I honestly cringe when I hear people blame social media for their negative self-talk. Mainly because they come to the polarizing conclusion that social media is 100% bad and they log off for good. Funny enough, I enjoy social media—warts and all—because there are still countless positive and funny people that still use social media to keep others informed, encourage deep conversation, and flip off the haters. Not only that, but I use social media for this website as well as my full-time job.
Seriously, if all the good people left the internet/social media, then yes it would be 100% dumpster fire. But we’re still out here sharing the memes and celebrating the good stuff about life.
Anyway, I have a problem with the “all or nothing” mentality people have with social media. I hold the opinion that if you carefully curate your social media and have realistic expectations, you can do your mental health a favor.
If you’re on the fence about social media because of the toxicity, here are some ways I use social media to improve my mental health rather than let it destroy my well-being.
Know your Own Strengths & Weaknesses
I know people like to use the word “triggering” to make fun of Millennials but let’s ignore the haters for a spell. Yes, there are things that really mess with your self-esteem. Some accounts are too curated with perfect bodies, people who never seem to stop vacationing, or other people living your dreams. Basically, learn what triggers you and avoid those things. Maybe it’s a whole platform or certain accounts.
Also, I totally get it if you see your social media as a time-suck. So if you’re getting the feeling that it’s time to have a phone detox or limit your daily use, go for it! I think you’ll feel better for setting your own limits so you don’t feel guilty about how and why you use social media.
But I also know that many of you use social media to promote yourself or you use it for work. Kinda hard to go dark if you’re doing self-marketing, right? In that case, consider
- scheduling important posts in batches
- post less frequently on your socials
- get analytics up and running to quit strategies that aren’t working for you
- create more “real you” posts to share life behind the scenes
- learn about the recent trends and ditch older ones
- use social media to be kind and real
Tap into your strengths and weaknesses to take care of yourself—today. Write out your social media strengths and weaknesses until it’s clear what you can and can’t handle. Then, do the brave thing and make the changes you need. It won’t always feel this bad, I promise. Learning to pivot in favor of your mental health is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
Encourage Others to Break the Stigma With You
Nothing is really private anymore—no, not just because Facebook knows too much about you.
I mainly mean that the internet provides that paradox feeling super okay with vulnerability even though you may not know your followers super well. I’ve been very blunt and raw about some of the stuff I’m going through and it amazes me how kind and caring you have been towards me. You could say that the more open I’ve been about my writing and mental health adventures, the more I feel like I belong in my communities.
I’m an extrovert, a talker, and a deep-feeling person, so it makes sense to me to publish and share deep personal thoughts with others. I do it in the hopes that others will share their experiences, too. Or, I hope they’ll realize they’re not alone, either.
If you feel like the internet is a pretty yucky place, stand up and share your truth. Then, coax your online and/or real friends to shine their light on what their lives are really like. It’s healing and it combats the garbage trolls that seek to tear the good ones down. When someone shares something meaningful or inspiring, I try to let them know publicly or privately. We need all the encouragement we can get out here.
Keep IRL Friends Close
Even though I have a lot of online friends, I feel much better about myself when I’m enriching the close friendships I already have. It’s usually when I’m feeling my crummiest that I reach out to my local friends to do something fun and relaxing. Usually, it ends up enjoying good food and venting to each other.
A lot of social media negativity often stems from our need for validation. It’s not something that needs a one-and-done certificate or affirmation. Every human being needs a constant flow of validation—and it’s okay to want or need it. Unfortunately, we don’t really get what we need from social media. Or, maybe we do get validation but it leads us to constantly post to keep that flame of self-worth a-glow. A true friend in my book is someone who doesn’t want to see you remain miserable but will put in the time and effort to see you through until your mental health is in a better place.
So if it’s been a while since you’ve hung out with your besties or you feel like you don’t have close friends to meet with, I’d recommend tackling that first rather than using social media as a crutch.
Follow Other Positive Accounts
One way that I make social media work for me is by filtering out accounts that make me feel worse about myself and surrounding myself with positive people. You might need to go through your social media accounts monthly or quarterly to weed out the voices that don’t serve your mental health.
Below are some suggestions for positive accounts that I pooled from my own social media. Maybe they’ll brighten your accounts whenever you check in. Of course, you can always follow me at @whit2ney on Instagram where I try to practice what I preach.
- Barely Hare Books—Finding the Strength to Write When You’re Coping With Illness
- Lucy Flint—This Is How We Get Fiercely Productive and Fiercely Happy At the Same Time
- Mandy Wallace—Too Scared To Write? The One-Two Punch Approach That Finally Got Me Writing
- Mixtus Media—How to Choose the Right Social Media Outlet
- Mixtus Media—Should Authors #DeleteFacebook?
- Paper Fury—5 Underrated Writer Problems That NO ONE TALKS ABOUT
- Putting the Rope Down—Your Ass is Mine, ED
- Shannon Symonds—How to Avoid Being Eaten by a Bear
- Well Storied—10 Ways to Care For Yourself As a Writer
- Well Storied—Are You Ready to Conquer Writing Overwhelm?
- Well Storied—Creativity vs. Productivity: Finding Balance in Your Writing Life
- Well Storied—How do we write in times of strife?
- Wit & Travesty—5 Tips for Taking Care of Your Mental Health
- Wit & Travesty—How Revisiting My Imposter Syndrome Helped Me Grow
- Wit & Travesty—Why it’s (a Little Bit) Okay You Don’t Write Every Day
- Wit & Travesty—Woof—How Do We Avoid Self-Promo Burnout?
- Write Whale—Here Is The Best Anxiety Help For Writers
- Art by Moga
- EMM, not Emma.
- Encircle: LGBT+ Family & Youth Resource Center
- The Financial Diet
- I Heart My Body
- Introvert, Dear
- Riona – The Unnatural Woman
- Sarah’s Scribbles
This is just a short list, unfortunately. I mean, I know there are thousands of other positive accounts out there to follow. This isn’t meant to be a complete list.
But now I pass the baton to you. I’d love to see your lists of positive influences in your life, and I would love to see you praise these creators for their hard work. There’s nothing more precious than watching friends acknowledge each other’s greatness. It’ll do your mental health wonders to tell at least one person how much they mean to you.