How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health

Photo by Alexa Suter on Unsplash

When I read articles about how social media affects your mental health, I used to think it is one of those things. I always found a way to downplay the accuracy of that fact until it happened to me.

I moved to Manchester, England about six months ago and I did not start to feel the effects of emigration until after the third or fourth month. Of course, there was the initial euphoria from finally leaving Nigeria where I was born and bred. Also, I had always wanted to move to England since I was 18 so it’s been a long time coming. When I settled in fully and started to pick up the pieces of my career, it hit me like a pack of cards.

At the moment, I still have regular bouts of lethargy and mild depression because a lot of things didn’t go the way I planned. But that’s a story for another day.

Now, moving to Manchester almost means starting a new life. When I think about it, it actually does. Coming from Nigeria where everything was subpar and pisspoor, I came to start a completely different life that I was a wasn’t used to. So, you can actually say I started a new life. But what I didn’t realise was that I had built my social media presence around my old life and it was affecting me badly.

The first thing I did was to stop logging into my personal Instagram accounts. I currently have two accounts; one is supposed to be about my ‘personal brand’ and the other is about my lifestyle. Since I started a new and improved lifestyle, it was easy to log into my second account at intervals to document certain my new skincare products or running stats for the day. But what I realized was that I spent less and less time on my personal accounts. As I speak, I haven’t visited one of my personal accounts in over a month. That’s has NEVER happened before. Although, I wish I could do away completely with Instagram but I work in Social Media and that can’t happen for now.

I didn’t realize how much effect it had on me until the first week. And then the second and third week happened and I didn’t flinch at all. I had zero motivation to check that accounts and anything associated with it.

I’d like to point out that my Instagram account is highly curated. I made it a duty to be intentional about what I was feeding my mind daily. So, it wasn’t a low-quality feed. It was a feed that inspired and motivated me in different areas of my life specifically in career and business. But for some reasons, it wasn’t working anymore because I had a new sense of direction and a lot of things didn’t matter anymore.

Recently, I started to toy with the idea of deleting my social media accounts and creating new ones. I really don’t care about vanity metrics, I just needed a space where I could thrive and mental health would not be affected. I’m still thinking about it but it is something I am seriously considering. In the meantime, I’ve started to spring clean my LinkedIn account since it can’t be easy to get my recommendations back.

But here’s what the whole experience has thought me:

  1. You are what you feed your mind. If you go on social media daily and continue to feed your mind certain types of content, it would affect you one way or another. Plus the social media algorithms don’t help matters at all. So, if you continue to engage with specific types of content, it would continually show up at the top of your feed and you would continue consuming without knowing.
  2. More than ever before, it is so important to take social media breaks. Find one way or the other to disconnect. Binge-watch Netflix. Go on trips. Whatever. Just disconnect regularly. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your mental health.
  3. Don’t lose your focus. Feeding on wedding/pregnancy photos daily will have you thinking you’re ready for marriage and children. Don’t play yourself. It is psychology at work.
  4. Know when to quit. If your Instagram account doesn’t serve you anymore, you can quit. Don’t let anyone guilt trip you. Remember the smaller the accounts, the better for your mental health. I honestly cannot wait to create a new space and connect with genuine people.

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