Spending too much time on social media can lead to depression and anxiety, as I discussed previously in this three-part series on the relationship between social media and mental health.
Indeed, many people find that the longer they spend on social media, the worse they feel. To reduce the chances of these negative effects happening to you, try limiting the amount of time you spend on social media. Set a healthy daily limit for yourself and try not to cross it. Personally I’ve found that 15 to 60 minutes works best for me. Experiment with your own optimal range.
Another great way to reduce the negative effects of social media is to remember that, although sometimes it may seem that everyone else has ‘perfect’ lives based on their posts, photos, and stories, everyone faces problems, too. Chances are high that a lot of the people you follow online have faced the kind of challenges that you’re facing. Try to remember this the next time you find yourself envious of someone on social media or feeling bad about yourself.
Social media can be a great place for connecting and finding help. No, it doesn’t replace professional help; but it can certainly help. Join support groups or communities with people who face similar situations, and you can often find loads of helpful tips and amazing personal stories. These groups also remind you that you’re not alone.
If you don’t want to join a group, try messaging a friend or family member. Sometimes things are just too hard to face alone.
Follow motivational pages. These can seem silly; but I can attest that, in unexpected times, you may find yourself very thankful for their words of inspiration. Sometimes we’re surrounded by so much negativity that it may be hard to find anything positive. By following these types of pages, every time you’re on social media, there’s a post that’s encouraging and positive for you to see. Sometimes, one simple motivational post is all that it can take to give you the motivation you need get by that difficult moment, even if it doesn’t change your situation in the long term.
Finally, remember that there are internet “trolls,” so don’t take everything you see online personally. You may receive a negative comment or message online—don’t let that get you down. A lot of times, these troublemakers are facing a really hard time in their own lives and seek to take out their pain on everyone else.
I’ve had many encounters with internet trolls. Yes, it’s hard to brush off their nasty comments; but it’s important to remember that, just because they say something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Don’t let them be the judge of your worth as a person—inside and out.
Other tips to ensure healthy social media use include: control what you see by unfollowing people and pages that constantly post negative or upsetting things; don’t obsess about how many likes your posts and pictures get; and follow pages and join groups that focus on your interests and passions.
Social media in moderation can enrich your life and boost your mental health. The danger begins when it is consumed in excess.