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With such an enormous focus on maintaining physical health right now, it’s easy to forget the importance of looking after your mental health as well. One helpful way to look after yourself during this time is to re-think and adjust how you use social media. If you’re a social media user, we probably don’t need to tell you that the information being shared across popular services such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is bleaker and more overwhelming than ever. However, there are ways around this.
We’ve listed a few tips below to help you improve your social media experience and hopefully lift your mood as a result!
Unfollow things that make you feel bad…
As a first step, take some time to purge your newsfeed of stressful, unhelpful and generally negative sources of information. Scroll through your feed and take note of people, pages and groups that tend to post things that make you feel down, then unfollow them. This could mean news organisations, overactive friends and family members or groups whose members argue regularly.
On Facebook, you can actually unfollow or “snooze” people without unfriending them, so you can hide their posts without them knowing. Instagram and Twitter have similar “muting” features. All of these features are discreet and reversible so you can refollow or unmute others at any time without alerting them.
… and follow things that make you feel good!
Now that you’ve rid your newsfeed of negative people, pages and groups, it’s time to start replacing them with things that make you smile! This will be different for everyone but here are a few ideas:
- Celebrities or public figures you look up to
- Pages or groups related to your hobbies and interests
- Meme or joke pages (because laughter is the best medicine!)
- Neighbourhood groups (search for your town or suburb on Facebook and see if there’s a group for people in your area)
- Support groups
It’s easy to feel silly for filling your newsfeed with “fluff” while the world is in crisis but really, there’s no need to. World news will still be available to you if and when you search for it – the idea is to limit how much you are exposed to when you’re not searching for it.
Use your clicks wisely
If you’ve spent any time on social media, you’ve probably noticed that these sites have a strange way of knowing what you’re up to. Maybe you were browsing the web for a new pair of sneakers and now your newsfeed is filled with ads and posts about shoes. Spooky, right?
The reason this happens is that social media sites use algorithms to adjust what appears in your newsfeed based on your activity. As unnerving as that may be, you can actually use the algorithms to your advantage. If you engage with posts that make you happy (through clicking, liking, commenting and sharing), you’re much more likely to see these sorts of posts pop up on your feed. If you see something on your feed that upsets you, resist the temptation to click and scroll on by instead – the service you’re using will soon catch on and stop prioritising these posts.
Limit time spent on social media
While the tips listed above will help improve your overall social media experience, the best way to avoid social media burnout is to limit the amount of time you spend using these services. Try setting yourself a daily “allowance” of time to spend on social media – 30 to 60 minutes is ideal. If self-control isn’t your strong suit, there are apps you can download that will help you track and manage how much time you’re spending on social media every day.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re not checking social media first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed. If this is something you do, try keeping your electronics outside of your bedroom so that you’re not tempted.