Over the last couple of weeks I have heard so many friends, collegues and even a podcast pop onto my stream about the stress Social Media gives them. Some have taken a break from their feeds, and I know others who have deleted their accounts entirely.
The fact that social media has an impact on our mental health is nothing new, but a new study published by the Royal Society for Public Health has compared different platforms to assess the impact they pose on our mental health. The poll asked 1,479 people aged 14-24 to score the most popular social media apps on 14 concerns including anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and body image. Perhaps unsurprisingly, image-based platforms came out on top, with Instagram rated the worst for mental health, out of a list including Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
There are plenty of studies which show that social media affects our mental health, but very few that try to suggest solutions other than to stop using it. I know that sticking your head in the sand isn’t always a good move, especially when you have a business to run, so let me share some tips with you that I have learned over the last 3 years of running up to 60 feeds at a time!
IT IS YOUR SPACE.
I’m gonna lead with this one. YOU can control what you see on your social media. There is a block, mute or report button on every platform that lets you tailor your feed to suit you. Don’t want to offend your auntie but CBA to hear about your cousin’s new baby 24/7? Unfollow. Instagram stories too moany? Mute. Someone being downright mean? BLOCK AND UNFOLLOW.
Treat your feed like a magazine that only you get to curate. You should be able to log on and know that only feel good things or your favourite people will appear!
There are so many scaremongering ‘fake news’ facts out there flying around, its easy to get anxious about ‘doing the internet right’. But I’ll let you in on a secret – there are VERY minimal rules and laws that give us guidance. Sure, there are social etiquette and best practices, but let’s be clear, if the platform lets you do something, you can do it. (see: Shadowbanning is not a thing, the repost button is there for a reason, as is the use of 30 hashtags on Instagram).
If you are worried about something, simply tweet/ask/research the topic to the powers that be and get the answers straight from the horses mouth. Not some hack blogger wanting to gain traffic through click bait.
DECIDE WHO YOU WANT TO BE.
As per #1 – this space is yours. You don’t need to follow someone just because they follow you and we’ve all been internetting for long enough to know that when we show up online, we mostly share our shiny best selves. So who do you want be online? Do you want to be mummy? Or a badass boss babe? Maybe you share your social life but keep work quiet, or its a business account and so who needs to hear about the kids?
I love a social media alter ego and sure, we all want to be #authentic, but in a world where being out there and on it every day of the week is not only nervewracking but also tiring (noone ACTUALLY wakes up like that!!) the best advice I have is hone your brand. Personal or business, we all have a story to tell, and stick to.
IS IT THE BEST PLACE FOR YOU?
I know of writers who love Twitter, but can’t get on with Instagram. Equally, I could spend all day on Instagram but ain’t got time for YouTube!
If something makes you uncomfortable, roll your eyes or sigh with dispair, chances are its not your best place, and your followers will recognise that! If you hate Facebook, don’t dedicate your time to it. Why are you spending hours researching hashtags when you have rubish stock images to share on the ‘gram? I love taking photos and producing them for clients, so insta is my jam. Ask me to network on Twitter or LinkedIn, however, and I will need a strong coffee and a bar of Galaxy to do so. C’est la vie
We don’t need to be everywhere, for everyone. My friends know to whatsapp, not text me, and never ever leave me a voicemail. Also I have a mate I only ever Insta DM! Pick your space and your people will find you.
USE SANITY FILTERS
If I were to be on social media every day, all day (which is largely my job), I would suffer from information overload and my brain would go into meltdown. I don’t need to see what my client’s mates are up to on holiday! So I use tools that filter the good stuff, and mean I don’t need to logon to a variety of platforms and sift through the junk. I reccommend Hootsuite for this (especially for Facebook pages and Twitter hashtag filters).
If an app isn’t for you, how about setting a time restraint or your own best practice guidelines? I have a client that has Facebook Messenger open in its own tab on her PC, so that she doesn’t get distracted by her newsfeed. I am also a fan of using whatsappweb so that I can ignore my phone for most of the day.
Do you have any tips to add to my list?
Take it from me, FOMO is real and comparison really IS the thief of joy, so I really reccommend taking a look at any of those tips above to give your social a new spring feel!