Practising self-care on social media is one way to look after your mental and emotional well-being while still engaging in the wonders of social networking.
With a reported 4.48 billion people worldwide (that’s 57% of the world’s population) engaging in social media, social networking sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have never been more popular.
For the most part, the limited studies that we do have show that casual social media use can have a neutral or even a positive affect on mental health and mindset, as it gives people a place to make new friends, talk about their problems, and explore other peoples’ points of view in a safe environment.
However, mental health issues can arise when people become too attached to social media.
Constantly refreshing your feeds, checking notifications, and becoming obsessed with social media platforms can reportedly result in increased chances of depression and anxiety.
This makes perfect sense, right?
When you’re constantly looking towards external sources for validation and reward – in this case, social media – you’re going to start struggling to conjure these feelings from within yourself.
Therefore, you’re going to keep seeking them from social media in order to get that dopamine hit.
(Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for feeling rewarded and happy; you usually get it from completing tasks, playing video games, eating tasty food, and other…adult activities. Refreshing your social media feed and/or getting likes on social media creates the same response. Social media platforms know this and design their apps accordingly.)
With an estimated 210 million people suffering from social media addiction, it’s likely that problems surrounding it and our mental health are going to start to popping up as we find out more about this relatively new way of socialising.
With this in mind, practising self-care on social media has never been more important.
Firstly, what does practising self-care on social media – aka social media self-care – mean?
Practising self-care on social media means taking care of your mental and emotional needs while still engaging in social media. It means prioritising your mindset and mental health over likes on your Instagram account or retweets on Twitter. It means focusing on and expending energy on the positives that come with being on social media, and setting boundaries to minimise the negatives.
So, how do you practise social media self-care exactly?
#1. Curate your own feed
One of the wonderful things about social media is that you are in charge of what you see on your feed.
You get to see what you want, follow the types of accounts you want, and block out anything or anyone else.
What’s more, most algorithms work in your favour.
What do I mean by this?
Well, they want to keep you on their platform. Therefore, they’re mainly going to show you content that you want to see and engage with so that you’ll stay there, continue scrolling, and see (and hopefully click on) the platform’s paid ads.
Therefore, the content you engage with is the content that will show up on your feed.
When you see something you like, make sure to show the platform that you like it by liking, commenting on or sharing the content (this also helps out content creators), and ignore anything that you don’t want to see more of.
#2. Unfollow negative influences and influencers
‘Hate following’ – aka following someone whose views you vehemently disagree with or whom you dislike – seems like a waste of time to me.
While some people may get a buzz from this (I’m certainly not one of them), it’s usually mentally draining.
It’s good to expose yourself to a wide range of points of view, granted, but constantly getting riled up by topics and opinions that you actually find uncomfortable or even traumatic to read about isn’t healthy.
What’s more, following people who make you feel ugly, unworthy, or negative about yourself isn’t great for your well-being either.
These people don’t have to be bad or negative people, but if their message impacts you in a negative way, this can be a recipe for disaster.
For example, if you’re recovering from an eating disorder, following weight loss Instagram accounts is only going to most likely hamper your recovery.
The people running these accounts aren’t necessarily bad people; their message just doesn’t resonate with you in a positive way anymore.
The great thing is: you don’t have to follow these people.
Simply hit the unfollow or even ‘block’ button and watch the negativity disappear from your life.
#3. Follow uplifting, inspiring people whose message resonates with you
Now that you’ve cut down on not only the amount of people you’re following, but the amount of negativity you’re exposing yourself to, you can have a think about who you DO want to follow.
Follow people who make you feel positive, hopefully, supported, and good about yourself.
Once you follow a few people of a similar niche, most social media platforms will start to suggest similar people to follow.
You don’t have to do this all at once. Simply take it day-by-day, removing and adding people who align with your new, positive mindset.
#4. Use the ‘mute’ and blacklist features on social media platforms
Most social media platforms have handy mute and blacklist features.
Blacklisting certain words or phrases no Twitter is handy for avoiding topics you’re either sick to death of or find distressing to read about.
You can do this via the Twitter app by going to Settings and Privacy > Content Preferences > Muted > Muted Words > Add.
Here, you can customise how long you want the word or phrase to be muted for, where you want it to be muted, and who you ward the muted for.
Muting on Twitter and Instagram (or ‘snoozing’ on Facebook) stops certain people’s posts showing up on your feed.
- Twitter: Tap the three little dots to the right of someone’s username when their tweet shows up on your timeline and click ‘mute’.
- Instagram: Go to the person you want to mute’s profile, tap on ‘following’ and it’ll show you a list of options, mute being one of them.
- Facebook: When someone you want to ‘snooze’ appears on your timeline, tap the three dots next to the right of their name and then simply select the option to snooze.
This is good for when you don’t necessarily want to unfollow or block someone (for example, family members), but don’t want to see what they’re post.
#5. Set boundaries and limits on social media
Just like with ‘regular’ self-care in real life, setting boundaries when it comes to self-care on social media is just as important.
Set times limits or limit the amount of time you spend on specific platforms if you find it’s taking a toll on your mental health.
Also set boundaries with yourself on what you post online.
#6. Only post when and what you want on your social media profile
Most social media profiles are highlight reels of people’s wins, which isn’t realistic and often demotivates us when we look at our own boringly, normal lives.
However, most of these people do have normal lives, just like you and me, they just don’t post the mundane stuff or bad days.
What’s more, a lot of content creators have to post regularly in order to stay relevant in the algorithm and get their content noticed.
This puts pressure on people who don’t necessarily earn their living through social media to constantly be posting. And not only posting, but posting amazing, ground-breaking posts that get tons of likes and engagement.
Of course, it’s totally down to you what you post on your social media profile. However, I just want to remind you that you don’t have to post every day, every week, or ever, if that’s not what you want.
Social media is supposed to be fun and you can choose to use it however you want.
Whether that’s posting cool pictures, or simply lurking and engaging with other people’s content.
Don’t succumb to the pressure to expose everything about yourself or post things you’re not comfortable with sharing.
#7. Take time away from social media
It’s always good to take time away from social media in addition to setting boundaries and personal limits on how much time you spend on it.
Putting down your phone, breaking the cycling of doom-scrolling, and enjoying real in person is amazing for your mindset, sense of clarity, and mental health.
Getting away from social media helps you put real life into perspective and learn about what’s really valuable to you.
I invite you to take a day or two off of social media every couple of weeks just to live your life.
#8. Find self-worth from within, not external validation
Getting likes and engagement on your social media posts gives us a false sense of validation.
The problem with this is that we get used to that buzz.
Those notifications are specifically set up to give you a little dopamine hit. This makes you feel good, so you keep going back for more.
When you work on your sense of self-worth and self-esteem away from social media, you begin to realise what an amazing person you are without this external validation.
Some ways to improve your sense of self-worth are:
- Being kind to yourself and others
- Shadow work
When you get to know who you really are and know what you’re truly about, you’ll realise that all those likes and comments mean very little in the grand scheme of things.
Just because you get less likes on one photo over another doesn’t make you less worthy than you were. You’re still you. It doesn’t matter.
#9. Take part in other social activities away from social media
Human beings are social creatures.
Even us introverts needs social interacts sometimes.
Social media is brilliant because it gives us that sense of human interactions without even having to leave our homes.
However, this isn’t without its downfalls.
Online interactions can begin to feel forced and inauthentic.
While they can be great, especially if you’re isolated from a lot of your friends in real life, it’s not a proper substitute for real, one-on-one human interaction in person.
Try to make sure you’re speaking with your friends in person and taking part in activities you enjoy away from social media.
#10. Practise everyday self-care
As well as self-care for social media, it’s important to maintain a solid self-care routine in your day-to-day life.
Self-care keeps our mental, emotional, and physical well-being in a good place, helps relieve the symptoms of mental health issues, and keeps our mindset balanced.
Some self-care activities you can do aside from social media self-care are:
- Moving your body in a way that you enjoy
- Nourishing your body
- Maintaining personal hygiene
- Taking medication that you need
- Setting and enforcing boundaries
- Learning to say ‘no’
- Seeing a therapist
When all of this is combined with social media self-care, your mind will be in a much better place.