The impact social media has on your mental health when you work online every day
Like most millennials born in the early 90s, I pretty much grew up online. At primary school, we had access to those cumbersome Acorn computers in the dedicated ‘computer room’, and from the age of 6/7 onwards, my family always had a computer at home too. When I think about it, I have always been incredibly lucky to have unrestricted access to this mad place that we call the internet for almost my entire life!
Are chatrooms even still a thing?!
My first experiences on the internet came via AOL chatrooms, MSN Messenger (Window’s Live Messenger?!) that Eastenders ‘makeover’ game and making my own Piczo site which was questionably named: ‘pinkblushes101.piczo.com’.
Then came social media platforms such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook which for me, was quickly followed by another form of ‘online journaling’ — Blogging. It was nearly 10 years ago back in October 2009 when Good Golly Miss Hollie first went live. Suffice to say, because access to the World Web Web (lol) has always been a part of my life, for the most part, I’ve always loved being online.
Social media and my mental health
I’d say that in the last 2 years my relationship with the internet has changed quite dramatically, particularly since my blog took off and I started working in a digital marketing role that naturally requires me to be online all day, every day.
I currently work for a digital agency as an influencer marketing manager which means that for a large proportion of time Monday to Friday, I’m looking at what a fantastic time everyone else is having on Instagram. Whatsmore, because I write this very blog and I genuinely really enjoy blogger/ Youtuber content, when I come home from work…I’m scrolling and consuming yet again.
It has taken a great deal of ‘brain training’ over the last couple of years to stop comparing myself to the ‘influencers’ I work with and to stop feeling so panicked that I’m not doing enough with my life.
As part of my work with fast-fashion commerce websites, I regularly look at preened, toned and sculpted bodies that look nothing like my own. Social media makes it all too easy to feel you’re not good enough and there are so many think pieces and commentary examining this. I know I’m not on my own in feeling this way. But what can we do to have a healthier relationship with social media? Especially if like me, you work and fuel the industry.
Well, here are some things that work for me…
Use the unfollow button *eye roll*
No, seriously. You wouldn’t put yourself through the ordeal of attending a party that made you feel out of place and self-conscious. So why should you subject yourself to feeling like that at any given moment of the day?
I gave my personal Instagram and Twitter accounts a massive cleanup and that also included friends and family — brutal I know. But there was method in my madness. I was regularly finding that I never had anything new to talk about with my friends and colleagues as I’d seen their every last sneeze on Instagram stories. These days, I can catch up with them organically. Of course, some may misconstrue this as me being ‘unsupportive’ or ‘ jealous’ which is simply not true, I just didn’t want to be connected to them digitally 24/7.
It’s the same for the content uploaded by strangers that made me feel pure shit. It had me questioning my relationships, my beliefs — what it was that makes me, me. So the fitness gurus and the world travel influencers had to go. My Instagram feed is now much more inspiring and enjoyable to look through and I’m genuinely happier for it.
Know when it’s time to switch off
In the ‘hustle hard’ culture that we live amongst, it’s all too easy to feel like we’re missing out if we’re not connected to what our peers and competitors are doing. But we have to give ourselves time to properly switch off from social media.
I guess this is easy for me to say as I don’t use Instagram or Twitter to make money, It doesn’t really matter to me if I don’t post every day, twice a day. I don’t really care if the algorithm is stopping people from getting to see my content as I mainly use my Instagram account as more of a personal scrapbook to remind myself of what I was doing at any given time. Likewise my Twitter account, it’s more for sharing what’s new on my blog, weird zeitgeisty memes and threads and things I find interesting.
I do try to limit scrolling when I get home from work, especially if I’ve had a heavy day using social media for work. The world still turns whether you’re online or not, so try and eliminate temptation and put your phone somewhere else while you cook dinner, or watch TV. Mindless scrolling ain’t good for anyone and the best way to break a habit is to fight through those urges.
You wouldn’t stay at a party that made you feel miserable
In a world that is constantly switched on, it’s no real surprise that according to this Vice article: “In the past 25 years, rates of depression and anxiety amongst young adults have risen by a staggering 70%”. My guess is that the digital boom and the need for an ‘online presence’ has had some part to play in this frightening stat. We have to look after ourselves and be wise enough to put some measures in place to help our mental health with it comes to using social media and working online.