Working in Social Media: 7 Tips to Protect Your Mental Health
October 10th marks World Mental Health Day, which is a cause close to our hearts here at Social Llama.
Looking after your mental health is always important, but this year, we’ve all faced strange, unprecedented times.
And for those who work in social media, there is often little escape.
When your work requires you to scroll and be active on social media, it can feel impossible to “unplug” and take a break from the online world.
Whether you’re a social media manager, influencer, or solo business owner, we’re sharing some of our best mental health tips and free resources.
Social Media and Mental Health During COVID-19
There’s no denying that people who work in social media have an “always-on” attitude. Whether that’s for work or play, if your business or brand is on social, you probably have your finger (or more specifically thumb!) on the pulse of what’s trending right now.
Pair this with a global pandemic (and the hyper-demand for digital content, new working setups, childcare demands, and everyday anxieties that come with it) and the result can be mentally exhausting at best.
So it’s more important than ever to take the time to protect your mental health and build resilience for the future.
“COVID-19 has been overwhelming, to say the least,” shares Later’s Social Media Strategist, Mel Brittner.
“Some of our team have faced struggles of isolation, while some have had to pivot to working from home after being used to a vibrant co-work space and office structure. For me, it meant finding a new way to work while looking after a toddler.”
But it’s not just social media managers who need to be mindful of the toll COVID-19 and working online can take.
In fact, screen time across the board has risen, with views on Instagram Live doubling in one week and Facebook and Instagram Facebook and Instagram seeing a 40% increase in usage. We’ve spent a lot of time refreshing our working from home best practices, so being away from the office doesn’t feel as isolating.
The goal is simple: to create a supportive and caring community through an emotionally challenging time.
“With increased vulnerability and empathy for one another, little shifts soon emerged,” explains Mel. All these small changes go towards helping the team better support each other through COVID-19.
So whether you’re a social media manager, influencer, small business owners, or someone who just really loves social media, it’s essential to make time to check in on yourself and your coworkers, and find the support you need when and where you can.
To help you find moments of calm and build positive mental health habits, here are 7 tips to help restore your mental wellbeing during a difficult time:
Social Media Mental Health Tips #1: Regularly Checking on Your Workload
In an attempt to dispel any myths around mental health, we wanted to kick off by talking about burnout. Trust us when we say that burnout can happen to anyone, and is not a sign of weakness. No matter how passionate or committed you are about your work, the symptoms of burnout can still happen through no fault of your own.
The World Health Organisation categorises it as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”, with the main symptom being lack of energy or exhaustion, mentally distancing yourself from your work, and a drop in your professional effectiveness.
But the trick to overcoming (or hopefully completely avoiding) burnout is to recognise the signs — and that all starts with regularly checking in on your workload.
Spend some time each week to review your to-do list — is it manageable or overwhelming? Is there anything that can be de-prioritised or removed? Can you call in backup to help clear some things from your task load?
By giving yourself time to assess your workload, it can help you actively prioritise what needs to be done and remove the things that are not essential.
Plus, once you know what’s achievable in any given work week, you’ll find the courage to say no to things that aren’t essential or aligned with your goals. Which means you spend more time working on the things that serve and energise you (and your business!).
Not sure where to start? Asana to manage our workloads and task lists, and they have created a handy guide to prioritising your to-do list. Get the guide here.
Social Media Mental Health Tips #2: Monitor Your Screen Time and Set Limits
Around 50% of the world’s population uses social media — and the average internet user spends around 6 hours and 43 minutes online each day.
And as a social media manager, that number can easily be doubled.
If you feel like social media is starting to affect your mental health, you might want to try limiting the amount of time you spend on social media. Here are some tips on how to do it:
#1: Set App Limits
Since it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to quit social media altogether, setting time limits on your phone can be helpful.
With the iOS 12 and above on iPhone, you can track and monitor the time you spend on your phone and on social platforms. You can even set a time limit for using apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You’ll be notified when that time is about to run out, and you’ll be reminded to close the app.
And similarly, for Android users, you can track and monitor your screen time with the Digital Wellbeing feature. You can set app timers, and different modes like bedtime and focus.
#2: Use Moment App to Understand Where You’re Spending Your Time
With Moment app, you get an easy-to-digest breakdown of your screen time for you and your family, plus insights and free coaching to help you spend less time on your phone.
It even has a 7-day intensive bootcamp course called Bored & Brilliant, which is designed to help you break those ingrained habits around your screen time.
#3: Remember to Take Regular Breaks From Your Desktop
Stopping the scroll on your mobile is one thing, but do you have a Twitter feed open on your desktop? Or maybe you’re managing all your social comments on the web?
If you find yourself being overwhelmed by social media, set reminders to step away from the screen.
Using a web browser extension like Stand Up! Timer can help you get a friendly nudge to step away from your desk, get a glass of water, have a little walk — whatever feels right to take a break from the screen.
#4: Turn off Notifications or Set “Bedtimes”
Did you know that you can set a bedtime on your mobile device?
You can put a stop to late-night notifications and constant pings by setting a “bedtime” — all your notifications will be paused until the morning.
On iPhone you can set this up under your Clock setting. It’s similar to Do Not Disturb, but notifications won’t even appear on your lock screen. So there’s no temptation to reply to DM or open an app.
For Android users, you can turn on “Bedtime Mode” in the Digital Wellbeing feature.
Hannah Mann, iFit Community Director and Later customer takes it one step further by completely removing devices from the room when she logs off for the day.
“The best advice I could give to anyone working in social media is to set work-life boundaries,” says Hannah.
“It’s so easy to start scrolling and then it turns into work. You’re scrolling through your personal feed, but in the back of your mind, you’re mentally storing content ideas, a catchy caption, or how to use a new feature.”
“Having the discipline to put the phone in the other room and turn it off will help protect your time and mental energy.”
Social Media Mental Health Tips #3: Control Your Social Media Feeds
If you work in social media, or run a business that relies on social media marketing, you probably have more than one Instagram account.
For many people, having a personal and business profile on Instagram is the norm — which means double the feeds to scroll, double the DMs to respond to, and double the time spent on social.
And for social media managers, that number could easily quadruple.
Aside from spending more time on social, the content you consume can impact your mood and overall wellbeing.
If you’re starting to feel like social media is affecting your mental health, it could be time to audit your feeds. Here are some ways to curate social media feeds that are right for you:
#1: Unfollow Accounts That Don’t Make You Feel Good
If you’re comparing your body, house, or lifestyle to those perfect Instagram influencers and it doesn’t make you feel good, unfollow them.
Make sure that the people and brands you follow on Instagram are aligned with what’s important to you, and you’re getting value or positivity from following them.
“My best tip for protecting your mental health while working in social media is don’t get into the comparison game,” says Liz Reuth, Executive Director of Digital Marketing at Le-Vel Brands and Later customer.
“While you’re scrolling (for work or your personal feeds), you can always find someone who is doing more than you, has more followers, with better style, more successful, seems to connect with people better, etc. And falling onto that trap of comparing yourself can take its toll on your mental health.”
“Remind yourself that you are you, and you are enough.”
If you can’t unfollow someone because of work or friendship, use the mute button on Instagram or Twitter to hide them from your feed, and you can “unfollow” someone on Facebook while still remaining friends with them.
#2: Mute Keywords That Trigger or Upset You.
If there’s something that makes you constantly feel drained or depressed, it’s okay to hide it from your timeline.
You can mute keywords on Twitter, which hides particular words, phrases, usernames, emojis, or hashtags from your timeline. You can choose to mute them “forever” or just for a limited time, which is especially helpful during world events or news cycles that can be overwhelming and hard to read about.
#4: Follow Inspiring Accounts That Make You Feel Good.
Remember: You are in control of your feed! And just like how you can unfollow any accounts that make you feel bad, it’s important to add in some accounts that make you feel good too.
You could follow funny meme accounts, motivational speakers, beautiful travel accounts, or even accounts that fill your feed with inspirational quotes.
Following other people who are open and honest about their mental health can also make you feel less alone.
And if you’re looking for more wellness content, Instagram just launched Instagram Guides.
This new scrollable content format that is currently being trialed with mental health and wellness organisations and ambassadors to share helpful resources and tips in response to COVID-19.
#5: Control Your Comments
If you manage a social media account for business, chances are the task of having to hide, block, or deal with negative online comments all the time can take its toll on your mental health.
The good news is that Instagram is making it easier to avoid bullying and trolls with their comment filtering feature.
You can block certain words or phrases on Instagram, so any comments including those words won’t show up on your posts. You can also turn off commenting on specific Instagram posts, too, so you can post without having to hear your followers’ opinions or negativity.
To access the tool, click the “Privacy and Security” from the Settings menu and scroll to tap “Comment Controls.”
You can also filter out offensive comments and select words or phrases from your Instagram Live broadcasts too.
Instagram has also just launched a new way to delete comments in bulk, so you can quickly manage unwanted interactions on your feed.
You can also block or restrict multiple accounts at once, making it easier and quicker to handle any accounts that are bringing negativity to your feed.
#6: Be Intentional on Social
If you’re feeling like social media is taking a toll on your mental health, setting intentions for your social media time may help. Instead of logging on and endlessly scrolling, think about what exact tasks you need to accomplish and use your social media time wisely.
“I prepare for engaging online by acknowledging the potential for harm, taking a moment to ground and center myself, and keeping my time online to a minimum. Get in, do your work, get out,” explains self-care advocate Rachel Ricketts.
“Taking the extra time to be intentional with when and how I engage online, and getting honest with myself about its impact, is step one to managing my mental health.”
Social Media Mental Health Tips #4: Prioritize Self-Care
Think self-care is a trendy buzz word? Think again!
Self-care is the act of prioritizing all aspects of your wellbeing so that you are strong enough to tackle anything that life throws at you.
Mental Health America frames it up very well by highlighting that “Taking care of all aspects of you will increase the likelihood that you stay well.”
And that doesn’t have to mean expensive spa days or no-wifi retreats — it can be simple acts of kindness to your self every day that help make you feel good.
“My top tip for making time for yourself is to stop multitasking on tech during my lunch break,” says Melissa Mel, Senior Art Director & Founder of The WoMi App
“Either I listen to music, or watch a movie, but that’s it — no scrolling my feeds while I’m at it!
Prioritising my meal times helps me appreciate that I’m feeding and caring for my body, so in return, I can be at my physical and mental best — for work and after hours!”
Here’s couple of simple self-care ideas to try this week:
#1: Find Time for Daily Meditation
You might be thinking that taking 10 minutes out of your day to do nothing is not going to help.
But meditation isn’t “doing nothing”, it’s a mind and body practice that has been proven to help with depression, anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, and a whole host of different health issues.
Plus, in the world of work, employees who put aside time to meditate have become more productive, resilient, and creative!
Don’t worry if you’ve never meditated before — try an app like Headspace which has free short, simple, and fully-guided meditations to help calm and destress your thoughts at any point in your busy day.
Spotify also has a new Daily Wellness playlist, with music and wellness sounds to guide you through the day and encourage mindfulness.
If you find there are moments in your day that feel overwhelming, a few minutes of meditation and reflection can help your reset and refocus.
Feeling stressed at work? Learn more about how mindfulness can help stress in the workplace.
#2: Take Time for the Things You Enjoy
Remember the saying “all work and no play…”, well now, more than ever it’s important to make time for the things you enjoy.
The free app Aloe Bud helps you track your self-care goals, and will send you gentle reminders that help you achieve your goals, without making you feel bad for not completing them.
Being intentional and setting time aside to focus on a new hobby, exercise, hanging out with friends, or just taking care of yourself can help you find a better balance to all the time spent on social media.
If you’re on Android, check out Chiku, a daily journal and mood tracker. It’s similar to Aloe Bud, helping you log your daily moods and activities by offering daily motivation in the form of quotes, questions, and challenges.
Social Media Mental Health Tips #5: Give Your Eyes a Break With These Mental Health Podcasts
Being pro-active about your mental health is important, and the more you learn, the more you can help yourself (and your loved ones).
Here are some great mental health podcasts:
Holding Space with Dr. Cassidy Freitas is a space to demystify mental health and therapy, share stories of struggle and joy, and discover connection through our human experiences.
Selfie is a self-care podcast hosted by a psychotherapist and a lifestyle blogger, which explores themes like getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and balancing the body, mind, and spirit.
Tiny Leaps, Big Changes is a personal development podcast focused on exploring the day-to-day behaviours we all engage in that determine the results we gain in our lives.
Feel Better, Live More is full of easy health life-hacks and expert advice to revolutionise how you eat, sleep, move, and relax.
Terrible, Thanks for Asking is a podcast about talking honestly about the everyday struggles we all face.
Mentally Yours hosts Ellen Scott and Yvette Caster chat to guests about their mental health struggles in a frank and open way. Check out their most recent episode on looking after your mental health during self-isolation here.
Social Media Mental Health Tips #6: Take a Social Media Break
When all else fails, it’s okay to take a break from social media.
While it may be impossible for you to avoid social media at your job, setting boundaries and taking a break on weekends or evenings is still achievable.
Schedule your social media posts in advance, and reach out to a team member or co-worker to help you post Instagram Stories or monitor comments so you can take a full break.
If you need a break from your social media channels but still have to monitor what’s happening online, consider creating an “alt” account under a different name or alias.
“Creating alt accounts for social media helps me to stay in the loop with what’s going on, but makes me feel less attached to online life,” explains Amber Discko, social media manager and creator of the self-care app Aloe Bud.
You can manage your Facebook pages, groups, and ads from an alt account, and follow community members, fans, or similar brand accounts, without feeling the need to interact with your family and friends if you’re not in the right headspace.
Social Media Mental Health Tips #7: Ask For Help When You Need It
While mental health awareness is increasing in the workplace, unfortunately, many people still face challenges getting the help they need.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, “fear of discrimination and feelings of shame are among the top reasons people give for not telling their colleagues about their mental health problems.”
Here are some tips from their How to Support Mental Health at Work guide:
“If you’re struggling with your mental health at work, talking about it really does help.
Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.
It can be hard to talk about feelings at work. If you have colleagues you can talk to, or a manager who asks how you are at supervision sessions, it can really help.
Identify someone you feel comfortable with and who will be supportive. You may want to think about what you want to disclose, who to, and when a good time and place to do this could be.
If you are open about how you feel at work, especially if you are a leader, it might encourage others to do the same.
If you don’t feel able to talk about feelings at work, make sure there’s someone you can discuss work pressures with – partners, friends, and family can all be a sounding board.”
Similarly, being a mental health advocate and ally in your workplace is also helpful to create a healthy and supportive work environment.
If you’re struggling to get the words out face-to-face, try getting your thoughts down on paper. An email is a perfectly acceptable way to ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
No one wants to experience burnout, and no one wants to see a teammate go through it, so it’s important to catch the signs early and starting looking after yourself more.
Even if you’re feeling fine, raising awareness about mental health is important for reducing the stigma in the workplace. If you can, be a mental health advocate in your own company, and ask your colleagues how they are doing.
Here are some physical and mental signs and symptoms to look out for in yourself and your colleagues:
Anxiety or feeling listless
Lack of creativity
Fatigue and Exhaustion
High blood pressure
Increased susceptibility to colds and flu
Muscle tension and general bodily pain
However you’re feeling right now about your time spent on social media, it’s always good to be aware of your thought patterns, or any signs that your body’s telling you to slow down.
We live in a fast-paced and challenging world, especially if you’re working in social media, so take some time for self-care and look after your mind and body.