6 Mental Health Hacks from a Social Media Pro
by Marissa Conniff from Upward Anthems
Social media has become a huge part of our lives, and some of our livelihoods depend on it. I’m a professional social media manager and my job requires me to look at social media in a different way than most people. I spend a lot of time contemplating why people use social media, and teaching myself how social media platforms function.
Like many of us, I have experienced how inspiring, enraging, addictive, isolating, and entertaining social media can be. The majority of social media can be accessed for no money whatsoever. They’re technically, and literally free. But what is the real cost of social media?
There is a quote I want to share with you, and I hope this is the main thing you remember after reading this blog. Tristan Harris, an American technology ethicist once said, “If you're not paying for the product, then you are the product.”
I do not expect you to delete all of your social media profiles after reading this blog, but I hope to inspire you to think carefully about social media and how it impacts our mental health. Here are my favorite social media mental health hacks!
The basic intention of every social media platform is to gain access to our most valuable asset. Our time. Social media is a scientifically developed rabbit hole that can be short-circuited by setting timers and becoming conscious of how much time we spend on social media.
Here are some ways you can set boundaries with your time and social media
App timers: Most smartphones allow users to set time limits on certain apps. Think about how much time you would like to spend on social media a day and divide the time between your favorite apps. For example, if you would like to spend 1 hour on social media every day you can set 15 minutes on Facebook, 15 minutes on Twitter, 15 minutes on Instagram, and 15 minutes on TikTok. (By the way, the average person spends almost 2.5 hours on social media every day.)
A check-in timer: Put a timer on your phone to go off 5 minutes into using social media. When the timer goes off, check-in with yourself. How are you feeling? Do you notice feelings of joy, worry, jealousy, motivation? Tap into how these social media channels, and the people you are following make you feel.
A 60-minute barrier around bedtime: Avoid social media one hour before bed and one hour after waking up. Trust me, this boundary is easy to set and will remove a lot of stress from your life if you find yourself addicted to social media.
Most (not all) social media channels can be accessed from a desktop computer. Since we carry our smartphones everywhere, we bring social media everywhere We fill up our quiet moments with the chaotic world of social media (like waiting in line at the store, right before bed, the few minutes we have to ourselves before our next meeting) There is actually a lot of amazing, fun, and creative things you can do with your smartphone instead of social media. Try listening to podcasts or audiobooks, puzzles, coloring, organizing photos, or checking in on a loved one with a text message.
Harness the power of following and unfollowing
Follow accounts and people that inspire you, empower you, inform you, and fuel your unique interests. Unfollow or mute accounts and people that make you angry, sad, scared, worried, jealous, or inadequate.
People tend to share the best parts of their lives on social media like when they land a new job, get a dog, send their kid to college, etc. It can be easy to judge or feel jealous. Have the courage to say “This is wonderful news. I’m glad you are so happy!”. Fun fact, I am also a singer. So I know firsthand how much it means when someone listens to my music and pays me a compliment on social media. A little love goes a long way sometimes!
We want to be mentally healthy, and we also want to be safe! We do not need to live in fear but we can be conscious of our safety on social media.
Here are some ways I decide to protect myself:
All of my personal profiles are private
I avoid sharing my exact location
Pictures of the front of my house, the cross streets where I live, and photos of my child are never shared on social media
I send special and private information (i.e. my location, photos of my child, and home) to my close friends via text or private message.
Keep in mind, I have all of these barriers in place for myself, yet I make my livelihood off of social media. This means you can still use social media and always put your safety first.
Learn about the algorithms
As a professional social media manager, I really wish people knew more about how social media works. Social media is here to stay. We do not have to walk away from it completely, but I find it empowering to know a few things about the nuts and bolts of social media. This helps me and my family make informed decisions about our lives because social media is very much a part of it. I recommend learning about the algorithms and checking out the documentaries, The Great Hack and The Social Dilemma.
You can learn more about my career and approach by following me on LinkedIn or learning about my social media marketing business, Upward Anthems. My mission with Upward Anthems is to amplify ideas with creativity and community. We all have a story worth sharing on social media. Let me help you grow your business or cause with creative and community-oriented social media campaigns!
About the Author
Marissa Conniff has over ten years of social media, blogging, and content marketing experience in various industries like arts, technology, tourism, higher education, and small businesses.
Having witnessed the influential powers of social media throughout her career, Marissa now helps artists and entrepreneurs by sharing strategic, creative, and community-based campaigns.
Upward Anthems was established in March of 2020 and it’s Marissa’s favorite job of all time.