There’s no shortage of warnings that social media is bad for your health. The rise of technology and the internet has led to dependence, disillusion and a disconnection from reality. It’s so much of an issue that the networks themselves have brought in a range of tools to help people cut down their social media usage. But what’s the play if your full-time role requires you to be switched on around the clock?
As it’s World Mental Health Day, we stepped back to look at our industry, and the measures we at Digital Media Team take to maintain our own mental wellbeing in a fast-paced online world.
Social media has such a big impact on people’s mental health, especially with young people. Take time off your phone, spend it with loved ones and understand that it’s ok not to be ok. Do what makes you feel most comfortable ❤️ Feel free to message me. #WorldMentalHealthDay
— Rufus Barker (@rufus_barker) 10 October 2018
Q: What effect do you think social media has on mental health? How has it positively or negatively affected you?
Nicole: For me social media was great for my half marathon training last year. Following fitness blogs on Instagram got me in the mindset to stick to my training goals, and when I posted my results (e.g. running my first 10 miles) l got lots of positive feedback which further motivated be to continue. It paid off as I ran the Great North Run within the time I wanted to! Social media does get a bad rep, but it is also a brilliant inspiration to get active and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Aimee: I really love how mental health these days is so widely spoken about and how it’s finally being treated seriously. Working as a social media manager, it can be difficult to step away from the online world, which can certainly be damaging mentally. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, and social media is an incredible way to get people talking about difficult topics, especially mental health. However, we spend a vast majority of our time looking at these perfectly filtered Instagram photos, reading about other people’s flawless lives and constantly having to stay on-trend. It’s exhausting, and can cause all sorts of insecurities to flare up.
Kirsty: I think it’s impossible to ignore the effects of social media on mental health. Scrolling through Instagram and seeing these people with perfect lives can give you a warped view of the world and how your life should be. I wouldn’t say it negatively affects me too much, but it’s important to give yourself a break from your screen once in a while as you can defitely get sucked in.
Social media really does take a toll on your mental health. Y’all really think seeing unrealistic celebrity lives, unrealistic bodies, and people telling you how you should live is healthy? These apps are not for the easily impressionable.
— cw (@cdollas) 10 October 2018
Q: Would you say your social media usage is unhealthy?
Nicole: My own personal use of social is not unhealthy no. I don’t spend 24/7 on social media like I’ve seen some of my friends and family members do, or post updates every single day. I think overuse of social is when you know it’s getting unhealthy.
Aimee: Absolutely, yes. It’s hard not be addicted when your career revolves around social media, but I’ve definitely tried to step back from it a bit. Especially just before I go to sleep. Otherwise I get stuck for hours scrolling through Twitter and Instagram. The key is moderation, but that’s easier said than done!
Kirsty: I reckon my addiction to social media is unhealthy, sure, but I try to keep a check on it. It’s frustrating when you find yourself picking up your phone and refreshing Instagram every few minutes – I guess that isn’t good! Also, you can definitely torture yourself by checking up on what others are doing, I think there has to be a level of self-restraint when it comes to social media.
May I suggest one of the best ways to protect your mental health, especially on social media, is to mute/block/unfollow or just scroll on past when you dislike someone’s opinion/tweets/content ✌️#Peace
— #Kates™ (@katiepeal) 10 October 2018
Q: What measures do you take to maintain your own mental health whilst working in social media?
Nicole: I always make sure I switch off and relax! This is especially important for us Social media managers when we’ve been spending all day on a client’s Instagram feed or scouring Twitter for a good article to retweet. I make sure when I get home on an evening to put my phone down and not check it as often. Instead I’ll watch Netflix, have a bath, listen to music, exercise or play some video games to chill out.
It’s also very important to get a lot of sleep. Staying up ‘til 1am isn’t great for anyone’s mental health, so I always try to get at least 7-8 hours each night. And I don’t get into bed and look at my phone before I’m about to sleep. I that’s also a big factor that keeps people awake all night.
Aimee: There has to be a buffer and I personally like to step away from the screen in the evening time, spending time with friends or simply reading a book. Taking a break is important and taking care of your mental health should be priority.
Kirsty: I make sure I stay active – exercise for me is the best way to escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life. Keeping a healthy body for me is a great way to encourage a healthy mind. Also eating well and drinking a TON of water helps too!
Mental health matters. If you’re struggling or you’d like to find out more about health and well-being, Mind have some great resources as a starting point.