It seems more or less every day there is an article written about how detrimental social media has become to our society. And how a correlation between social media use and the rise in mental health issues is becoming more apparent.
Now I want to start by saying I am a big fan of social media. I have arguably used just about every social site out there at some point in time. Apart from the likes of Myspace and Friendster. By the time I was a regular internet user Bebo was the social media site everyone I knew used, shortly followed by Facebook.
Before I continue I want to say there is no right or wrong way to use social media (as long as you aren’t breaking the law). So take what you like from this blog post but just bear in mind although there is no wrong way to use social media there are definitely unhealthy ways to use it.
Social media plays a huge part in our society
A study found that in 2017 the average user spent 135 minutes on social media every day. Which has risen up from 126 minutes the year before and 90 minutes in 2012.
Social media is playing a bigger and bigger part in our everyday lives and a lot of that comes down to not only our personal investments in social media but the variety of different social sites available. There is also almost an incessant need to be active on all of them.
Also with the increasing rise of social media influencers and therefore the ability to earn a living from creating content on such sites, it is no surprise why people are spending more of their time consumed and engaged on these platforms.
With the increased use there is an increasing amount of problems people are facing in their every day lives such as; poor self-esteem, self-doubt, sleep problems, a lack of human connection as well as serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety. In a society feeling the pressure more than ever, social media is no doubt a huge contributor to these issues.
5 Ways you can create a better relationship with social media
Below I’ve outlined 5 changes you can make to take back control of your social media use and turn you unhealthy habit into a much healthier one.
1. Unfollow/unfriend people
Social media very quickly progressed from keeping in contact with friends and family to being able to follow and interact with quite literally anybody in the world.
Having this ability at our fingertips brings with it all the issues I mentioned above as we find ourselves constantly comparing ourselves to people we have never even met with a snapshot of their ‘perfect’ lives.
It is easy to forget that there are different people from all walks of life. With different backgrounds. Different upbringings. Different levels of wealth. And so it is then easy to fall into a false sense of reality because of this.
If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to these peoples lives and seeing their posts make you feel bad about yourself then it might be time to unfollow or unfriend these people.
The same goes for friends and family who make you feel this way. There is nothing wrong with unfollowing or unfriending them also.
2. Limit your use
If you find yourself in the position of spending far too much time on social media. And feeling bad about yourself. But you are too invested to stop or to take a break, it is probably time to limit your use.
It could be a case of limiting your use of social media to an hour or two a day. Maybe you need to limit your use to between certain hours of the day. Or stop using it first thing in the morning or the last thing at night. It all depends on your current usage and what you want to achieve.
There are some people who see something first thing in the morning on social media that make them feel bad. Which then affects their whole day. So for that person maybe not using social media until after midday may be beneficial.
Someone else may have a similar issue at night that affects their sleep. So having a cut-off point to relax before bed and therefore get a better nights sleep can be helpful.
Another person may be addicted and spend all day every day on social media sites. They may need to limit themselves to no more than an hour in the morning and an hour at night. Or something similar to break the habit and have a better relationship with social media.
As I said before there is no right or wrong way. What works for one person may not work for another. But it is important to find a healthy balance and a healthy way to use it.
3. Take a break
Sometimes a simple break can make you realise the unhealthiness of your social media use. It can help you get back in touch with your values and realise what you actually want to spend your time doing. If after a break you still value the use of social media then it could offer the time to think about how you want to use it going forward.
A break is often seen as quite a drastic approach and the fear of missing out really kicks in. But at the same time does that not seem like a problem in itself? A break only becomes drastic when a person makes it drastic. A break usually isn’t someones first port of call. If a break seems too much then it may be best to first start with the two points above.
Taking a break serves a variety of purposes. A couple I want to touch on is firstly it can be a bit of a reset. A time to step away and look at why you started using social media in the first place. And what purpose it serves in your life. It can help you realise where you steered wrong and how you can put it right.
Secondly, it can help you in other areas of your life which you have been neglecting. It will then allow you time to focus more on those things.
Afterwards, when you are ready to go back to using social media you will be able to find a better balance going forward.
4. Delete your accounts/profiles
We have all fell victim to downloading the latest social media platform on the market and within seconds signing up. In my experience, it is usually due to a fear of missing out and wanting to keep up with the curve. With this, we spend all day scrolling, swiping, opening and closing different sites/apps to keep up to date with everything going on, And soon enough it becomes a constant never-ending cycle that becomes incredibly difficult to break.
Maybe it’s time to ask yourself do I need all these different profiles? What purpose does each platform serve in my life? As much as we think we need to be active on all these different platforms all the time, we really don’t. Quite often we aren’t actually active on them at all. But we still continue to visit them anyway to keep up with what everyone else is doing.
If you have ever taken a break then you probably began to realise that a lot of these accounts you have on social media are pointless and serve you no purpose in having them.
Out of habit after a break, it can be quite easy to fall back into old habits. However, if you were to delete your accounts and then delete the apps to remove temptation you will be much better off going forward. Hopefully, this will also help you to avoid falling back into bad habits.
By this point, you should be only active on social media sites which serve a purpose in your life. Not following or being friends with anyone who makes you feel bad and using them for a healthy amount of time.
5. Permanently quit social media
At this point, everything else has failed. You are still using social media, your mental health is not doing so well and you don’t know what else to do.
Permanently quitting social media may be the best decision you can make. Your mental health is far too important to ignore and you need to prioritise it above the likes of social media. Especially when it can be a huge cause of your mental health problems.
You may have noticed during a break the benefits of not using social media day in and day out and hoped when coming back to it things would be different. But for some people, that isn’t the case.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with prioritising your well-being. It may take a little bit of time to overcome the fear of missing out. But if it helps you feel better in the long run then surely it is the best decision.
After all, you can always come back to it at any point if your circumstances change in the future.
Please let me know in the comment section below of your unhealthy experience with social media and how you turned it around.