We’re about 2 months into 2017, and the social atmosphere has been…a little tense. Granted, the figurative “change in the air” didn’t happen overnight. A lot has taken place in America over the last few years. Whether you personally contend with politics, social and racial injustices, women’s rights, domestic abuse advocacy, or the right to speak freely, there is one place where all ideas meet. It’s social media, and if you’re not careful, it can wreak havoc on your mental health.
During the past 10 years or so, social media evolved into one of the fastest and most effective ways to receive and distribute information. Everything from a quick 140 character blurb on Twitter to a video of the latest trendy challenge on Facebook, social media has become part of our everyday existence.
However, because social media is open to anyone, we often find ourselves viewing some unsavory videos, pictures, and posts. Take Worldstarhiphop.com, for example. Their videos featuring countless brawls or sexually explicit content is all over Facebook. Videos of shootings, terrorism, and abuse run rampant on sites like these and they eventually filter into other social media platforms.
Then you have the trolls. Because the idea of online anonymity, some people take pleasure in verbally abusing others online. If you need examples, look at the comments section of any publicly shared political video.
Too much exposure to so much negativity can be damaging. That’s why it’s important to take some time for your mental health. Here are a few self care tips for when social media becomes too much to handle.
Understand that your life does not revolve around social media.
As big a role as social media plays in our daily habits, we do not have to base our every move through those platforms. Think of it as communication for some – your family and close friends – and entertainment for everything else. In other words, don’t take it so seriously. Half of what you see isn’t real anyway.
Boundaries are necessary.
If someone brings drama or any topics you deem problematic your way, you do not have to entertain it. Set boundaries. Learn what you will and will not like to see on your social media feeds. Anything that falls out of those boundaries, delete, block, or unfollow. Tailor your feeds to meet your needs, not everyone else’s.
Be conscious of your posting habits.
Think for a moment about the type of statuses you post. Are they inflammatory? Are they filled with personal drama? Do you constantly post throughout the day? Do you feel better after you become active online or do you feel worse? The content you post and its consistency may contribute to your negative feelings. Try to limit what you post and how often you do it. It’s okay to rant on occasion, but don’t make it a daily habit. Not only are you not helping yourself, but you’re also not doing your followers any favors.
Understand that you are not obligated to engage in social activity.
Just because someone creates a post, you don’t have to comment on it. Restraint can help avoid arguments, and a lack of arguments is always a good thing.
Blocking toxic people can revitalize you.
Some people live to get a rise out of others. They live off attention, be it negative or positive. They may come off as passive aggressive or flat out aggressive. Perhaps they may be Debbie Downers who never have anything good to say. It doesn’t matter. If you have a toxic person on any newsfeeds you frequent, block them. Permanently or temporarily, whichever works best for you. The hard thing is blocking someone close to you, but trust me, sometimes that’s the one you need to let go.
If you cannot block, unfollow.
Maybe you don’t need to stop toxic people from following you. Maybe you just need to stop following them. The unfollow button can be your best friend. There will be no hard feelings between you and your followers (because they likely won’t know unless you tell them), and you’ll get a peace of mind.
It’s okay to log off!
Take a break! It’s perfectly okay to take a step back from social media. Yes, it’ll be tough, depending on your Internet habits, but it can be highly beneficial. You don’t question vacations from work or school. Why would you question a break from a virtual playground that can be just as stressful as the formers if you let it? Vacations are critical for sound mental health. Take a day or two away from technology to reenergize yourself, partake in other hobbies, rest.
Remember, you have to take care of you first. Facebook can wait.
Kris M. Bell is a blogger, senior editor for Rebel Lifestyle Magazine, and indie fiction author residing in Atlanta, GA. You can keep up with her daily antics by following her on Twitter @KrisMBellWrites