Social Media and Mental Health

The effects of social media on mental health have been well-documented by countless studies. Yet the only solution that these studies have provided is to discontinue the use of social media altogether. Social media addiction issues are real. But this head-in-the-sand solution is not even an option in a fast-paced commercial realm where business interactions must be made through any means necessary.   

But creative solutions to safeguarding your sanity abound. In the following article, I would like to share some of the tips and tricks I have accumulated over the past three years of managing as many as 60 feeds at a time.   

It Is Your Space.  

I think this is a good place to begin. The answer is remembering that social media is the slave and you are the master. Many settings can be adjusted to more tightly control your feed. There are block, mute, and unfollow buttons at your disposal. Don’t want to offend Aunt Polly, but CBA to hear about her toddler’s potty training? Unfollowed! Are Instagram stories a little too grabby? Muted! Is some internet troll pushing your buttons? BLOCKED! Really, who has time for this aggravation?   

Treat your time and energy as space in a magazine, carefully clip, categorize, and curate your content to what benefits you the most.   

Get Educated.  

“Fake News” is out there and anyone will print a fearsome headline and employ other scaremongering tactics for the sole reason of grabbing your valuable attention. It can be nerve-wracking to spend time investigating perceived threats that turn out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors. But there is a solution here too. First, you must understand that if the platform will allow certain practices, these practices will be used.       

But if something has you concerned or upset, you can always check with authorities on the matter and get a clear perspective on the subject from a variety of experts. Never take the rantings or clickbait of some online agitator for any real value.    

Decide Who You Want to Be.  

In line with point no. 1, this is your space. You don’t answer to anyone and you never need to feel like you owe anyone an answer, follow, like, comment, or any other type of interaction. We all know that the personalities we see online are just a polished and perfected veneer, not a true representation of our real selves. With this in mind, choose whatever you want to be!  

Do you want to be a mom? Or, a brilliant boss babe? You can choose which side of you needs to come forth on business-related platforms and what side to keep for your private and social life.   

I am a proponent of building an online alter ego. Of course, we all want to be as authentic as we can in the real world, but trying to be ‘real’ online is a recipe for a nervous breakdown, not to mention exhausting. So the best thing to do is to create a brand and work from that. We all have a unique story to tell, it is up to you to choose how to tell it.   

Is It the Best Place for You?  

I know many writers who are big fans of Twitter and benefit from the connection they make there, but it’s not the same with Instagram. Just like I could spend the day flipping through Instagram, but YouTube I can’t stand.   

If a certain platform is not providing you with the wherewithal to be a better you, why are you even there? If you hate Facebook, simply shut down the account and move on. Why spend hours researching the subtleties of obscure hashtags on Instagram, if it isn’t something you will use?  I, myself, am a master of Instagram and its many functions, but ask me to make a splash on LinkedIn or Twitter, and I’m all out to sea.   

Use Sanity Filters  

If you are on social media for extended periods, which is sort of what I do professionally, you simply can’t absorb the amount of information coming at you from all angles. So, use a filter tool to screen out only what is pertinent to your regular activities.  I recommend Hootsuite, especially for those who are drowning in Facebook and Twitter content.   
Another good way to decrease the pervasive nature of social media is to apply time restrictions on yourself. At first, this may seem difficult to arrange, but during certain hours of the day, it simply isn’t convenient for your sanity to be absorbed and addicted to social media. Set times and hours where you will make your online presence known and stay sharp while doing so. After this, it lights out till the next day.

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