Social media has evolved into an integral part of our lives. As such, people spend more time in using social networking sites to connect and maintain relationships, to work and coordinate with colleagues, and to create and improve businesses. In terms of mental health, social media use is one of the topics that continues to be of keen interest for researchers. Trends suggest that social media and smartphones play an integral role in the routines and culture of young adults (Bettmann et. al., 2020). Although such trends have been explored in young adults, the emotional experiences of social media use may be felt by other age groups. Bekalu et.al. (2019) mentioned that individuals who are emotionally connected to social media use might as well be those who have already been experiencing one or another form of mental disorder.
As social media becomes intricately woven into wider areas of society, it is crucial that users reflect and become aware of how their personal usage affects their own mental health. According to a Hampton et. al. (2015), it is possible that technology users — especially those who use social media — are more aware of stressful events in the lives of their friends and family, and this increased awareness of stressful events in other people’s lives may contribute to the stress people have in their own lives.
When stress becomes overwhelming, and we lack the coping mechanisms to manage the changes in our environment such as the news and updates we see in social networking sites, burnout may be inevitable. Below are some suggestions (from various sources) to protect yourself, and to maintain good mental health:
- Change your focus.
- Spend more time with offline friends (P.S. Follow health protocols when doing so J)
- Express gratitude.
- Limit when and where you use social media.
- Have ‘detox’ periods.
- Pay attention to what you do and how you feel.
- Approach social media mindfully; ask ‘why?’
- Prune (ie. Unfollow, mute or hide contacts)
- Stop social media from replacing real life.
Everyone shares a part (if not most) of themselves in social media. Let’s acknowledge and be cautious about the dangers of social media. As quoted by Erik Qualman, “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”