If you are starting to feel imposter syndrome or are that there is a lot of negativity in your accounts then it's time to take action.
On Facebook you can unfollow your friends without notifying them. You'll still be friends with them, but you will get a break from seeing them in your feed. You can also snooze people for 30 days to remove them from your feed temporarily.
On Instagram, you can mute accounts to continue following them, but remove them from your feed. Depending on your device, this is usually done by tapping on the 3 dots in the corner of a post.
People and things that you normally love could be triggering you right now. Please know, that it is completely normal, don't feel bad muting or unfollowing people, this is your life. Take control.
2. Follow accounts that lift you up
Instagram is a great way to follow empowering women and men that you feel may make a great difference in your life. This is also where you may find an inspirational workout, a meal plan, or advice on social media marketing ;)
I follow accounts that lift me up. I actually go to my Instagram feed for a pick-me-up because every account I have in my feed serves before they sell and offers me joy and inspiration.
You may also find joy and inspiration on Facebook through personal accounts, Pages, or Groups. I tend to find Instagram a more positive place, but you pick what works best for you.
3. Make sure you take breaks
At this time, it is almost inevitable to see a post that may make you sad, upset, or angry. Our emotions are high and many of us are having a hard time processing what we're going through.
If you hop onto social media and haven't stacked your feed with positive accounts, you may find many negative posts about different things going on around the world. This is why it is important to take a break from social media altogether. This break may be 10 minutes, or the rest of the day. It could be that you don’t look at it for the rest of the week, or you take the app off your phone all together. It's different for everyone.
The important part is that you recognize you need this break. You are amazing, and it is important for you to remember how amazing you are and not allow negative posts to cloud over your positive and encouraging thoughts.
Instagram actually has a timer in the settings that you can activate to remind you to take a break from scrolling!
When thinking about social media and your mental health, it's important to remember that you are going to experience these weird times where you feel you may need a break, and that is okay! It's easy to get addicted to your phone, so it's important to be present to your own feelings because they're unique to you.
What you experience may feel different in your day to day life. Have grace for yourself. Your mental health is much more important than marketing your business at this time.
You will be the most present for your followers when you are in a good head space and can give all your attention.
It's so important that we are encouraging one another to be positive through this pandemic. This is not the time to be judging other peoples decision to vaccinate or not. It is not the place to express your disgust to those who are not choosing social distancing. This is the time we are lifting one another up and sharing inspiration.
We have hit ground zero people, and there is no where to go but up. This is where we make our new start, what will you create for yourself?