Social networks give us great opportunities to communicate and search for information, but excessive interest in them is fraught with negative consequences: information overload, low self-esteem, anxiety… How to protect your mental health without giving up the benefits of online platforms? Here are some simple guidelines.
1.USE SOCIAL NETWORKS CONSCIOUSLY
First of all, you should ask yourself: how, why and how often do you use social networks? Do you need them for work? For communication? To search for like-minded people? Maybe as a source of inspiration? Perhaps they help you stay in touch with family and friends? Or allow you to consult with others in difficult situations?
These sites and many of their users have their own goals and objectives – basically to sell us something. It is important to remember this and be aware of exactly what you are spending your time and energy on.
How to understand if you are using social networks productively or to your detriment? Often, all you need to do is ask yourself what kind of emotions they evoke, more positive or negative, and whether you need to spend so much time on them.
Research shows that the state of mindfulness helps us to better see what is happening to us right here and now, allows us to think more calmly and rationally. By using social media consciously, you will be able to understand what experiences they cause you most often, and draw appropriate conclusions.
2.BE ACTIVE, NOT PASSIVE
Research data confirms that passive use of social networks – constantly checking the news feed for updates and “doom scrolling” – negatively affects our psyche. We begin to compare ourselves with others, envy them, anxiety and depressive symptoms arise.
However, these sites can give us a lot (communication, a sense of unity with others) if we use them more actively and productively – by corresponding with interesting people, sending our own messages and leaving constructive comments.
Subscribe to users who bring you joy and positive emotions, share their messages, comment on them. Join online communities of like-minded people, make new friends. Pay attention to who subscribes to you, block those who bring only one negative.
3.GIVE YOUR REST
Psychologists don’t yet know exactly what effect the rejection of social networks has in the long run. But quite a few studies show that short-term weekly periods of “digital rest” have a beneficial effect on our psychological state, reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms. Such breaks are especially good for those who spend a lot of time on social networks or use them only for passive browsing.
If you feel like you’re spending too much time and energy on social media, give yourself a break. You can take breaks for a few hours every day, one day a week, or take a “holiday” for the whole week. Start small and listen to your feelings. There are apps that can help you track how much time you spend on these sites and allow you to set limits if necessary.
4.DON’T LET SOCIAL MEDIA CONTROL YOU
Research shows that taking a break from social media is especially beneficial for those who tend to be jealous of other users. It is important to remember that these sites are just a tool, and only you decide how you will use it.
Block users who upset you in some way or constantly cause negative emotions (or simply unfollow them). You can even file a complaint against them if they offend others or violate platform rules.
Learn what user settings are available on the social network. For example, if you tend to worry about others getting more likes, you can turn off showing the number of likes altogether or adjust your feed so that you do not see those who provoke negative feelings there.
Understand how privacy settings and algorithms that select personal content work. Perhaps it is because of them that you often come across materials that cause hostility and negative feelings.