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Turning Social Media into a Form of Self-Care

By: Tim de Pass

woman using a cell phone

In the social media era it is a common experience: it’s Friday night and there is a new Netflix documentary playing on your TV that you are vaguely paying attention to. Out of boredom and habit, you begin to scroll through Instagram, only to become overwhelmed by pictures of everyone having the best night of their lives. You then begin to have a feeling of discomfort and start wondering, “why am I not experiencing the same excitement as everyone else?” To escape this feeling, you open Twitter only to find your feed is producing a constant stream of violent events, opinions contributing to further discrimination, or news stories that make you lose faith in your world leaders.

Social media keeps us connected with those around us but can also produce snapshots of our world that leaves us with a feeling of malaise. Social media is such an integral part of our society that it is nearly impossible to not participate. But there is a way that we can use social media as an advantage while turning it into a form of self-care.

One solution is to modify who we follow on our social media feeds. Following accounts that promote positivity and success creates a balance of content that may help us avoid becoming blue about what is going on around us. If we are already in a sad mood, scrolling social media that is filled with negativity will perpetuate our feelings of sadness. However, after adjusting who and what we follow, social media has the ability to make us feel happier.

Social media is filled with stories of triumph and the beauty of the human condition. If we can expose ourselves to more of this type of content, it has the power to be a valuable self-care technique.

Aaron Beck, a psychiatrist, developed a concept called Beck’s cognitive triad, which is based upon the idea that negative and unhelpful thinking about a person's self, world, and future contributes to depression. It is interesting to wonder if the amount of harmful social media we consume could influence the three key elements in Beck’s cognitive triad. If we are scrolling through Instagram and are swamped by images of people having such a fun time we may think, “I wish I was like them,” leading to a negative view of ourselves. Or, if our Twitter feed is filled with disturbing news stories, we could start thinking, “the world is such an ugly place,” creating a destructive view of the world. If we adjust the variety of accounts we follow on social media to include ones that are proponents of happiness, it may help us take care of our mental health.

Take some time and explore the kindhearted accounts on whatever platform you use, starting with the three recommendations below.

Three Joyful Social Media accounts:

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