We’ve all heard it—social media is nothing but poor for our mental and physical health. It’s true that anxiety and depression levels, especially in teens, have increased since the introduction of platforms like Instagram and Facebook. But perhaps there is a way to use social media and achieve the opposite experience—a healthy one.
If you’re looking to reevaluate your social media presence, follow this guide to start cleaning and rearranging your profiles to establish a new, exciting social media experience. Your mental health, physical health, and even your career, will benefit.
Your social media experience
Humans are social beings. There is no avoiding interaction with others, but as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, the internet is evolving into a supplement when in-person interactions aren’t possible. Millions of people are on social media, but not everyone behaves as themselves online—which can make it hard to keep up. The healthiest option is to be yourself while you’re online.
Tailor your social media experience to what you want out of it. By doing so, you can take hold of the algorithm of advertisers to see the content you want, and only interact with people who you want to interact with. Here are the types of social media experiences you might consider trying for the most benefit:
This is the top type of social media presence. Personal profiles are typically private and used to interact with friends, family, and coworkers you would usually let into your in-person social circles. Social media, for people with more personal profiles, is merely a tool to see updates from others and post content about your life.
- Who to follow: Trusted loved ones and coworkers you have a relationship with. Pages about fitness, nutrition, and self-help.
- What to be wary of: Letting people you don’t know into your followers and posting content that you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing publicly.
- When to go online: In your free time and after an important life event you want to share.
- Where to share your profile: Message it to trusted loved ones.
- The best platforms to use: Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.
As the social media world evolved, more professional profiles began popping up. Professional profiles use social media as a networking tool—your profile is typically public for this reason. Your feed will have career-building content and updates from professionals you interact with or look up to. If you own a small business, consider having a professional profile for free marketing!
- Who to follow: Coworkers, inspirational people in your field, classmates, and small businesses in your area.
- What to be wary of: Keeping your content work appropriate. Personal content can be posted, but use caution and keep it work-appropriate. For example, if you post a photo of you and your family at the beach, caption it: Taking some time off with my family! This kind of post is personal but still uplifting and lets your coworkers/customers know you’re offline.
- When to go online: During work breaks, or go live during an event at your place of business. Avoid using social media during your free time to keep a good work/life balance.
- Where to share your profile: On business cards and at your place of business on a sign.
- The best platforms to use: LinkedIn, Facebook for businesses, and a business Instagram.
Posting content is already an inherently creative activity. But if you have a knack for a hobby like art, woodworking, or music—you can use social media to spread your love for your craft. Profiles can vary between public or private, and your feed is typically a mix of loved ones and other people interested in the same creative outlet as you. Think of it as a coffee shop open mic night of artists supporting one another—there are people you do and do not know in the audience appreciating your work, but you know that those you don’t know are potential friends.
- Who to follow: People with similar hobbies or ones you can appreciate and support,
- What to be wary of: Keep your page creative and fun, so avoid letting people who don’t appreciate your work comment or follow you.
- When to go online: Go live when creating your work or post after, and scroll your feeds when you need creative inspiration from other people.
- Where to share your profile: Share your profile by commenting on other creative profiles, and message your profile to loved ones who support your creativity.
- The best platforms to use: Instagram and Pinterest.
Educational content and current event news are abundant on social media platforms. You can learn about almost any topic and stay up to date on local, national, and global news. Stay social by asking questions and learning from other people. Inquisitive people tend to bond easily, so you can use your social media to make friends near and far that you may not have encountered in person.
- Who to follow: News outlets, research universities, groups about educational topics of interest.
- What to be wary of: Overwhelming yourself with too much information. Avoid arguments in comment sections, which can be a detriment to your mental health.
- When to go online: During your morning routine, catch up on the news and learn something new to start your day off with a new perspective—this can help you stay productive and inspire you to work harder.
- Where to share your profile: With friends, family, and people interested in the same content.
- The best platforms to use: Twitter, Clubhouse, and Instagram.
Who you follow and who follows you
Just as with your in-person social life, use your instincts. Avoid following people who you don’t know or don’t care to involve in your social sphere. Treat social media as your real-life social circle, and it will slowly evolve into something much more fun. Ask yourself: if this person introduced themselves to me in person, what would I say to them and how would the interaction go? It’s OK to say no to people’s requests.
When you log on
Don’t burn yourself out by spending too much time on social media. According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, limiting your social media use to around thirty minutes a day can lead to better health outcomes because of several factors, such as harmful blue light from your phone or laptop and overwhelming exposure to too much information. Social media can be beneficial and fun, but getting outside, off your phone, and interacting with loved ones are always the best options to improve your well-being.