As a business owner who wants to network and grow your business, you need to be active on social media. As someone who wants to stay in touch with friends and acquaintances, or stay caught up on local events, you may find social media very engaging and effective. However, studies show there can be negative effects from using social media if we’re not intentional about our usage. The dopamine hit we get from likes and comments can also have the reverse effect – anxiety, loneliness, and depression – when engagement is down. Studies show the less time spent on social media, the happier we are.
We are just the tap of a screen away from the outside world at any given time. It can be difficult to disengage and walk away, especially knowing how quickly the newsfeed moves. Commonly known as FOMO (fear of missing out), this feeling that we may miss out on something important if we unplug can keep us in a mindless scrolling loop. Not to mention, most people post their highlights on social media and it can quickly feel like we don’t measure up. Families without dysfunction, vacations we didn’t take, parties we weren’t invited to – all of these compared with our own realities can deeply affect our feelings of happiness.
When our world faces political upheavals and pandemics, spending too much time online “doomscrolling” can increase feelings of anxiety or fear. According to Wikipedia, “doomscrolling is the act of spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of dystopian news.” And let’s not get started on the polarizing political opinions that seem to be freely – and sometimes aggressively – shared on social media.
Don’t lose hope! There are ways to use social media responsibly and still keep your mental health intact.
Here’s what we suggest:
Set up time blocking. Schedule chunks of time in the day to check your accounts and stick to those times. Remove the apps from your mobile device if needed, or consider using a mindfulness app that monitors your social media usage and sends you reminders. We’re not above using tech to conquer tech!
Take a break. Social media breaks are important to help you re-centre and reset. Occasionally do a “screen detox” where you don’t touch your phone for a few days. You may find you think more clearly and feel calmer.
Keep your bedroom device free. If you must have your phone in your bedroom, avoid checking your notifications as soon as your eyes pop open. Keep “Do Not Disturb” turned on until you’re ready to get to work!
You control what you consume. Feel free to hit unfollow on accounts (or friends!) that you find repeatedly make you feel upset or anxious. You are in complete control of your newsfeed.
Social media can be a useful tool, for both business and social purposes. When we’re aware of the possible negative effects, we can be proactive in caring for our mental health.