Social Media and Our Mental Health

Social media is firmly embedded into our society, with many of us using these platforms for personal and business use. 

With so much of our time lived out through digital devices and social networking platforms, how can we ensure that we maintain some sense of balance and protect our mental health at the same time?

With social media use increasing, how can we use it safely and keep up to date with our favourite platforms, whilst protecting our mental health? 

Here are some of our best tips.

Get enough sleep

We know from research that there may be a link between depressive symptoms and sleep (Adams & Kisler, 2013; Lemola et al, 2015; Primack et al, 2008 and Thomée et al, 2007), therefore practising good sleep hygiene is important for all of us. 

We can run into problems with this if we are checking social media before bed as we may not only encounter blue light interference (which can disrupt our natural sleep patterns), but we also run the risk of seeing or reading something that will play on our minds and stop us from sleeping. 

As chronic lack of sleep can be implicated in cases of anxiety and depression (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019), ensuring we get enough sleep could go a long way to protecting our mental health.

Set time limits on social media apps

If you think about social media app timelines, they have no finite end.  This means as users we must be disciplined to close the app to avoid endless scrolling. Setting a time limit on your phone or tablet can help you to monitor your social media use. 

This can be a useful exercise to see exactly how much time you are spending on social media - results can often be surprising!

Have a social media free day

Social media free days are becoming increasingly popular, particularly for those who use social media for business and pleasure.

Having a day or weekend off from social media can help you to recalibrate and eliminate the ‘noise’ surrounding these platforms.  It also allows you to be fully present and free from digital distractions.

Turn off notifications

Notifications can be anxiety inducing, particularly when they incessantly ping through on your phone while you are engaged with something or someone else. 

Turning off notifications can be incredibly useful as it quietens down an aspect of your life which you may feel overwhelmed with.

Unfollow accounts which you find upsetting or annoying

Having a cleanse of the accounts you follow on social media can be helpful.  Your timeline is your timeline, and depending on your point of view you may only want to follow accounts which you enjoy and make you feel happy, engaged, motivated, inspired etc.

If unfollowing is not an option for some accounts (for example a friend or family member) the mute function can also be useful.

Social media isn’t going away, so it is important to be aware of the ways in which you engage with social media use to ensure that your mental health is protected.

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Zoe Walters

As a recent MSc in Education graduate, I'm currently CACHE Manager for Open Study College. I have a special interest in children and young people's mental health.

Social Media and Our Mental Health