Social media is great, however, when it comes to depression, it can also be triggering. I have heard more people say they are trying to stay off Facebook these days…and perhaps that’s something you’re struggling with as well: finding social media sanity while battling depression.
Before we talk more about social media and depression, let’s talk first about social media, and the value it brings. Like many of us, I have a love / hate relationship with social media. I love staying connected to people around the world and hearing about their successes. I also will share that if I wasn’t on Facebook, I would not know about friends who are going through major health issues, including depression, and would not be able to support them.
There are also many of us, myself included, who have to use social media for our businesses in some respect or another, either for ourselves or for clients. As a result, social media can be a constant in many of our lives, and it can be a way to be connected to people the world over in a meaningful way, but it can also be incredibly stressful. And, if you’re prone to or battling depression, it can be a lot to manage.
If you’re wondering whether social media professionals also get the blues from social media, I am here to tell you they absolutely do. If you’re wondering whether people who struggle with depression, who also use social media—whether for pleasure or as part of their professional work—also get the blues from social media, I am here to tell you that they, too, absolutely do. Now, let’s explore how to deal with that.
So, how to go about finding social media sanity when you also struggle with depression? Great question. My friend Jon-David is an author, screenwriter, artist, hairdresser, and social media expert. In an interview as part of my Depression Discussions™: The Conversations Entrepreneurs Need to Have series, Jon-David shares how he eventually achieved some semblance of social media sanity after it triggered a depressive episode. Here are his top 10 tips for finding social media sanity when you also struggle with depression:
1. See the spin
Comparison despair is real and most people are only showing their greatest hits and shiny happy life on social media. Make it a point to know that what you’re seeing is staged—in other words, see the spin.
Instagram is probably the biggest offender here. Beauty and grace are its highest values and anyone who is not perfect or a celebrity, which is most of us, can get triggered. When you can see the spin, it can help you not only hold onto your sanity, but to keep the feelings of depression at bay a bit.
2. Acknowledge the algorithm
Your feed will look very different from someone else’s because the algorithm is programmed to serve you what it thinks you want to see. The news and posts you see will be different from someone who shares different views from yours. Keep that in mind if you’re stressed or triggered about what you’re seeing and perhaps make it a point to regularly either add new sources of information to your feed or weed through it occasionally and purging folks with whom you have no engagement or interaction.
3. Decrease the disruption
Social media is designed to disrupt you and to be addictive. Notice when this happens and start to manage against it. You may need to turn off notifications or delete apps from your phone if you find you can’t step away. Always remember that you are in control of the disruption that is social media, and sometimes the best thing you can do is to just step away, and decrease that disruption.
4. Take social interactions offline
The true power of social media is when it’s combined with real life. That means moving beyond the keyboard and taking your relationships to a different, more meaningful place. That might include phone conversations, video chats, or having in-person meetings and get-togethers. If you want to build a real connection, make it a point to take your social interactions from online relationships to one-on-one, real life relationships and interactions ASAP.
5. Watch for the time suck
My friend Barry Moltz has been known to call social media and internet searching the “world-wide waste of time” — and he’s right! I know that YouTube and Facebook can make hours disappear for me. You know what makes you lose hours of productive time. Watch for being sucked down the rabbit hole of cute animal videos, or whatever you enjoy.
6. Establish boundaries
When it comes to finding social media sanity, remember that you have the ability to establish boundaries. Remind yourself that social media works for you, you don’t work for it. Establish boundaries for when you will and will not engage. Schedule time on your calendar for it if you need to and then don’t go on when it’s not scheduled.
7. Know your news limits
Knowing your news limits can help with finding social media sanity in a big way. How much news do we really need to read or watch? We need to be informed, but do we need 24 hours of news every single day? Personal news limits will of course vary person to person, and only you know what your limits are. Knowing those limits means figuring out the best way to stay current, but also keeping yourself out of anger or despair.
8. Prioritize business interactions
If you are using social media for business, try limiting yourself to interacting with people who are engaging with you in a business context.
Then, have scheduled time for being social and catching up with friends and family. During these times, you can just let yourself go with the flow.
9. Counterbalance negativity
In our interview, Jon-David talks about the importance of meditation, exercise, and going out with friends, and how that has helped him immensely. Please know that if you are down or feeling depressed, these may be the last things you feel like doing, but you should try to do them anyway. There’s a really good chance that you’ll feel better if you do.
10. Share your struggles
One of the ways of finding sanity in social media is to counteract feeling crappy about your struggles by sharing them with others. Find other entrepreneurs or small business owners and talk about lumpy revenue streams, cash flow issues, uncertainty, and all the things we all struggle with. Sharing your struggles doesn’t solve your problems, but it does help to know you’re not alone, and there is definitely both wisdom and power in the community of friendship.
My whole interview with Jon-David is below. I hope you’ll watch or listen to it when you’ve got a moment, especially if finding sanity in social media with all that’s going on in your life can be challenging.
One thing I know for certain about depression and the power of social media: When you choose to open up and share personal thoughts and feelings with friends you’ve made through social media channels or a community you’ve joined, you may well be overwhelmed by the solidarity and support you receive when you share. Others may have been dying to share as well, and didn’t have a safe place or the courage to go first. That’s what inspired me to create The Depression Discussions™: The Conversations Entrepreneurs Need to Have, to encourage these conversations, and to help create a safe place for these conversations to take place.
Jon-David is terrific and the insights he shares during the course of our interview are incredibly valuable—I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. And if you want more, you can find other interviews I’ve done here. I hope you’ll also join The Depression Discussions™: The Conversations Entrepreneurs Need to Have here on Facebook.
The original version of this article was first published on Carol Roth blog.