Date published 15th April 2020
As countries around the world continue to encourage social distancing, the amount of time we spend inside and looking at screens is growing. Last week, some users saw that their iPhone usage reports showed as much as a 33% increase on their screen time!
It’s not hard to understand why; not seeing people in person means our phones are the best way to connect. We share updates on Facebook, insights into our lives on Instagram, news on Twitter and entertainment on TikTok.
But social media should be used carefully as it can sometimes make us feel overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve come up with 4 tips to protect your mental health online.
1. Try to limit your screen time
This may sound obvious but if you’re in the habit of picking up your phone several times a day to check Instagram, you may find yourself reaching for it almost unconsciously. Try to set yourself an allotted time to check messages and social media.
If you’re talking to someone face to face (or over Zoom) stay present at the moment without picking up your phone and scrolling through your feed. Finally, try to keep your phone and laptop out of your bedroom; a good night’s sleep is essential for good mental health, and social media before sleeping has been proven to disrupt it.
2. Do a social media detox
Did you know that studies show even a five-day detox from Facebook can lower stress and improve life satisfaction? You don’t need to give it up entirely (with the current situation it’s a great way to stay connected!) but even cutting back to 10 minutes a day per platform for three weeks was shown to combat loneliness and decrease depression.
Like with most things we enjoy, giving up can be difficult, so make it easier on yourself by taking steps like deleting the apps from your phone or telling your friends and family about your detox so you have a support network.
3. Exercise mindfulness
Mindfulness is a word we’ve all heard a lot in the past few years, although it can sometimes be unclear what it really means. Put simply, it is the act of asking yourself why you’re doing something before you do it. Perhaps you’re more likely to open Instagram when you have a university task to complete or essay to write? We all procrastinate sometimes!
When this happens, try asking you why you’re doing it – do you really want to check up on what your friends are up to or are you trying to put off writing your essay? Once you know the answer, you can make a decision that is productive and works for you.
4. Follow accounts that make you feel good
Social media is wonderful in so many ways. It can help you keep up with people who may have disappeared from your life otherwise, friends who live in other countries or even feel closer to people you admire. It can also be used to make you feel happy and inspired.
For you, that might mean following adorable animal accounts, motivational fitness gurus or talented artists – the best thing to do is simply follow the people and friends who put a smile on your face and encourage you in your own way.
Social media should be a way to express yourself and connect with others, make sure it’s as positive an environment for you as possible.