Looking After Your Mental Health Online
Whilst there are lots of positive aspects of social media such as connection, being inspired and feeling in touch, there are some negatives that we need to be mindful of that can have an impact on our daily mental health. Endless passive scrolling can lead us to feel that we’ve taken valuable time away from living our own lives, comparison can make us feel negative and low about ourselves which in turn can lead us to feeling inadequate and that we aren’t doing enough. There are also the feelings of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that can have a marked effect on our mood. It is no wonder then that all of these factors have been shown to increase levels of anxiety and depression. However, it is important to remember that by engaging your own personal power you can protect your mental health online. Ultimately, you do have a choice in setting some digital boundaries that will help keep this space a positive experience for you and outlined below are a few that will hopefully help.
Choose the accounts you follow wisely
This seems simple enough, right? But it can make so much difference to your scrolling. Make sure the accounts you follow inspire you, inform you or just bring you pure joy. If when you’re scrolling this isn’t the case then it is within your personal power to mute, unfollow or block. Remember that these functions are there for you to use and a regular detox on the accounts you are following is always a good idea They help set a boundary for you and your account. Ultimately your social media accounts are your choice.
Don’t fall into the comparison trap
Now we’ve all been here haven’t we? It’s human nature to compare and to pass judgement. It’s the way we learn about society and in healthy amounts this is OK, especially when it acts as aspiration and inspiration. However, it’s when it produces a negative impact on ourselves and we start feeling that we aren’t good enough that it becomes a problem. In social media terms it is always worth being mindful that what you see on a square is someone’s best bits, a 2 second glimpse into their lives. You don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes. Everyone has issues and stories that they don’t share out loud so it’s easy to fall into the trap that everyone else has it altogether all the time. This isn’t the case. Bring into the mix editing and filters and you may start to understand that what you see isn’t always the real deal so don’t find yourself aspiring to something that isn’t even a tangible product. If you find yourself too caught up in the comparison trap, bring yourself away from social media and back to yourself and focus on the things in your life that you’re grateful for.
Likes and followers
Don’t get caught up in the numbers game. There’s a real collective want to grow on social media and that’s understandable as people want to connect with more and more people but if you find yourself getting caught up in this just remember that social media is about the connections you make and the day to day engagement. Always bring it back to the beautiful side of social media that is your community. It’s also important to remember that lots of accounts sadly aren’t organically grown so just focus on your own community and watch it flourish.
Take regular digital breaks
This is so important. Time away from social media is so good for your mental health. Whilst the wonderful connections we can make here are so enriching, real life is still where it’s at. Take time away from your phone to look up, read, exercise, take walks, have real conversations and see friends. Don’t let social media replace that real human connection.
So to summarise, healthy social media habits will include less passive scrolling, being mindful that what you see isn’t always reality. Remember to follow the accounts that inspire you and try to use comparison as inspiration and aspiration so as to avoid the negative trap. Take regular social media breaks, engage your personal power with your social media accounts and remember that real life should always be your focus.
Meet the author
Helen Marie, Training Psychotherapist
"I'm a training psychotherapist based in London with a huge passion in helping others look after their mental health online. I run an Instagram account with a focus on mental wellbeing and am married with three children and four dogs."
Instagram: Helen Marie