By now, we all know Eugene, the egg that stole the Instagram throne from lip-kit-maven, Kylie Jenner. Eugene showed us all that a humble egg could break the Internet.
But more importantly, Eugene used his platform for good by raising awareness of the toll social media can take on mental health.
While social media can keep you feeling connected and can help capture some of life’s finer moments—like that concert with your BFF, that hike with your family, or that time your teacher did that one HILARIOUS thing—it’s not always so great for your mental wellness.
Social media has been linked to an increase in mental health disorders, lower self-esteem, depression and a serious fear of missing out, aka FOMO. When we see others’ curated lives, it can often make us reflect on our own. And what we tend to focus on isn’t all the good things, but the things we want to change.
It’s human nature to compare what you have with what it seems others have (emphasis on “seems” because no one’s life is as glamorous as presented on Instagram!). And if scrolling through social feeds is starting to bum you out, it might be time to unplug. Disconnecting for even just a little bit can give your brain some space and can help you prioritize those IRL moments. And unlike using marijuana—which can impact brain development and cause symptoms of mental health problems like psychosis (hallucinations), anxiety (panic attacks), depression, and sleep disorders—managing time spent online is a healthy way to improve mental health, mood, and even sleep cycles.
Full-disclaimer: The ways we often use social media has been shown to mirror other addictive behaviors, so quitting can be tough. But there are ways you can mindfully manage your digital diet.
- You can start by setting timers. Instagram has added a tool to help you set time limits on daily use. When viewing your profile page in Instagram, click the right-corner menu and select “Your Activity.” There you can see how much time you’re averaging daily, set limits on use, and set reminders for when you’ve reached your limit.
- You can also decrease late night scrolling—which we know is super hard. All that pre-bed screen time and blue light exposure can seriously mess with your sleep schedule and your overall health. And fewer Zzz’s can negatively impact mood and mental health, leading to more stress and anxiety.
- You can spring clean your news feed. If someone’s social feed makes you feel bad, you don’t have any obligation to follow them! If you don’t want to click that unfollow button just yet, mute their channel and free up your feed for those people that make you feel positive and powerful.
So now that you’re unplugging, may we recommend a few of our favorite self-care activities?
- Get outside and explore. Being in nature = improved mood.
- Journal. Take all those thoughts that may be cluttering your headspace and write them down.
- Listen to your favorite album, start to finish. No shuffling!
- Face mask. Or have a spa night in with friends. And yes, you can enjoy a moisturizing sheet mask no matter your gender identification!
- Meditate. Deep breathing can help manage stress and help you refocus.
- Craft or cook with friends. Create something! Anything!
- Exercise. Moving your body can help release endorphins. Endorphins means a happier you.
- Talk it out. Whether with a friend, a family member, a trusted adult, or a therapist, talking through the things that weigh on you—no matter how big or small—is an important part of self-care. Need someone to talk to? TeenLink provides free, confidential help to teens. Find out more at https://www.teenlink.org/