By Chris Adam, Copywriter at HashtagHealth and Part-Time Crisis Counselor
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during periods of lockdown, people have increasingly turned toward social media to stay connected with the outside world. From participating in virtual parties to sharing videos, social media has proved a popular means of staying connected during a challenging time.
As we celebrate National Mental Health Awareness Month in May, we want to take a look at how social media can have positive effects on our lives. While the use of social media has been linked to greater feelings of loneliness, it can have beneficial effects when used in positive and empowering ways.
Before we dive into specifics, please know that if you are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, you are not alone. Help is available through various channels.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential.
Mental Health First Aid USA highlights three ways to use social media positively: connect with loved ones, find inspiration, and create balance.
Connect with loved ones
Digital calls, personal stories, and pictures are all great ways to remind you of the important people in your life. Social media also can help you stay connected when dealing with health challenges. Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, offer free and simple tools to allow you to engage directly with the people you care about most. Features, such as private groups, group chats, and free video chats, allow you to engage in a more private, intimate forum.
Need some new ideas? Social media can be a wonderful way to boost your confidence and find new sources of inspiration. You can follow and share inspiring stories and ideas that make you feel confident and positive about your life. If someone is sharing negative content that makes you feel sad or uncomfortable, simply remove them from your news feed.
During this challenging time, mental health advocates have also used Instagram and helpful hashtags to spread inspiring ideas about self-care and how to find joy in a period of uncertainty. The “story” features of popular social media platforms have also been useful tools. Other social media sources popular for finding inspiration include Pinterest and TikTok.
Here the balance is between social media and what’s in front of you. Being mindful – focusing your mind on the present – can help. Mix time with loved ones on social media with time spent in person with those that make you feel loved and valued.
One popular tool to help achieve this balance is the social media reminder. Instagram and other platforms provide such reminders once you catch up on the new things in your feed. The idea is to get caught up on the latest so you can put down your device. Platforms like Snapchat also provide spaces for sharing visual reminders to stay present and focused on the here and now.
Try using these tips to help make social media a more positive experience that boosts your mental health and helps you stay connected. Just remember that taking a break from social media can be equally beneficial to your mental well-being. The more time you spend focused on things that make you feel great about yourself, the more you will be able to create balance in your life.