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Social media and protecting your mental health

Social media makes all sorts of demands upon our time and mental health.

Whilst the internet and social media are a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, its overuse or your exposure to unpleasant comments and even offensive material can negatively affect your mental wellbeing.

A break from social media to give you space to reflect is good practice. It is really important that you try to occasionally have a ‘technology detox’ and step away from social media from time-to-time. It is a known fact that ‘validation’ is addictive. It is always nice when people say positive things – however, when someone ‘likes’ or indeed DOESN’T like a post it can lead to feelings of anxiety and even depression. The feeling for needing approval can be addictive and can take over your life. Having a balanced social life online and offline is key. Scrolling through the perfect world online can be exhausting. Constantly comparing ourselves to people online can have a negative effect on our self-esteem. It is human nature for people to only display the ‘best bits’ of their life to the online world. In reality, everyone has good days and bad days.

There are many signs that you are addicted to social media, particularly via your mobile phone. Constantly refreshing the social media apps on your device can cause considerable anxiety if people are not ‘liking’ your posts and photographs.

There are a number of ways you can limit your social media activity. Go back to trying to do things the ‘old-fashioned’ way. Don’t ‘chat’ to your friends online, meet up in person and have far more fun! Try removing social media apps from your phone and only connect via a computer to check your message – this will make social media far less accessible.

Take responsibility for your posts. Be aware that online banter can backfire. Ask yourself will you be happy with someone reading your posts in five years’ time? Some people have actually lost their jobs over things they have posted online. If what you plan to post doesn’t truly represent who you are then why post it?

Don’t take the online world too seriously. There’s a wealth of information out there but sometimes it is ok to indulge in watching hilarious cat videos or Googling for the perfect cake recipe. Always remember to treat people in the way you wish to be treated. Check your privacy settings, avoid contentious subjects and confrontation and learn to enjoy the lighter side of the internet safely.

If you'd like to read more, there's plenty of ways you can maintain good mental health, and we've given some advice here. It is always important to maintain your social circle, but it's always important to seek help and advice when you need it

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