Social media can be an amazing tool to connect and share our work, but it can also leave us feeling lonelier and more disconnected than before. Below are some tips that have worked for me in developing a better relationship with social media and have greatly improved my mental health.
My relationship with social media, like for many of you I’m sure, is…complicated to say the least. I feel like my opinion of it changes almost daily, sometimes hourly. I hate it, I love it, I want to get off of it completely. It simultaneously inspires me and leaves me drained. It feels completely fake and rehearsed one minute and then it feels vulnerable and authentic the next. Does anyone else feel this way about social media, too?!
Social media, like everything, has its wonderful qualities and it has its major flaws. It’s okay for our feelings about it to change – as long as it’s not completely draining us or making us so unhappy that we’re not able to function in “real life” (if that’s the case for you, I urge you to completely get off all of it as soon as you can, at least for a few days. It will do wonders for your soul).
In addition to the fact that social media can often make us feel worse about ourselves (you’ve heard the cliche about not comparing your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel), as a blogger, social media can also feel overwhelming in that I often feel pressure to constantly put stuff out there on many different social media platforms. As someone who is on social media now a lot more than I ever was before my blog, it’s become more important than ever for me to develop a healthier relationship with it. Here are some practices I’ve used to cultivate a more positive relationship with social media:
Practice self-awareness and set boundaries
The most important thing for me when it comes to social media is self-awareness. I’m constantly checking in with myself about how my time on social media is making me feel. If social media is making me feel bad about myself or I’m just comparing my numbers to others’, I know it’s time to take a break and practice some mindfulness and gratitude until I feel centered enough to go back on.
Remind yourself about the positive aspects of social media
Despite its negatives, I also truly believe social media can be a huge force for good. Social media gives us much easier access to the people we admire. If you loved a book or a blog post, try DMing the author. I’ve gotten responses from most people I’ve DMed when I never thought I would hear back – people are often much better about checking DMs than you think! Social media can also help us make friends in real life if we make the effort to meet up in person. It can be scary to message someone to meet up who you’ve never met, but just put yourself out there and amazing things will happen!
Stay in the present moment as much as possible
Yes, it would be great to get a cute photo of your latté when you get coffee with a friend. But sometimes it’s worth giving your friend your full attention and letting go of the photo op. It’s okay to not get a good shot at every event you go to. Sometimes just going to the event is enough. It’s hard to find a balance in this area, for sure, and I’m nowhere near perfect at it – but just remember that at the end of the day what’s important are your relationships, not how many instagrammable moments you’ve captured.
Create – don’t just consume
My relationship with social media changed a lot when I started blogging and putting content out there instead of just passively consuming it. You may not have a blog, but if you can somehow use social media as a tool to share something you’ve created – where that’s a song, or a poem, or a great caption – I promise it will feel better and more useful than just mindlessly scrolling and sharing the occasional pic of your avocado toast.
Unfollow accounts or people that don’t bring you joy or uplift you
This is a big one. If you’re someone who’s followed so many accounts that you just don’t feel like you can unfollow all of them, then make a new account! Making a new account for my blog was one of the best things that happened to me. Instead of all the random people I’ve followed over the years since starting my personal instagram six years ago, this time I’ve made very specific choices to follow only people and accounts that uplift me and that I want to see. And if there’s an account I followed that I no longer feel is uplifting me, I unfollow them. Be very selective in what you allow onto your feed, and I promise it will help.
I know social media is a divisive topic, and I know it brings a lot of people more heartache than happiness. But I sincerely believe we can make social media work for us, not the other way around. It just takes a little bit of mindfulness and some creative changes like the ones I suggested above. Let me know if you’ve tried any of the above or if there’s something else you’ve found that has helped you with social media, too!