Self-care when using social media

Text: Self-care when using social media. Images: Watercolour images of devices and social media icons,

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends, stay up-to-date with the latest news and promote your business. But it’s also easy to get lost in an unhealthy relationship with social media; it can start to take over, you live your life through a camera lens or screen, and you’re constantly bombarded with unrealistic images of bodies, food, lifestyles, relationships – pretty much everything!

It’s important to maintain self-care when using social media, prioritising your own health and wellbeing.

“Self Care is the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.”

I recently took a complete break from social media, deleting all apps from my phone and not accessing anything for 2 months. I wanted to share some of the things I learnt as I returned to using social media, especially now I’m using it for Accessible Yoga with Sarah.

Your social media feeds

The main thing to remember here is that you have a lot of control over what you see on your feed or timeline. You can choose which accounts to follow or unfollow, you can choose who to mute and who to mark as a favourite or turn on notifications.

You are under no obligation to follow anyone, just because they follow you. When a new account follows me, I look through their feed and the content. I ask myself if this is something I’m interested in seeing on a daily basis. How does their imagery make me feel? And if it does make me feel uncomfortable, is that a good thing i.e. can I learn something from it? Or is it likely to have a negative impact on my health and wellbeing.

If it is someone I know and there is a chance they might be hurt by me not following them, I will follow them, but mute their account. This is not rude, it’s self-care. If the content hurts or upsets you, or makes you feel uncomfortable, you have to look after yourself.

Tip 1: As you scroll your social media feeds, if you come across content you don’t like, look at the account. Are you still interested in their content? Do you still want to follow them? Would it be better if you muted them?

Security and Privacy settings

I’m incredibly lucky that I’ve never felt threatened on social media – but that shouldn’t make me feel lucky, that should be the norm.

Unfortunately, I know people who have been at the end of attacks and abuse through social media and this is unacceptable. Always remember to report and block accounts when you feel at all threatened by someone’s behaviour.

Tip 2: Review the security and privacy settings on your social media accounts. Does everything need to be public? Can you group your contacts into acquaintances and close friends? Are there accounts that should be blocked or reported?

Set yourself ‘working hours’ for your social media

We live in an age where everything is instant. You need an answer to a question, Google it. You need to speak to someone, you have lots of ways you can contact them, and they’ll likely be able to answer wherever they are.

But it hasn’t always been this way. You used to have to write a letter to a company and post it. You had to phone your friend on a landline, and they would only answer when they were home. These changes in communication have changed so fast, we haven’t really had a chance to catch up with them. We live in a 24/7 world, but we don’t have the tools to cope, it’s exhausting.

It’s ok to give yourself ‘working hours’ for your phone and social media accounts and only access them in this time. If you’re worried about emergencies, a lot of phones have options to only allow emergency calls in.

Tip 3: Set yourself working hours for your social media accounts. You can either keep these to yourself, or for transparency, add a pinned tweet or add them to your bio so friends and followers know.  

Schedules are there to make your life easier!

With the way social media algorithms work, regular content is needed in order to ensure your posts are seen by a wider audience. But this doesn’t mean you have to be constantly chained to your device. You can schedule posts to release on any date and time that suits you. You can also set up these schedules well in advance, so you don’t have to worry for a few weeks. The time that you do then spend on social media can be spent reacting to, and engaging with, your followers.

Personally, I use Hootsuite and WordPress to schedule my content. On Hootsuite, I use the free plan and that allows me to schedule 30 posts for 3 of my social media feeds: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. On Wordpress I just have to set up blog posts in advance and they release at the date and time I specify. All I have to do is log in every couple of weeks to make sure the schedules are all up to date.

Note: This is not a paid endorsement or advertisement from WordPress or Hootsuite. They are the platforms I’ve chosen to use.

Tip 4: Investigate scheduling options for your posts. Will this work for you and help to organise your time on social media?

Take a break

Leaving social media for 2 months was amazing for me. It helped me to prioritise why I was using social media and what I wanted to achieve with it. Now, I’m not recommending you all go and take months off (although if you want to go for it!) but have you thought about at least having a short amount of time away?

In his book, ‘The 4 Pillar Plan’, Dr Chatterjee recommends that people have a screen-free sabbath – turning off all screens on a Sunday to help combat the overuse of phones and devices.

Tip 5: Give yourself breaks from social media, and your devices too. Start with a couple of hours and increase this when you can.

I hope you found this blog helpful, please let me know in the comments below what other tips you have for looking after yourself when using social media.  

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