Social media can be a challenging place to navigate. The urge to share and post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram can be overwhelming. It is possible to use social media in a healthy way that supports good mental health.
Part of being human is enjoying the good things that come our way. Good food, good company, and good news are all positive moments in life. When you check your social media account and you see a new like or supportive comment on a recent status or photo, a burst of dopamine reminds your brain of the pleasure that like brings. If you are interested in the science of dopamine, a good book to read is Habits of a Happy Brain by Loretta Graziano Breuning.
You can use social media in a positive way to keep your relationships and your own mental health healthy. Try these 6 ways:
- Share positive stories in an authentic way.
Preparing for a big race? Share your training schedule and your PR goal. Don’t wait until you get the medal at the end of the race to post. When you share your training along the way, it gives people an accurate idea of how hard you work to achieve your goals. That being said, maybe leave off the posts with gory injuries.
- Participate in pages and groups that encourage healthy behaviors.
Groups on LinkedIn are great for connecting and learning from peers in your industry. On Facebook, there are hundreds of groups about fitness and inspiration. One example of a local Facebook page that provides inspiration for runners is PRS Running Club. Finding an online group with a real-life tangible component is a great way to keep your online relationships healthy.
- Pause to think about the impact of online discussion on your everyday life.
Commenting on someone’s status is adding to the conversation. If your normal behavior includes polite conversation, keep your online words civil. Tone can be hard to read on social media so if you are unsure if your words will sting, use caution before posting. Remember that anything you put on the internet can be saved and re-posted.
- Check and monitor your privacy settings.
Privacy. “Remember that anything you put on the internet can be saved and re-posted.” It is important to keep yourself safe online by using the privacy settings available. On Facebook, you can change your activity settings to filter to specific audiences. On Twitter you can set up a protected account. Check that your privacy settings are enabled for your physical and emotional safety.
- Remind yourself of the social media filter.
Picture-perfect lifestyles are posted on social media and it is easy to want what others seem to have. Remember that anyone you follow is curating their content. They choose to share the best stories and their best photos because that is how they want people to see them. Like your friends’ posts and share in the joy of their happiness and successes. At the same time, remember to be available for them offline when they have a bad day.
- Know when to get offline.
Social media can be a great source of community and it has the potential to be harmful. While using any online account, remain self-aware of how your interactions online are effecting your mood in the real world.
Set reasonable boundaries for yourself as you use social media. If you need some help deciding which social media behaviors are beneficial, please contact me for more information.