Responsible social media use can benefit mental health


Zulfiqar Ahmed

It’s important to set boundaries with social media to protect mental health.

By Zulfiqar Ahmed, Media Editor

Most of us can claim that we have grown up with social media surrounding our life. The influence it has on our daily activities is undeniable. One of the most prevalent side effects of this influence is anxiety and depression caused by the unrealistic expectations set by social media. Celebrity vacation pictures, unhealthy eating habits, impractical lifestyles and misinformation are triggers for a lot of us and make us despise ourselves, keeping us in a vicious cycle of unsustainable habits.

But just like a person that has high cholesterol needs to be disciplined and avoid fast food for their physical health, we need to cultivate the discipline to regulate our use of social media to protect our mental health.

I have struggled with social anxiety and connecting with people in the real world and I am certainly not the only one. I have developed little habits that helped me regulate my use of social media and they have greatly changed the way I feel.

I decide on what I gain from each of my social media accounts is so I know what I use it for. This way, I almost always come to an app to do something specific and not spend endless hours scrolling. I use Instagram for connecting with like-minded photographers so we could possibly communicate and do photoshoots together. Facebook never appealed to me until I figured that it’s a great place to find multiple solutions to a problem on Facebook groups.

I absolutely refrain from using my phone before and after I sleep. I realize it sounds like I just woke up one day, quite literally, and it worked. However, it took many weeks of trial and error to get here. It’s nearly impossible for me to go to sleep when I am looking at my phone scrolling through memes to laugh at. It’s even worse when I wake up because I check my emails and messages and slowly get lost right at the start of my day, just to realize I’ve already spent an hour in bed and now have to rush to get things done.

Try to stay in communities that you know are a safe space for conversation. Oftentimes the virtual conflicts we may stir up or get involved in, deeply affect the way we perceive and interact with people in real life. Faceless users passing insensitive comments only made my anxiety worse. If someone makes a rude comment, block them and interact with people that you know or trust.

Lastly, have conversations with yourself. I feel like it has helped me understand from time to time that some of my habits are hurting me and my sanity greatly and that my mind and my body could make peace by cooperating and knocking out our bad habits.

I am not a doctor, and I certainly don’t do psychology. But I do have an Instagram account that ruined my mental health for years and I won’t let it get the best of me again.