- Posted by Jon Harju
- On October 19, 2020
Most of us use social media on a semi-regular basis. It can be a very useful tool to stay connected to family and friends, but more recently with updates regarding COVID19 flooding our newsfeeds, social media has turned into a stressful and anxiety-provoking way to pass the time. When the government, news, and community are urging us to stay home, it’s easy to get stuck in a funk of binge-watching shows and mindlessly swiping on social media, but what people may not realize is the effect this can have on our mental health and overall wellbeing. This is the time when we need to take advantage of having some time at home and shift our focus to taking care of ourselves both physically and mentally.
Every morning, take the time to adhere to your pre-COVID routine. Get up at your regular time, take a shower, brush your teeth, cook breakfast for yourself or your family, and then plan your day from there. Try to eat your meals at the same time you normally would, and continue (or start) your exercise routine from home. Many gyms are offering home workout videos on social media, and there are hundreds of tutorials you can follow on sites such as Youtube for free. Keeping our routines as “normal” as possible can help keep us on track and assist us in feeling like we have more control over our lives as things unfold.
Limit Time Spent on Social Media
News surrounding COVID19 is everywhere you look on social networking sites. It’s no secret that incorrect information can be shared very quickly through sites like Facebook or Twitter, so try to limit your time surfing these sites and make sure you obtain your information from reputable sources such as the Government of Canada website or the World Health Organization. Some phones allow you to set limits on the time you have apps open- this might be a good way to force yourself into decreasing you’re your time spent on apps that cause you stress or anxiety. Before COVID19, studies showed that social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram led to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image, and loneliness. Mixing these already negative side effects of social media with lack of face to face socializing with peers, limited contact with friends and extended family, and the fear of contracting COVID19 could cause individuals who do not typically have mental health struggles to begin to experience anxiety or depression.
Stick to Friends and Family
Many of us are guilty of trying to keep track of what celebrities are doing on social media, but let’s face it – we all know that celebrities have an entourage who assist with their daily tasks such as professional makeup artists, hairdressers, stylists, photographers, and photo editors all to make their photos look as “perfect” as possible. These unrealistic images do nothing but harm to our self-esteem. Many people begin to compare themselves to celebrities not realizing that the photos have been edited drastically which can cause negative thoughts or depression. Try stick to following only your friends and family on social media for a more realistic, natural-looking feed. This will also allow your feed to show you content posted by people you know and care about, rather than getting bombarded with what the algorithm thinks you want to see.
Turn Off Notifications
For some, the little red bubble next to the app is impossible to ignore and can be anxiety-provoking on its own. Turning off notifications will help to eliminate the impulse to check your social platforms. Turning off push notifications will also help to keep your mind off of the potential negative stories that you otherwise would have been prompted to read. In some cases, having a phone-free day can lessen stress and help you clear your head for a short amount of time.
Like most things in life, social media is good in moderation. It’s a fantastic tool that allows us to easily stay connected with individuals that we otherwise would have trouble communicating with. However, knowing ways to protect your mental health is very important for anyone who chooses to download an app of this sort. Our need for a sense of community right now is heightened, and resources have been put in place to meet with mental health professionals from home in order to follow social distancing guidelines. If things are really hard for you right now, reach out to someone- if you do not have a therapist, reach out to a friend or family member, or the crisis line (Ottawa 613-722-6914, outside of Ottawa 1-866-996-0991) We’re all in this together.
Social Media’s Impact on Self-Esteem | HuffPost | February 22, 2017
Teens are Divided on the Impact of Social Media | American Psychiatric Association | June 7, 2018
Social Media Effects on Teens | Impact of Social Media on Self-Esteem | Child Mind Institute
5 Ways Social Media Affects Teen Mental Health | Sherri Gordon | September 19, 2018