If you work in a content marketing or social media management role, you’re familiar with the impact that social media management and content creation can have on your mental health — for better or worse. Peeling yourself away from the channels you manage can feel impossible when your phone’s always in reach. The “chime,” “swoosh” or “pulse” of your iPhone is always begging you to tune in, be in the know and comment into the wee hours of the night. Yes, social channels are a part of modern culture, business and enterprise but what role do they play in our levels of social media anxiety and depression? And how can we set ourselves up for success not only in taking reprieve from the channels we’re paid to manage but the personal channels that keep us “connected” in an increasingly disconnected world. Employees of digital creative agencies are more and more aware of the impact social media has on their mental health — this is especially relevant as working from home has become the norm and face-to-face interaction is dwindling.
The truth is that much research is needed on the correlation between the use of social networking sites (SNSs) and mental health. Fortunately, current research findings aren’t all dark shadows, rain clouds and pesky shoulder devils. It turns out that the way we interact with, and the choices we make about, SNSs have a huge impact on whether the experience is joyful, down right depressing or somewhere in-between. The relationship between SNS use, depression and anxiety is complex. Making a handful of decisions now about how, with who and when you’ll interact with social channels, either at work or in your personal life, may be a good first step in taking care of your future self.
Keep Your Feels In Check
Stay mindful of how the people you follow affect your self image. Making the decision to stop following a group or individual because they make you feel like you’re less-than is smart. Researchers have found that passive Facebook users experiencing high levels of “Facebook envy” expressed greater depressive symptoms than individuals with low levels of Facebook envy. Don’t tune out your emotions when interacting with social media channels … your body is always trying to tell you something.
Another study found that those who use SNSs actively (for work, content creation, influencing) experience a more complex relationship with SNSs than do passive users. In fact, in this same study depressive symptoms positively correlated with more frequent content production and interactive communications. These studies are two of many but they do highlight the importance of SNS mindfulness.
If it smells like a fish and it looks like a fish it’s probably a fish, right? Unfollowing handles that bring you down, hammer your self-esteem or boil your blood is probably a good decision. If managing SNSs is part of your job and unfollowing a handle is above your pay grade, consider talking to your higher up and coming prepared with some reasons why you’d like to unfollow from a company point of view.
Manage Notifications and Keep “Do Not Disturb” Hours
Have you ever been waiting restlessly for a piece of news (a job offer let’s say), refreshing your email every 55 seconds and checking your internet connection like an elf counting down the days ’til Christmas? Ya, us too. When that little notification sound finally makes its way to your ear a chemical reaction occurs inside your body.
The simple act of checking your phone or hearing an alert activates your sympathetic nervous system — the part of your body that’s responsible for scanning the environment and making quick decisions about your surroundings. Once that adrenaline kicks in so do a series of internal reactions including increased heart rate, increased pulse and muscle tension. This is a massive problem for those of us who rely on content marketing and social media management to make a living.
There are apps that can help you track time spent on SNSs, the results of which can be quite shocking. You could also opt to turn alert sounds off altogether and make a schedule of checking channels once or twice every hour. Plus, scheduling certain times to respond to DMs, comments and requests is one way to stay on track, minimize distractions and save your precious time and energy.
"Being very intentional about when, how and for what reason you receive notifications is extremely relevant in battling social media anxiety. "
This is especially true if you work for a digital creative agency. Setting boundaries between work and your personal life is healthy and so is minimizing busy work. If your employer disagrees it might be time to punch that clock for the last time and find yourself a new gig.
Keep An Eye On Your Consumption
We already mentioned phone monitoring apps that can help you track the time you spend on certain social media platforms. These apps are great because they are often a bit of an embarrassing reality check. Apps that specifically monitor and help you with screen time management are ideal if your consumption has become a tad excessive. Once you have the data in front of you you can then move to acceptance and action.
Apps to Check Out
ZenScreen iOS, Android, Desktop
BreakFree iOS, Android
Social Fever Android
RealizD iOS, Android
Space iOS, Android Desktop
When you reach for your phone ask yourself if what you’re about to do is necessary or purposeful. Yes, a touch of mindless scrolling here or there can be fun. If it’s become a habit that makes you feel guilty or is getting in the way of other more rewarding items on your to-do list it’s probably time to start asking yourself what your intention for clicking on that app is. You might be surprised how asking yourself this simple question will keep you from mindlessly entertaining the social media beast.
Talk It Out
If you’ve noticed that time spent on social media is making you see red, feel blue or turn green it’s probably time to say it out loud and take action. If these feelings are a result of work endeavors you may reach out to your creative cohort and let them know you’re in a rut of sorts. You may need a bit of inspiration from your creative sidekicks to flip the script and head in a new direction.
As more and more of us are working from home these days it’s common to feel not only alone but lackluster when it comes to your creativity. Sometimes a new lens can spark joy, passion and a thirst for newness — especially when it comes to content marketing and social media management roles.
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