How to Prevent Your Social Media Feed from Affecting Your Mental Health

“I did it for the ‘gram,” or “Is it Facebook official?” are two commonly used phrases among many that reference the importance of being relevant and active on social media. Albeit, these phrases are often used in gest, they still illustrate how much society values social platforms. Unfortunately, our keen interest in these platforms is actively impacting our mental health whether we know it or not.

As a blogger and micro-influencer in the Dallas fashion scene, I come with a unique perspective on social media and what goes on behind each photo and caption. More importantly, I suffer from depression and I’ve had to learn to decipher the good from the bad and the real from the fake when scrolling through my social feeds. I know all too well how your perception of things is distorted online.

Perception is Everything

Scrolling through your social feeds can evoke a wide-range of emotions within a few seconds. An engagement announcement might stir up feelings of lost love while your friend’s vacation photos may excite you. However, it’s the negative emotions that we feel that impact our mental health more than others.

For example, an acquaintance on Facebook just posted photos of her new car- a car you’ve been wanting for months. You feel jealous and depressed while wondering how she can afford the car. Your perception is only half the story. In reality, she probably can’t afford it and it’s likely that she leased it. Leasing a car is cheaper than buying and if you’re looking for a status symbol without the commitment- it’s the way to go. No one has to know you can’t actually afford to buy it and it looks great on your social feeds.

Coming from the perspective of a blogger who posts curated photos for profit and to gain a larger following, I can assure you that this isn’t uncommon. When I first got into style blogging, I was so discouraged and admittedly jealous of other bloggers I knew who routinely posted photos of themselves in new, expensive outfits. “How are they affording this?” I thought. Finally, I asked a blogger what her secret was. She laughed and told me that she bought the outfit for the photos, snapped a few nice pictures of them, and then promptly returned the outfit. I was floored.

I realized that the beautiful photos of people I admired were a total lie. It was their highlight reel. The vacations, polished apartments, happy families, and fun nights out that friends were posting only told one side of the story. They neglected to tell the whole truth, which wasn’t always pretty and influenced my perception.

Key takeaway: People don’t share the bad parts of their life, only the good parts- the highlight reel.

Don’t Let it Take Over

Knowing these dirty little secrets of social media might feel liberating. Or it might leave you with more questions. How do we cope with social media and prevent it from taking over our lives and mental health? The answer to this might be different for everyone but here are a few tips to start:

– “Unfollow” people who publish things that make you feel negative emotion. If it makes you depressed, don’t let it in your feed. If you feel uncomfortable deleting someone on Facebook (i.e. you’ll hurt their feelings), the unfollow option is perfect for you!

– Stop and ask yourself how you feel and why you feel that way. Sometimes rationalizing our emotions can help us process them and move on.

-Limit your exposure to social media. According to a study from MediaKix, we’ll spend 5 years and 4 months of our lives on social platforms. Work to reduce your time scrolling through newsfeeds to keep a healthy balance.

-Take a break. Sometimes taking some time away from your favorite platforms can really help you refocus your emotions and give you some freedom from whatever it is that’s weighing you down. Whether it’s a month, week, or even a day- give it a try!

-Join a positive group on Facebook. If you want your newsfeed to be flooded with things that will make you happy, then join or even start a positivity group that shares uplifting messages. The more you engage with posts like these, the more Facebook’s algorithm will show them in your newsfeed!

Staying Happy on Social Media

If social media makes you happy more often than upset, then enjoy in moderation. However, if it hurts your mental health more often than not- then leave it! Facebook is a great way to keep up with friends and family and if we use it just for that purpose, then it can be a fantastic experience. If we’re using it for purposes that aren’t fruitful or contributing to our happiness, then why bother?

I believe it’s possible to stay happy and healthy while using social media, but it must be done within the confine of knowledge that not everything is as it appears and more importantly, it’s a leisure activity that we choose to engage in or ignore. Only you can make that choice for your mental health, so choose wisely!

 

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