Social media has a lot of benefits: it’s a place where we can keep up with friends, make plans and hear about events. However, it can also become a source of stress and anxiety.
As 2020 continues to unfold, we may feel more stress and anxiety than usual, between the pandemic, the election, the fight for racial justice and our usual social feeds. Here are some tips to help you navigate social media in a positive way.
Check your accounts
Do you know how many accounts you have online? Once you start looking at all of your social accounts, you may realize you have more than you thought. Social media is built into many of our favorite apps: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, TikTok – the list goes on. Take a moment to look at what kinds of social media accounts you have, and reflect on how you use them. Ask yourself:
Social media accounts should be a place where you find connection, relief and feel uplifted. If you find that your social platforms are missing the mark, consider getting rid of them or use them less frequently. Unsure about deleting an account? See if you can deactivate it instead. This will temporarily remove your profile from the site without losing your account entirely. If you find that you miss it, you can always re-activate it later on.
Who do you follow on social? Whether you follow close friends and family or celebrities and meme accounts, it’s important to know who you’re following and why. Take a look at the accounts you follow and ask yourself:
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to unfollow. If you’re worried about unfollowing an account altogether, try hiding them from your feed instead. Hiding negative content from your view can help you feel a sense of relief and will free up space for accounts that make you feel good.
Pause before you post
Practical jokes and funny photos with friends can make for entertaining social posts, but they may have a larger impact down the line. Many employers check social media profiles during the hiring process, and they may look back further than you’d think. Group accounts and even those that aren’t directly tied to you (think finsta) can have a negative impact in the future. Before you post, ask yourself:
If the answers to these questions are largely negative, skip the share button. You’ll still have the memory to look back on.
Take a break
If you find yourself on social throughout the day, it may be time for a mini vacation. Taking a mental break from social can help you disconnect from your feed and reconnect with your real life. One way to decrease your time on social accounts is to designate phone-free spaces. For instance, you may decide that your schoolwork areas are a phone-free zone. This could include your classrooms, study spaces or desk. By keeping your phone out of reach, you may find that you’re able to focus more on class (it has also been shown to improve grades and performance on tests). Connecting with friends is another great way to take a break from social and focus on the people you’re with. If you need extra help unplugging, try these tips:
If you are struggling or having a difficult time coping with anxiety, depression, stress or social, Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) is here to help. They offer free screening appointments for all undergrad and graduate students. Screening appointments are used to develop personalized plans, which can include therapy groups, workshops, community providers, short-term individual therapy and psychiatry or a combination of these services.