How To Protect Your Mental Health On Social Media
The beauty of social media, is that you can post almost anything.
Good or bad, you can post it. You can share as much or as little as you want. You can keep it light and fun or you can use your platform to speak out. Everyone has a right to say what they want to say, post an unedited photo to keep it real, but also embrace the creativity to post a beautifully edited and filtered photo. But, with that obviously comes a lot of opinions and emotions. Specifically, feelings of comparison. I’m absolutely guilty of falling into the social media trap and feeling like everyone is living their best life while I’m going nowhere.
Just like we have a right to post whatever we want, we also have a right to control the content we consume. I’ve taken extended breaks from social media because it had a negative impact on my mental health. I almost felt like I couldn’t go on the app because I didn’t want to see this or that. And it made me realize that I need to change my mindset and instead of feeling like I can’t go on social media, I instead need to create my ideal environment.
Mute / Unfollow
Both buttons are there for a reason. Utilize them. If someone’s content is making me feel bad about myself or just not resonating with me, I unfollow. With the algorithm, half the people I do follow don’t even show up on my feed. But, if someone’s photo appears and it continously brings about a negative emotion and takes the ease and joy out of scrolling, I have to unfollow. At the end of the day, why would you want to consume content you’re not interested in or you just don’t like?!
Obviously this gets complicated when it’s someone you know in real life and have a relationship with which is why I love the mute button. I listened to this podcast where the host basically said, that sometimes she sees posts from her friends that make her feel bad about herself and it has nothing to do with them, it has to do with her and her current mindset. And honestly, this really resonated with me. If I mute you, I still have love for you, I have nothing against you, no ill will, I just don’t want to see your beautiful photos now. And that’s okay!
Repeat after me. Instagram is a highlight reel of everyone’s life. You’re most likely not going to see someone doing laundry, cleaning their toilet or having a breakdown. You’re going to see their vacation pictures and their winning photos. Think about what you post! Don’t you post the best of the best?
This is something I have to remind myself of especially since we see so much of someone’s life on social media that it’s hard to remember that as much as we see, we still don’t see everything.
Control The Narrative
I took a long social media break because there were certain aspects of my life I was really self conscious about. I kept thinking “oh people will judge me if I post that” or “people will probably talk about me if I share that” or “I can only imagine what everyone is saying about me because of this.” But, like my mom always says “No one knows anything about you unless you tell them.”
And it made me realize that I control the narrative and I control what I put out there and I control who I let into my life and what I want to share with them. And honestly I really love that anonymity to a certain extent. As much as I share on Instagram Stories or YouTube, there is also so much I don’t share. I feel like I used to share every fault I felt like I had and every downfall I experienced because I wanted to beat everyone to the punch. Like, oh you don’t need to tell me I suck, I know I do. I was very self-deprecating because that was my way to cope. But, I’ve moved a lot of my life offline and I no longer feel the need to document everything and anything and right now I’m choosing to share my wins and my positive moments.
Talk About It
When I tell you I struggle with this, I STRUGGLE with this. I tend to keep my emotions in. I have a bad habit of shutting down when I get upset and fold into myself. I don’t want to talk to anyone because I feel like I’m burdening them with my problems so I deal with it myself. Not great. I am aware. I’ve hit some really low points this past year and a half and I had to force myself to talk about it and ask for help. My best friend, Anna, has been an amazing support system for me. I can not tell you how many times I’ve facetimed her just to tell her I’m having a breakdown or tell her every irrational thought in my head and she instantly talks me off the ledge and helps me to see reason. I feel like I’m in a much better place mentally ever since I started opening up and talking through my feelings rather than letting it grow and develop inside me.
And when all else fails, just log off. It’s not that serious. In a world where we are all trying to be influencers or trying to grow a following on every and any social media platform, it feels like we can never take a break. We need to adapt to the algorithm and be consistent and keep going. And like, yeah sure, that’s great. But, at the end of the day, we need to take care of ourselves and while I may not have the most followers or the most likes, I enjoy my time away from it all to be able to take care of me.