I’m going to come right out and say it. You’re the reason your social media is toxic to your mental health. It’s time to take responsibility for your own wellness with a social media detox.
It’s no secret suicide, body image issues, anxiety, eating disorders, and depression rates have skyrocketed over the last decade, even the last year. This is such a prevalent problem, we wrote an entire article on American Anxiety in September.
The cause experts often point to is media. Some studies estimate the average person spends over 11 hours per day interacting with some form of media. Count em’: 11 hours per day of consuming curated, photoshopped and highlighted content showcasing all the best of people’s lives and none of the mess. It’s no wonder we’re left feeling anxious, depressed, and left out.
But what if I told you your social media has a negative effect on your mental health because you choose to let it. You choose to wallow in the comparison, self-pity, and headlines. Your social media atmosphere is not happening to you and it is not out of your control. You have the power to create a motivational, positive atmosphere in your social media space. You created your social accounts and chose what earned a space in it.
As a Digital Marketing Content Specialist, I spend a large majority of my work day on social media. It’s in my job description to stay up to date on trends and breaking news. In our social and political climate, this can lead to a pretty abysmal view of the world and what’s happening in it.
For this reason, I have become very intentional with the things I allow into my personal social space. My criteria? If it’s not relational, uplifting, motivational, or bringing me joy, then it doesn’t belong in my space. The results in my personal life have been striking. My social media brings me feelings of happiness, excitement, praise, and self-worth.
So, in 2019, let’s all resolve to create a space which breeds positivity and sets us up for superb mental health. Here are a few things to do to get you started:
Step One of Your Social Media Detox: The Great Purge
The first step to creating a better social environment is to rid your space of negativity like it’s The Purge. In true Marie Kondo fashion, get rid of any and everything unless it brings you joy. And yes, this includes your too-political Uncle Jeb and the girl from your high school class with two perfectly dressed, well-behaved children, and a Porsche in the driveway.
Accounts to Unfollow:
- Any person you compare yourself to. If looking at their content makes you feel jealous, messy, or not good enough: click. that. unfollow. button.
- Any account that makes you feel discontent with your life and possessions or like you don’t have what you deserve. This includes brands and influencers causing you to want material items you don’t need or can’t afford
- Individuals who make you feel bad about your body. INCLUDING the Kardashian/Jenners. Tragic I know
- Any account making you feel like you’re missing out or your life is somehow boring or messy. This includes travel accounts, influencers, and bloggers
- News and media outlets (for obvious reasons)
- And of course, you need to unfollow toxic friends, relatives, coworkers, and relationships. Repeat after me: “I do not owe a follow to anyone”
During my first purge, I deleted almost every brand from my social accounts. A radical thing for a digital marketer to do, I know. A few other accounts didn’t make the cut, including fitness bloggers, the travel account @followmeto, celebrities, some “friends” from high school and college, all news sources and political outlets, and various lifestyle bloggers. The end result was refreshing, to say the least.
Step Two of Your Social Media Detox: Pour in the Positivity
The second step to creating a healthy social environment is filling your feed or timeline with content you know will breathe life into you, fill you up, make you feel worthy, motivate you to be your best self, and give you energy.
Accounts to Follow:
- Friends and family who genuinely celebrate you and your accomplishments
- Relevant accounts or individuals in your immediate local community. Is there a nonprofit making a difference in your town? Is your local city government active on social? Get connected
- Accounts grounding you in your religious beliefs or spirituality. Find accounts to encourage you in your spiritual journey, share scripture, or remind you of what’s important
- People focused on building authentic connections instead of a curated aesthetic. This is just a fancy way to say, real people. Find those who share their stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly
- Artists who bring you joy. For you, this could be musicians, painters, poets, or writers. Fill your feed with inspiration
- Communities with shared passions or struggles. A beautiful thing about social media is its ability to connect people who would otherwise feel alone. There are communities of people who have chronic illnesses, have experienced loss, or struggle with addiction. Connect yourself to those who remind you that you aren’t alone in whatever hardship you face
When you move through the motions of your daily life on social you should now be looking at each post through this wellness lens. If you get served an ad you don’t like on Facebook, hide the advertiser. If a fitness blogger you follow posts a mirror selfie and it makes you feel like your own body isn’t good enough, unfollow them. If your Aunt Marge posts something crude and insensitive, defriend her or hide her from your timeline. You get the picture. You deserve an uplifting environment and a healthy mindset and it’s time to put yourself first! A social media detox is a powerful and bold form of self-care.
Making these shifts and taking responsibility for the type of content coming into your social media atmosphere has the power to change your life. So it’s time we take action: here’s to a healthier, happier, and more positive 2019!