Kaylee Crockett, Ph.D., clinical health psychologist at UAB, provides tips on how to take care of your mental health while using social media.
Written by: Caroline Newman
Media Contact: Anna Jones
Social media has revolutionized the way people communicate with each other. It allows users to stay in touch with friends and family and connect with different and diverse communities and cultures. But social media also has its downsides: information overload and glamorous imagery that might induce envy and comparison can have a negative impact on overall mental well-being.
So how can people manage their relationship with social media while maintaining their sanity? Kaylee CrockettPh.D., a clinical health psychologist and clinical researcher at the University of Alabama in the Department of Family and Community Medicine in Birmingham, says that while there are some risks associated with social media, there are many strategies that can be done to maintain their sanity. health when using social media.
Risk and benefit assessment
“Social media has both risks and benefits,” Crockett said. “It allows people to easily access different educational resources and forms of entertainment, it creates opportunities to network with others, and it empowers users to engage in social justice and activism. Unfortunately, social media use is also often linked to depression, anxiety, body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, insomnia, and other issues like trolling. , cyberbullying and loss of privacy.
With those risks in mind, Crockett says it’s important to keep in mind the time people spend on social media and other apps. Social media users can monitor the time they spend on these platforms by reviewing screen time data on their device or directly through certain social media platforms. Crockett says users need to ask themselves two questions: how much time do they spend on social media per day, and most importantly, do they agree with that number?
“Compare that to the time you spend on other activities that matter to you,” Crockett said. “If you don’t like what you see, start setting limits for accessing your device or scheduling blocks of time for other activities that interest you.”
Crockett refers to a study recently published in Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networks which shows that planning a break from social media leads to significant improvements in well-being, depression and anxiety.
Create a routine that works for you
After finding out how much time they spend on social media, users should try to pay close attention to how they feel when browsing social media.
“If you’re feeling lonely, left out, anxious, jealous, abused, traumatized, angry or depressed on social media, this may not be the best place for you,” Crockett said. “Consider removing some apps that are the worst off. Make a ground rule that if you’re already feeling sad or stressed, don’t use the default social media. Consider another self-care activity instead.
Self-care activities that can replace social media can include taking a walk outside, reading a book, keeping a journal, practicing yoga or meditation, calling friends, and family, inviting a friend to dinner, volunteering in the community, or joining community groups.
Finally, Crockett encourages people to ask themselves what role they want social media to play in their lives and to consider what steps they can take to make it happen.
Here are some tips she suggests for establishing a routine:
- For people who work in social media, focus on scheduling time to take care of social media tasks and then put social media away for the day.
- Set daily social media time limits and stick to them. Once the daily time limit is up, move on to other activities.
- Sharing part of your story on social media platforms can be risky. Be sure to share safely.
- Avoid using social media about an hour before bedtime and don’t scroll through social media in bed. Excessive use of social media and electronic devices near bedtime can negatively impact sleep quality and the amount of sleep one gets.
- When deciding which accounts to follow, consider the account’s purpose and why it’s important to follow that account. If there is no clear answer to these two questions, it might be time to unfollow these accounts.
Setting healthy boundaries with social media platforms can help users personalize their social media experience to make it a healthier place for them.