Today is World Mental Health Day, and here at Naturally Social, we’re passionate about wellbeing. Especially now as we’re all struggling and coping with what’s going on in the world in different ways, we need to talk about mental health more.
Within the team ourselves, we have dealt with bullying, anxiety, depression, and self-image issues, so we are very aware of the fact social media can sometimes feel like it’s amplifying negative voices and bullies and have all experienced it firsthand.
At the same time, we also know that social media is an amazing, wonderful thing, and it’s the key to staying connected with the people we care about in a world where we can’t see each other in person. To help you find a balance, we’ve put together some tips for screen time and using social media in a healthy way.
The first (and most important!) thing you need to do is evaluate who you’re friends with and who you are following. You have the power to decide what’s in your news feed, and you have every right to delete anything or anyone that isn’t serving you or bringing you joy.
Before we get into the technical side of things and explain different tools and settings, we just want to remind you that you can be honest with yourself and those around you when you need a break from social media and technology, and to say that what you see on social media doesn’t always reflect people’s lives. You may scroll through your feed and feel like you’re not doing as well as everyone around you, but you’re not always seeing the full story.
Keeping that in mind, let’s get into what tools are available on social media to manage our mental health and combat any negativity that comes up.
Within Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and your phone itself, there are ways to monitor how much time you’re spending on your screen and each app, and to set yourself reminders and limits when you’re reaching your maximum time for the day. Each of these apps also gives you the ability to turn off or pause notifications one-by-one.
If you see a post you don’t like on Facebook, there are three dots you can click to report or block hateful content. You can also check your privacy settings to make sure your posts are as private as you want them to be, and you can edit your news feed preferences to determine whose posts you want to see first, unfollow anyone you’d like to, and block certain words.
There’s a similar setting on Twitter, where you can “mute” potentially harmful words or phrases from coming up in your feed.
If you’d rather turn off all of your notifications for a while, you can schedule “Downtime” in your phone settings and silence notifications, and you can also set communication limits and boundaries for contacts to only be able to reach you during a certain time of day.
If you need a walk-through on any of these settings, check out our video with Natalie showing you how to do it all here.
Now that you know the key ways to curate your feed, pause and block, and limit your phone time, you also need to be self-aware when you scroll—ask yourself what you’re looking for, and why you logged on. Step away if you aren’t finding anything you enjoy.
Give yourself permission to turn over your phone if you need to, and have a conversation with yourself and with your family about what you can do away from your phone for self-care.
Some of our favourite ways to recharge away from social media are going for a walk or cycle, finding a DIY project to focus on, getting fresh air and spending time with pets, reading a book alone or out loud to your kids, dancing, drawing and colouring, or baking.
Even though our main advice has been about stepping away and taking a break, we want to wrap things up with a couple of ways to use social media positively and in a healthy way. Every platform, especially Pinterest, can be great ways to find and share recipes, projects, and activities to do at home or virtually with your loved ones.
Use social media to connect. Especially right now when we’re all struggling in our own ways, be kind to people, check in on the people you love, reach out if you haven’t heard from someone in a while or if you see someone post something that concerns you.
In situations where social media can be the only way to connect, we need to use it mindfully. We are all responsible for the content we create online, and we can decide what to share. Make sure you’re thinking before you retweet, remember to take care of yourselves, and keep being kind online and offline!