How to Protect your Mental Health on Social Media By Catriona Potter

With the colder, darker days fast approaching, we are all beginning to spend more time indoors, which naturally lends itself to higher screen times. As there is now a well-researched link between high screen times (<4 hours) and mental health, there is a need for greater caution when spending time online this Winter. Our mental health is precious, and it deserves to be protected all year round, not least in the cold and dark Winter months. Here are 4 ways to protect your mental health on social media this winter:

  • Avoid scrolling first thing in the morning

When we first wake up, our brains are at their most sensitive and will absorb anything they are exposed to. Looking at your phone first thing in the morning can have a negative impact on your mental health, and often leads to continuously checking your phone throughout the day, to recreate that first dopamine rush of the morning. To stay positive and alert this winter, avoid reaching for your phone right when you wake up. Instead, try to get sunlight first thing, and at least leave your bed before you check in with the world.

  • Stay grounded

In today’s generation it is very easy to believe our worth is defined in social media stats such as likes, comments, story replies etc. If you do anything for yourself this winter, it should be to stay grounded in the present as much as possible. Remember that your real life is the one all around you, not the perfectly curated one in your hand. Spend time with people who uplift you and whose company you enjoy, to avoid the negative comparisons associated with social media.

  • Avoid ‘doom- scrolling’

‘Doom- scrolling’ can be defined as the act of passively scrolling through your phone for hours in an attempt to avoid something in your real life. This can manifest through procrastinating a daunting task, avoiding an unpleasant emotion, or being stuck in the rabbit-hole of comparison on someone else’s profile. While scrolling can be a simple method of escapism now and again, it should not be used to consistently avoid life. Although incredibly uncomfortable at first, swapping the screen for a pen and paper to figure out a solution to what you are avoiding can be very helpful. It is important to face discomfort in the short term because your mind will thank you in the long term!

  • Use it for good

Social media has a bad rap for many reasons, but it can be a very positive thing if used in the right context. There are many light-hearted and refreshing accounts on social media that provide a positive boost to your feed and are worth following. There are many influencers who also write books, produce podcasts, or sell services that are making a real difference in the world and are using their platform to spark much-needed change. Why not clear out your feed, start fresh, and follow people who brighten your day?