Social media is embedded in the fabric of our lives. We use it to share what’s going on with us and keep in touch with friends and family, but social media can be bad for your mental health if it isn’t intentionally managed. Lots of people report feeling depressed, lonely and even anxious after spending time on online, but when you’re stuck in the black hole of endless scrolling, it can be hard to remember that this virtual world is one that you have the power to create to your own liking.
Your social media stream is your world—one where you can create and curate a space that boosts your confidence and makes you feel positive. If you’re one of those people who find that their mood changes for the worse after spending time online, then it might be helpful to start fine-tuning your feed so that you feel better after you put your phone down. Need some help? Check out some of these suggestions, try a few (or all) of them, and notice if it makes a difference in how you’re feeling.
Follow People You Admire, Not Envy
Take some time to figure out if the productive guy on your timeline is inspiring you to crush your to-do list before the end of the week or if you find yourself feeling bad, wishing you were as organized and put-together like him. It’s easy to think that wanting to “be better” after seeing someone else’s carefully-curated post is a good thing, but that only works well if you feel positively motivated by the example—not discouraged or dejected by comparison. Check in with yourself to make sure you are activated to improve
rather than triggered to appear a certain way.
Find Your Tribe
Make a list of things you enjoy, hobbies you’re interested in, or matters you’re passionate about and start searching hashtags. You’ll find others who like the same things and also be immersed in all of the things that make you feel good more often. Plus, building an e-community with others who have similar interests can help alleviate some of the feelings of loneliness people experience after spending time on social media by connecting you with like minds.
Fill in the Gaps
If you fall outside of the status quo, then you may have noticed that you rarely see others who look anything like you. And the less you see images that you can identify with, the more depressing and alienating your timeline can feel. How do you get your power back? Put everything you want to see in your media on your timeline. Find big men, disabled guys, empowering activists, dark-skinned dudes, and everyone else who reminds you of the beauty that can be found in all the shades, shapes and backgrounds that don’t usually get the spotlight.
It sounds trite, but laughter is truly the best medicine, so if you aren’t following a few accounts that make you crack up, then you need to get on it ASAP. Studies show that laughing has many benefits, from boosting your mood to lowering your blood pressure. Even if you don’t bust out into a full-on LOL, just smiling can trick your brain into feeling happy, too. Look for comedians that post content consistently so that you can get a regular dose of laughs in between getting inspired and motivated by the other stuff on your pages.
Create a Vibe
You can use your timeline as a virtual vision board where you shower yourself with love through mantras, affirmations, pictures, and words of encouragement. Swap out accounts that you use as #goals and instead focus on really developing your goals from within. Find and follow accounts that improve your confidence, make you feel good about your body, encourage you to dream bigger, and get you excited about living your life out in the real world.
Make Use of the Mute Button
Sometimes it’s necessary to completely unfollow someone once you realize their feed isn’t really for you anymore, but other times a good ol’ mute will do the job just fine—especially if it’s someone you don’t want to notice and take offense to your absence, or you’re just having a moment where you need a break from certain kinds of content. You can mute posts and stories depending on what you feel is best for your mental health so that later on you have the option of unmuting someone without the need to follow them all over again and draw attention to yourself.