With Social Media literally at our fingertips now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it can impact our mood. Many of us are guilty of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at any given opportunity, immersing ourselves in our newsfeeds, rather than focusing on our what’s actually going on around us. Where we would once people watch while waiting for a train or carry a book around with us as a boredom buster, it seems that we now instinctively reach for our phones and press one of those colourful little apps.
Is this necessarily a bad thing? I don’t think so. It’s another form of evolution and as long as we are still communicating with each other and appreciating the world around us, does it really matter how this is done? Many of us are now inspired to take a snap of something that interests us and share it on Instagram for the world to appreciate and keeping in touch with loved ones all over the world is easier than it’s ever been, thanks to social media.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with social media is the key to ensuring that it doesn’t negatively affect our wellbeing so here are 5 ways that you can enjoy scrolling without allowing it impact your mental health.
Try not to collect friends – It’s very easy to accept every friend request that comes your way but having thousands of “friends” that you don’t actually know may cause your newsfeed to be clogged up with posts that aren’t of any real interest to you. By keeping your friends list to just your real life friends and family your newsfeed is going to have much more meaningful content, and surely you’d rather see pictures of your cousin’s new puppy than some stranger in America’s amazing weight loss using “miracle” pills that you are pretty sure aren’t even legal!! This goes for celebrities too! Think about who you follow on Instagram and Twitter and ask yourself ‘ does their content leave you feeling positive?’ if it doesn’t it may be time to unfollow!
Be mindful of what you are posting – Some social media sites are great tools for documenting your day; such as Twitter and stories but be mindful about what you do share…. Do people really need to know about your anger or hatred for someone? Or that your neighbours are screaming at each other in the street? Probably not. It may feel quite cathartic at the time but think carefully about how that would make others feel or how people will perceive you. By making it a habit to only post meaningful content you are contributing to a more positive online environment, so consider sharing heartwarming, funny or thought provoking posts instead. If in doubt, everyone loves a cat video!
Take what you read with a pinch of salt – Comparing your life with what you are seeing on social media is a sure fire way to bring yourself down so it’s important to remember that there will always be people that exaggerate how great (or bad) their life really is. We’ve all got friends that seem to post incredible holiday pictures on a monthly basis, leaving everyone else wondering how they can afford it or if they actually have a day job. On the flip side, there are those that over-share their dirty laundry, keeping it just vague enough that someone will leave a comment pressing for more information. Endless holiday pics are definitely better than the latter, in my opinion, but keep in mind that this person is being selective about what parts of their life they want their social media friends to see. It doesn’t mean they are doing better in life, are more successful or necessarily better off in any way, it just means you are seeing the parts of their life that they are happy to share – and that’s ok.
Try to log off at least once a day – Make a habit of putting the phone away and closing your laptop at least once or twice a day to enjoy a bit of time away from the temptation of social media. Take an hour to read a book, get some fresh air or spend time with a loved one and, most importantly, be completely focused on that activity. When you are with a person give them the courtesy of not constantly checking your notifications and, better still, switch those notifications off if you know they are going to be distracting.
Having a healthy relationship with social media doesn’t necessarily mean having to close down your accounts or delete the apps from your phone but when you are scrolling through your newsfeeds ask yourself if you are enjoying what you are seeing. If the answer is “not really” then put the phone away and do something else and remember to keep things in perspective.