I know. This topic is tired. Social media is bad for our mental health. But, that’s how I keep up with friends and family! But, my book club communicates their schedule on Facebook! But, memes! But, news! But, FOMO!
You’re held hostage. Level: Stockholm Syndrome.
Countless articles, studies, and mental health professionals attribute heavy social media usage to a decline in mental health. Could it be that your incessant need to be connected has made you feel more alone than ever? Is it possible that that burst of dopamine you get with every refresh isn’t really a sustainable source of feel-good chemicals?
An article in Very Well Mind by Sherri Gordon calls out some tell-tale signs that social media is having a negative impact on your life and mental health:
- Your symptoms of anxiety, depression, and loneliness are increasing.
- You are spending more time on social media than with your real-world friends and family members.
- You tend to compare yourself unfavorably with others on social media or you find that are your frequently jealous of others.
- You are being trolled or cyberbullied by others online.
- You are engaging in risky behaviors or taking outrageous photos in order to gain likes.
- Your work obligations, family life, or schoolwork is suffering because of the time you spend on social media.
- You have little time for self-care activities like mindfulness, self-reflection, exercise, and sleep.
So, now what? Cut back.
By now, the algorithms know who and what is most important to you. If you limit yourself to 30 minutes a day, you’ll catch all the highlights. So, cut back. Do you want to up the ante? Have a social media fast day. Commit to not checking Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for 24 hours straight. Just one day. You can commit to anything for a day. Then, after you realize that you are unstoppable and have superhuman willpower, repeat weekly. One day, each week, without social media.
But how to stop if you’re absentmindedly opening Instagram without even noticing? There are apps for that. The one I use is “Stay Focused,” (Google Play) which allows you to set timers for certain apps and websites. If you’ve had it open longer than your allowed time, it won’t let you open it. It even gives you a nice, inspirational quote when it’s telling you that your Facebook notifications will have to wait until tomorrow.