We, humans, are social creatures by nature. As such, we enjoy connecting with others on social media platforms to share photos and celebrate milestones. As a means of staying socially connected to friends and family, social media can be a wonderful tool.
Social media apps, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, are intentionally designed to reel us into that infinite scrolling behavior. We waste hours of our daily lives glued to these feeds devouring the never-ending posts, many written by complete strangers. Almost zombie-like we stare at our phones, unable to wrest ourselves free from the feeds’ lure.
The problem is that when we don’t modulate social media it can contribute to stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem. To enjoy the positive effects of social media while sidestepping the negative it is essential to use the platforms with intention and awareness. When you find yourself feeling upset, angry, or sad while using social media it is time to take a break, or at a minimum to delete the accounts that contribute to these negative mental health effects.
Benefits of Social Media
When Facebook launched back in 2004, it was enthusiastically received. While initially starting off as a college social connection tool, by 2008 people of all ages began signing up for a Facebook account. How wonderful it was to be able to look up old classmates and friends who had drifted out of our lives over the years.
As more and more social media platforms joined the party, people signed up for multiple apps. Over time, we began spending more and more hours glued to our smartphones. As fun as these new social media toys were back then, they were definitely beginning to take a dominant role in our lives. We had become hooked on socializing.
There are definite benefits we can attribute to social media. They help us stay up to date on world events, we can feature and grow our business ventures on these platforms, we can share photos of our cute kids and grandchildren, and we can post anything from music to recipes to movie reviews. We can join groups of like-minded folks, we can advertise items we want to sell, and we can share holiday festivities as an online community all through social media.
While sharing and connecting through social media apps has generally been considered a positive technological development, there are some significant pitfalls to address.
3 Ways to Have a Healthy Social Media Relationship
In recovery, it is critical that we remain ever mindful of the state of our mental health. When you find that using social media causes you to feel bad about yourself, or that you get agitated over the posts you read, it is time to take a step back and review its role in your life.
Practice these three tips to keep your relationship with social media a healthy one:
- Know When It’s Time to Take A Break. The increasing political divisiveness that has been permeating social media platforms over the last several years has had a negative impact on the social media experience. While it may be difficult to totally disengage from social media, you can clean up the list of people you follow. First, delete or mute the people who constantly stir up negative emotions with their posts. Consider even taking a month off from social media completely, as it can be very freeing.
- Ask How Being on Social Media Serves Your Best Interests. What do you get out of being on social media? Do you really have meaningful conversations with people on these platforms, or is social media used to quell boredom or loneliness? If the latter, ask yourself if reading through your feed makes you feel happier or worse about your own life. Going through this process will help you identify whether being on social media serves you well, or if it is a source of distress.
- Establish Healthy Social Media Habits. We have all heard the adage, “Do everything in moderation” to maintain health and wellbeing. This is especially true for our daily social media use. To better manage the time you spend on these platforms, put yourself on a schedule. You can spend 30-minutes in the morning, 30-minutes at lunchtime, and 30-minutes in the evening on the platforms. Turn off push notifications to limit the constant distractions.
Social media is definitely here to stay, and continuously growing. The key is learning how to control your social media accounts instead of letting these platforms control you. Try these tips and enjoy the benefits of social media without the negativity.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.