15 Ways to Stop Social Media Affecting Your Mental Health

Managing your mental health when using social media is a huge issue. Social media has become such a huge part of our everyday lives. 53 million people in the UK are active social media users, with users spending 4 hours and 57 minutes on average on social media each week.

With many of us using our social media platforms to connect with friends, share memories, shop and engage with exciting content, social media is now part of our everyday routine. With a whole host of content and day to day uses, it's hard to remember a time without it right?

A photo of lots of people on public transport on their phones looking at social media on the way to work

But, although social media has lots of benefits, it also has a number of downfalls too, especially when it comes to our mental health.

An unhealthy relationship with social media can not only have a negative impact on your self-esteem but it can also wreak havoc with your relationships, work-life, friendships, as well as other aspects of your everyday life. So it’s important that you recognise the importance of using social media in a way that is healthy for you and those around you.

Pros and cons of social media and mental health

Using social media isn't all bad. There are many pros and cons to using social media and how it affects our mental health.

Pros of using social media for mental health

Social media offers many benefits for mental health, including:

  • Keeping in touch with friends and family, wherever they are in the world
  • Discovering sources of information
  • Finding new friends and communities of likeminded people
  • Making social connections
  • Raising awareness of important issues
  • Seeking emotional support
  • Offering emotional support to others

Cons of using social media for mental health

However, it can also have a negative impact on mental health too, contributing to concerns such as:

  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Fear of missing out
  • Isolation
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Cyberbullying
  • Self-absorption
  • Less physical activity
  • Decreased concentration
  • Sleep deprivation

15 tips for managing your mental health on social media

1. Limit the time you spend on social media

We are all guilty of spending more time than we should on our social media platforms, right? Scrolling can be highly addictive, it’s designed that way. Before you know it, you’ve spent hours mindlessly going through posts, reading comments, and delving into the lives of people you don’t even know.

To avoid spending too much time on your socials, designate a set amount of time each day to use your social media channels and stick to it. Once you log in, you should also limit how much time you spend on your feeds – experts advise 15 minutes per session!

A photo of a turquoise applewatch on a wooden desk next to a book

2. Notice how you feel

Pay attention to how you feel on social media. If you notice that a certain platform is making you feel down or anxious, avoid it. Find ways to use social media that make you feel good about yourself.

A photo of the word mindfulness written in black cursive on a windowsill.

3. Pick up the phone

Before the days of social media, it was normal for people to pick up the phone and call their friends. But for many of us, the art of a good old-fashioned conversation has been lost. So, instead of connecting purely online, why not pick up the phone and call the person that you want to speak to instead?

This will not only ensure you get some real human connection, but it will also help limit the amount of time you spend on your social channels.

A woman in a cafe with her laptop open facetiming a friend on her phone.

4. Be selective about who you follow

Your social media channels should bring happiness and fulfilment to your life and they certainly shouldn’t cause feelings of anger or impact your self-esteem.

A great way to prevent your social media channels from becoming anything but positive is to be selective about who you follow. So, if any account diminishes your mood, unfollow it, hide it from your feed or delete it all together. Block and mute any unwanted content.

Someone is taking a photo of their donut here in this photo to upload to instagram

5. Have a social media break

Initiating a social media break can do wonders for your mental health and wellbeing, allowing you to connect with the real world and spend quality time with your family and friends away from your screen.

Set some time aside to spend away from your social media. You could even delete the apps from your phone or smart device so that you aren’t tempted to log back on.

A photo of some friends socialsing away from social media face-to-face

6. Ask ‘why?’

When you find yourself looking at social media, ask yourself why you’re there. Are you looking for the latest news or an important update in a friend’s life? Or are you just mindlessly scrolling out of habit?

Be honest with yourself, and if you’re not there for any real reason, put your phone down.

A cup of tea and a book makes the perfect social media break

7. Be careful what you post

Social media should be a positive environment! So, before you post in the heat of the moment if you’re angry or frustrated about a certain matter, remember that you are posting for the world to see. This type of content can also spark negative reactions and debates, which can have a negative impact on your mental health.

Someone taking a photo of their meal and posting to social media

8. Don’t compare your life to others

Often, the world of social media does not portray the real world – it’s a carefully curated world of all the best moments. So try to remember, people will only ever post what they want you to see. With this in mind, try not to get caught up in other people’s lives and you certainly shouldn’t compare yours to others based on what you see on social media.

A photo of a girl on a chair staring out her window at the world with her arms wrapped around her knees

9. Ignore trolls

Unfortunately, trolling is a serious issue on social media. From insults and negative remarks to threats and bullying, the world of social media can be a dark and frightening place at times.

If you come across trolls, you should ignore them, block them and report them.

A rainbow painted heart with the words "Be Kind" painted and attached to a fence

10. You don’t always need to post in the moment

Although it’s great to post your memories on social media, posting when you are in the moment takes you away from the here and the now, stopping you from actually enjoying the moment while you’re in it.

Instead, focus on being present without being glued to your screen. It’s certainly not going to kill you to post your pictures a day later, right?

A photo of a mountain range and a lake at sunset

11. Switch off at night

Getting a good night’s sleep is integral to your health and wellbeing and research has proven that screen time at night can actually prevent you from getting to sleep and can disrupt your quality of sleep too.

So, keep your devices out of arm’s reach at night and, if you do wake up during the night, don’t be tempted to start scrolling!

A photo of a woman asleep in bed with messy hair.

12. Live your real life

Don’t let social media consume you and get in the way of living your real life! Don’t let online interactions replace real-world ones. It should complement your life, not become it.

A photo of a group of friends enjoying a trip and watching scenic view of mountains without social media

13. Practice mindfulness

Using social media can disengage you from the present moment. And being present is key for mental health and wellbeing. If you notice yourself becoming less present, try mindfulness – take time for reflection and practice gratitude. This can really help break bad social media habits.

A photo of someone holding a plant with their bare hands

14. Consider coming off certain platforms

If certain platforms are getting you down, why not come off them? There’s no obligation to be on every single social platform (if any, for that matter!). So, if you notice that Instagram is making you feel inadequate and anxious, but you’ve made loads of great connections on Twitter, try logging out of Instagram for a while and see how that changes your mood and mental health.

An image of a phone with the social media folder open. The facebook, twitter and instagram icons are showing.

15. Always be you!

Finally, when you’re using your social media platforms, always be yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not - post images and content that portray a true reflection of your life. You should always be true to yourself, no matter what!

A photo of a sign on a telegraph ;ol that says "you are worthy of love" in black lettering.

Helping others struggling with mental health issues

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