Most of us can say that we grew up with social media surrounding our lives. The influence it has on our daily activities is undeniable. One of the most common side effects of this influence is anxiety and depression caused by the unrealistic expectations set by social media. Celebrity vacation photos, unhealthy eating habits, impractical lifestyles and misinformation are triggers for many of us and cause us to despise ourselves, keeping us in a vicious cycle of unsustainable habits.
But just as a person with high cholesterol needs to be disciplined and avoid fast foods for their physical health, we need to cultivate the discipline to regulate our use of social media to protect our mental health.
I’ve struggled with social anxiety and connecting with people in the real world and I’m definitely not the only one. I’ve developed little habits that have helped me regulate my social media use and they’ve greatly changed the way I feel about myself.
I decide what I earn from each of my social media accounts so I know what I use it for. This way I almost always come to an app to do something specific and not spend endless hours scrolling. I use Instagram to connect with like-minded photographers so we can eventually communicate and do photo shoots together. Facebook never appealed to me until I realized that it’s a great place to find multiple solutions to a problem on Facebook groups.
I absolutely refrain from using my phone before and after I sleep. I realize that it feels like I just woke up one day, literally, and it worked. However, it took several weeks of trial and error to get there. It’s almost impossible for me to fall asleep when I’m looking at my phone. scroll memes for laughs. It’s even worse when I wake up because I’m checking my emails and messages and slowly getting lost at the start of my day, only to realize I’ve already been in bed for an hour and now I have to rush to get things done.
Try to stay in communities that you know are a safe space for conversation. Often, the virtual conflicts we may stir up or get involved in profoundly affect the way we perceive and interact with people in real life. Faceless users passing insensitive comments only added to my anxiety. If someone makes a rude comment, block them and interact with people you know or trust.
Finally, talk to yourself. I feel like it helped me realize from time to time that some of my habits are doing a lot of harm to me and my mental health, and that my mind and body could make peace by cooperating and removing our bad habits.
I’m not a doctor and I certainly don’t do psychology. But I have an Instagram account that ruined my sanity for years and I won’t let it get the best of me anymore.