How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Social Media

Social media is ubiquitous in modern life. Most of us are connected to at least one social media platform, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or something else entirely. This can be a good thing when it enables us to connect with friends, family and like-minded individuals around the world. However, it can also have a significant negative effect on our mental health too.

That’s why it’s so important that we all make a real effort to cultivate a healthy relationship with social media. If this is something you have been struggling with, and your relationship with social media is affecting your mental health, then here are some steps you can take to improve things:

Take some time out

If social media is making you feel stressed, anxious or inferior right now, then the best thing you can do is to take some time out, turn off your phone, deactivate your Facebook account, and do something else instead. Play with your kids, go for a walk, read a good book, and focus on the here and now. Social media will still be there when you’re ready to get back to it, but giving yourself some headspace away from it all will help you to put things into perspective and give you some respite from the feelings it is throwing up for you.

Schedule social media time

If you’re the kind of person who spends way too much time on social media, and that means that you don’t get enough time to exercise, cook healthy meals, relax and ret your eyes, or whatever else would be better for your health than endless scrolling, it might be a good idea for you to schedule your social media time.

When your phone is always on, and you’re constantly getting notifications, it can be pretty stressful. It takes you out of the moment and takes over your life. So, why not mute your social media, turn off notifications, and simply schedule a few times throughout the day that you can dedicate to checking your socials instead? This will help you to develop a healthier approach to social media so you don’t become overly obsessed and more invested than is sensible.

Keep things in perspective

It’s good to keep in mind when using social media, and the internet in general, that not everyone is who they say they are –  one of the top tips to stay safe online – and that people will generally only post the best snapshots of their lives. That’s why you should never compare yourself to people online – you just aren’t getting the whole picture. So, if you compare your life. Warts and all,. To their fake life, or the images of only the good times the people you follow have, your perspective will become distorted and you will start to feel lesser.

The fact is, we are all different and our social media presence do not give the most accurate picture of who we are. Remember this and you won’t take so many hits to your self-esteem going forward.

Remove the apps from your phone

If that doesn’t work, think about removing the apps from your phone completely. That way, it will be a bit less convenient to check your social media profiles, which means you might think twice before doing so all the time.

Socialise in real life

Instead of relying on social media for your social life – hard at the moment I know – try organising meetups with your friends in person, or if that is not possible. Scheduling time to video call them instead. This will enable you to connect on a fast deeper, and more satisfying level than you can when you’re simply exchanging text-based messages online, and it will help to get you out of the habit of defualting to social media whenever you’re in need of connection, too.

Think before you post

Most of us have probably experienced the embarrassment (and worse) that comes with posting an opinion or maybe a candid photo without really thinking it through. That’s just part of growing up in the internet age, but if you want to have a healthy relationship with social media, it really is something you should get out of the habit of doing.

Before you post anything at all, think seriously about whether you’d say the same thing in person or publish it on the front of a newspaper, if you wouldn’t, chances are it would not be a good idea to post it on social media either. You need to protect your mental health and reputation by not giving people ammunition to use against you.

Don’t look to it for validation

It can be tempting, especially if you’re feeling lonely or insecure, to post on social media in the hopes of fishing for compliments or getting the validation you seek, but this is often not a good idea. Why? For one thing, a lot of interactions on social media are pretty disingenuous, but also because it will often attract predatory people to you when they sense your vulnerability. Not only that but if people don’t engage with your posts in the way you had hoped they would, it can lead to you feeling even worse. If you’re feeling low, it’s a far better idea to reach out to friends, family or even mental health professionals, in the real world because they are the people who really care.

Carefully consider who you follow

If you want to have the healthiest possible relationship with social media, stop following people who bring you down, make you envious or emit toxic vibes all over the place. Instead, focus on people who lift you up, bring joy with their posts, and have something interesting to say. Why expose yourself to things that will make you feel bad when you don’t need to? It’s madness, but so many of us do it, and it really is time we made a change.

Ignore trolls

If someone, for example, mocks your weight after you’ve posted a photo or calls you clueless when you express a considered opinion, it can be tempting to bite back and defend yourself, but is it really worth the time and energy? Most of the time it is not. If someone is trolling you, the best thing you can do is to ignore them, move on and avoid feeding them. After all, it is attention they want, and the more you give them, the more they will hit back at you and use everything they can to make you feel bad. You are so much better than those trolls, so ignore them.

Post after the event

Studies have shown that people who live in the moment are happier than those who do not, so if you want to be as happy and healthy as possible, save your social media posts to the end of the day. Sure, take photos of fun events and what have you when happening, but instead of jumping on to Insta to post them right away, wait, get back to what you are doing and be mindful. The pics will still be there when the event is over and you can share them then. Being mindful will make you so much happier than a few likes on Facebook after all.

Be authentic

It can be tempting to try and present yourself as being a better version of yourself online. This can be exhausting. You’re constantly lying to yourself and others and you have to be painfully careful that the mask doesn’t slip, editing every photo and agonising over everything you write. It’s so much healthier to be authentic, and you know what? The people who follow you will likely enjoy your posts so much more when they are honest and true because authenticity is easy to spot, as is fakery, especially on social media where we are all on our guard.

Leave it at the bedroom door

One of the least healthy things you can do in terms of social media is to take it into the bedroom with you. Your bedroom should be a device-free zone if you want to get a good night’s sleep, avoids stress keeping you up at night, and ensure that you wake up fresh-faced in the morning.  If you must have your phone in the room because you use it as your alarm, stick it on aeroplane mode and do your best to forget about it until morning comes, oh and please don’t make the first thing you do each morning checking your phone!

Fostering a healthy relationship with social media can take time, and you will need to put continual effort in to catch yourself before you fall back into bad habits, but eventually, when you see how much happier and healthier you are, it will become second nature and you will be so much better off as a result, so what are you waiting for?

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