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Is Social Media Bad for You? Managing Mental Health and Marketing

social media scrolling

When you use social media for marketing your business or freelance work, I think it's wise to keep a close eye on your personal answer to this question. Your response is unique to you, and will change according to your habits, what you exposure yourself to, and what kind of boundaries you have in place.

As a self-employed person, your emotional and mental health is pretty fundamental to the success of your business. Personally, I prioritise wellbeing above most other things - because if that slides, everything slides.

I use social media a LOT, as you can probably guess from my work as a content creator. I regularly check-in with how it's feeling for me, and make sure that I can take breaks if I need (or want) to.

Social Media Struggles I Experience Sometimes:

Comparison and Self-Criticism

You know the feeling when you see a post of someone similar to you doing something amazing, and however much you want to 'stay in your own lane' and cheer them on loudly, you feel a sinking in your stomach as your brain makes up stories about your own inadequacy?

I'm pretty sure this happens to everyone sometimes, and it's nearly always nothing to do with them, and everything to do with you. It's just feedback, letting you know that you need to fortify your self-confidence. Build up your resilience if it feels like some cracks have appeared.

When this happens to me, I take a step back and usually do some journaling on why a particular thing has bothered me. That gives me a chance to get on top of challenging thoughts before they run away with themselves...

When I'm ready I can log back in with renewed confidence (usually within 24 hours!)

person on their phone

Addiction and Autopilot Behaviour

The designers of these platforms are experts in addiction. They know exactly how to create the visual cues and behavioural rewards to keep us online: a constant stream of notifications, likes, and comments can create a dopamine loop, making us almost dependent on social media gratification.

Whenever I find myself opening the apps on my phone and starting to scroll without any intention to post, or look up something specific, I put my phone down. This 'autopilot' behaviour doesn't feel good to me, and I've even heard it described like a 'digital pacifier' - like a dystopian self-soothing technique!

I try to be intentional whenever I go online. Either I'm looking something up, or I've got something to say.

(That's the goal anyway, I'm sure I don't have a 100% success rate but I'm working on it...)

I also don't have notifications turned on for Instagram and Facebook. I go on these platforms on my terms, not theirs.

Echo Chambers and Narrow-Focus or Repetitive Messaging

The algorithms are designed to show us content that re-affirms our existing beliefs and preferences. This can be really useful, but sometimes it can become a bit overkill. We can be bombarded by topics and end up deep down a rabbit hole! It can be easy to get one-sided information or repetitive messaging that feels a bit like obsessive thinking or fixation.

For example, because I follow lots of self-care and wellness accounts, I've found myself down a few rabbit holes of 'everything is a trauma response' and 'you need to heal yourself'... which inevitably hooks in to a course or service being sold. This doesn't feel healthy and puts me in a mindset of lack.

Every now and then, I check in with what's coming up on my 'Discover' page and assess whether it's generally feel-good or not. The good news is that if I don't like what I see, it's pretty easy to manipulate my feed by doing some specific searches, liking and saving. The algorithm learns quickly, and we have to remember that we are actually in control of what we see, because the algorithm follows cues from us.

These are my personal top three pitfalls when it comes to social media and emotional wellbeing, but I'll be doing a series of posts about wider concerns and ways to stay on top of your self-esteem when online.

If you have any specific areas you'd like me to discuss, ping me and email or Instagram message!

Take Care of Yourself,

Emily xx


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