It was announced this month that the Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling for research into the effects of social media on mental health of young people. Actually, there is already plenty of research from around the world, which reveals very clearly the social media is addictive and often makes people unhappy, anxious, and feel bad about themselves. This is true of adult users as well as young users.
Sure, these sites are great for keeping in touch with family and friends, finding out what events are happening locally or reaching out to special interest groups that you might not otherwise be able to converse with. Businesses – including Sheffield Central Counselling of course – welcome the chance to use facebook or twitter to let people know about goods, services and events.
But if you DO have a feeling that you’d be happier using social media a bit less, here are three tips to help with that:
Do An Audit
Set aside some time to list things that you currently use social media for. Decide which sites leave you feeling bad most often. There may be some which are fine and don’t really bother you, but if you are frequently feeling demoralised by FOMO on Facebook, or by culture wars on Twitter, then that tells you where to focus on making a change.
Write a list with two columns: things that you HAVE to use your social media for, and things you are going to do in another way, or not do at all.
Limit your Exposure
Most of us have smart phones, and maybe other devices like a computer or tablet. In light of the audit above, do you need to have ALL your social media on ALL your devices? The phone is the most portable device and therefore probably the most used for viewing social media.
Screens before sleep are overstimulating and often lead to problems in getting to sleep. Ensuring that you leave your phone out of the bedroom can make a great change for some people. If you feel you can’t do that, then at least if it doesn’t have social media on it, you won’t be trying to sleep while feeling anxious or riled up from people’s posts.
Think of social media as a big warehouse that you have to visit sometimes - maybe one of those amazing shops like Harrods or Ikea. We have all had the experience of entering a big store to buy ONE thing, and ending up coming out with a whole lot of stuff we didn’t really need. So, as with a shopping trip, try making a list before you log into your profile. I am here to do X, Y and Z, and then I’m going to leave.
It is worth remembering that social media sites are DESIGNED to suck us in, if not with pleasing content, then with controversial or shocking material. The longer we are in the warehouse, the more advertising we see, the richer we make some millionaires and the unhappier we make ourselves. Keep me logged in? No thanks.