A close up of a phone with social media

Stepping back from social media to protect your mental health

There’s no denying that social media has become a significant aspect of all of our lives, especially during the last year of lockdowns. It has allowed us to keep in contact with family, friends and loved ones where we otherwise couldn’t for the sake of everyone’s health. But it isn’t always the most positive space to be in, and it can be important at times to take a step back to look after yourself. However, it isn’t always easy to know when. While it may differ from person to person, here are some signs to look out for when it might be time for a social media detox.

Screen time

We’ve all gotten distracted and accidentally scrolled through social media for far longer than we planned to before – it happens! However, if this is happening on a regular basis, you may want to consider the impact large amounts of screen time are having on your mental health. If it begins to take up large amounts of your time, try turning off your device and forcing yourself to do something else. Maybe try a new hobby, or do some errands you’ve been putting off.

Woman on phone in the dark

Feeling lonely?

If you are feeling lonely or isolated when spending a lot of time on social media, it could be time to reconnect with the real world. Meet up with friends at the park or a cafe, go to the cinema, or even just take yourself for a walk. We all need some face-to-face interaction every now and then, so step away from social media and meet up with someone in real life.

Stay positive!

Make a point to consider the effect social media is having on your mood. If you notice you are often feeling more negative after using social media, you might want to consider taking a break. This could be anything from being upset over something happening elsewhere in the world, or jealousy towards someone you know. Also consider whether these feelings are short-term or affecting your whole day. If you are finding that time you spend off social media is still negatively impacted by things you saw on social media, consider stepping away for your mental health.

Neon sign demonstrating 0 likes

It isn’t a competition

Getting lots of likes and comments on a new post can be a great feeling, but sometimes worrying about the numbers can become a point of stress or anxiety, and at this point, it is a good idea to take a social media break. It can be really nice to feel supported and celebrated by friends and loved ones online, but it should not have a significant impact on your mental health and you shouldn’t feel like you are competing with everyone else.

Stepping away doesn’t always have to mean completely removing yourself, deleting all apps and accounts etc., sometimes it can be as simple as turning off your notifications for certain apps. This way you can look at them on your own terms, instead of being drawn into checking what’s going on. You could also designate a specific app or site you feel doesn’t have a negative impact on your mental health for communicating with certain people so that you are not entirely unreachable if needed, and ask that anyone who wishes to speak to you use that. 

The most important thing is to ensure you set boundaries you feel comfortable with, and that these boundaries are respected by those around you, as well as making sure you still have access to a support system should you need it, whether that is in person or online. 

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