I’m the first to say working in social media can be an absolute drain on your mental health. Those social media breaks others get to take to clear their head? Not an option. Choosing what and how you consume content? Not completely in your control.
But it doesn’t have to totally break you. There can be a balance that works both for you and your work. And it’s best you find that now before you are in desperate need of it.
Name Your Feeling
This sounds like a weird one, but I have found it helps when I name the feeling I’m going through. I picked this up when I took a meditation teaching course. If you name what is arising in you, you can better identify what is going on and how to deal with it.
For example, there was a time that even the idea of opening my email was becoming problematic for me. It was a bout of anxiety and I quickly identified it as such. I then realized a client’s emails were affecting me more than what was reasonable. I took the time to diagnose the real problem and come up with a solution.
Naming seems simple, but it truly does give you a power over what is going on. So taking the time to name the feelings you are struggling with is an important first step in getting past them.
Set Clear Boundaries
I will be honest here: This is always one I struggle with, but I have gotten loads better. I no longer wake up at five in the morning and then end my day near midnight. I tell clients that they can reach me online between nine and five on weekdays, and then they have my phone number if an emergency situation should arise outside of those times. And yes, sometimes I have to teach what an emergency is, but that is part of defining boundaries as well.
Do I work after five or on the weekends? Of course. It’s the nature of my job. But having that boundary in place with my clients releases me from parts of my job during times where I may need rest, so I only do what’s necessary for the communities and that’s it.
And then my brain has a break.
Brain breaks are more important than anyone gives them credit for. They allow your brain to get much needed rest so it can work at an optimal level. They also allow your brain to work on a problem in the background. You can then give a much more creative solution than you would have otherwise.
Set the boundaries you need. Take the breaks you need. Do better work. It’s as simple as that.
Make Your Personal Social Media Work for Your Mental Health
This is another one that took me a long time to learn: Your personal social media is about you and not anyone else.
I unfollow anyone who negatively affects my mental health. Nine times out of ten they have no idea I did that, and ten times out of ten I feel better because of it.
My Instagram is a bit of an oasis. The people I like most are there. I follow accounts that just make me happy. It feels a little free. So I can open it anytime I feel down and know that I will easily find something that will give a little pep in my step.
My friend constantly sends me TikToks for the same reason: It’s her little place where she has content that makes her happy.
Don’t worry about being selfish with your social media use. Get rid of those who are affecting you in a negative way and stop being worried about potential blowback. And think of the social network that gives you the most joy. Double down on following accounts like the ones that make you happiest, and then use it when you question whether social media is a good place to be. It will be the place that reminds you of why you love it in this world.
Cultivate Offline Hobbies
At the beginning of 2015, I started crocheting. I noticed something right away: It kept my hands busy and my head down so it was hard to check in on my laptop. But it also had the ability to give my brain a break and work out solutions on issues I was having. So I was able to force myself to have that break while doing something I really enjoyed.
Eight years later, I pick up my hook and yarn every time I need to work out a problem or write something. It’s a fantastic hobby for that and has helped me so many times.
Find that thing that forces you to be totally offline at times. Running has been another good one for me, but pick whatever is good for you. Whatever feels energizing and helps you think. But mostly, requires you take time away from your laptop and phone.
To be good at social media and still enjoy it, you have to take those mini breaks or else you will burnout and have to dig yourself out. I know this because I have been there and done that. It’s far easier to address your mental health when you’re feeling good instead of when you are in the middle of a serious low. And if you are in the middle of a serious low, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about the options available to you.
How do you maintain your mental health while working in social media?