Updated: Jan 13
Blog post written by Elizabeth Woor
In the era of COVID - 19, it is crucial that we keep our environments as positive as possible. This includes both in real life and across all our social media platforms. As we step into a new year, perhaps it’s time to consider how your own social media platforms may be affecting your mood?
Of course, social media provides a fantastic array of creativity, inspiration and happy memories. In 2020 we all undoubtedly shared a new – found appreciation for its ability to bring us closer to friends and family. In fact, the charity Mind found in a survey of all ages that 77% of people felt that chatting online helped them cope with the pressures of the pandemic.
However, despite the huge benefits to Social Media, it goes without saying that it can also cause considerable damage to our mental health. Since the start of the pandemic, many have experienced an increase in free time. In turn, this has increased the hours spent on our phones.
Digital illustration by Myer Short
Apps that exclusively run on visual imagery, such as Instagram and TikTok, are perhaps especially damaging when It comes to our mental health and self – image. These apps are saturated with influencers whose job it is to simply look ‘perfect’. The endless pressures to look incredible in every photo, buy the latest trends, have a flawless relationship or travel to luxurious destinations can make you feel like you’re constantly chasing an unreachable goal.
This isn’t to say that influencers are bad people or that you should unfollow them (I’m sure many are lovely), however, the constant exposure to posed perfection can easily lead to doubts of self – worth.
So, how can we help keep our Social Media positive?
1. Only follow accounts that promote morals and beliefs that align with your own. In other words, only keep up with accounts that make you feel good and bring enjoyment into your life rather than envy, guilt or sadness.
2. If you struggle to switch off, try having a social media daily allowance. In lockdowns, or even just days off, screen time can sky rocket. Start by trying to knock off half an hour and work up to longer break periods. A 2018 study by the University of Pennsylvania found that when we limit our social media usage to 30 minutes a day for 3 weeks, our mental health significantly improves.
3. Take time before your day/ before bedtime away from social media. Life is more than social media, make sure you take a minute to appreciate reality.
4. Try to not compare yourself to others. So much of social media is edited and many influencers/celebrities have had fillers or plastic surgery. Your natural body, hair and features are just as beautiful as any you see on Instagram.
5. Remember that followers do not equate to sincere, real relationships or define your worth. The person you’re jealous of for always having fun may actually be feeling lonely. Likewise, the person you admire with the model body could be struggling with self - confidence.
Social media is not going anywhere soon. If you’re still feeling exhausted from the pressures of online then you can even take a prolonged break from your phone by deleting the apps for a few days, weeks or months. It will always be there to come back to.
If you’re looking for accounts to follow that will boost your mood and confidence (other than @the_paintroom of course!), I recommend @gurlstalk, @positivedelight, @thehappynewspaper and the one and only, @lizzobeeating.