Blog: How to use social media in a healthy way

Author James Birch is a 2nd year Geography student at the University of Liverpool.

Nowadays, we all live in a world that revolves around social media. Social media is a fantastic platform where we can communicate with one another, discover more about the world as well as share ideas and experiences. However, social media can also be a toxic place.

Don’t compare yourself to others

There are many ways we can remain healthy whilst using social media. My first tip is don’t compare yourself to others. I realise this is very easily done; however, everyone is unique and we all have our own original personalities and qualities that make us who we are and that we should all be proud of. We all need to appreciate and understand that social media only shows people’s best highlights and experiences. We’re not always on top-form or doing something exciting that is ‘postable’. Everyone has bad days but these are never really presented on social media. When was the last time you saw an insta post of someone who had just woken up after a night out? Everyone experiences similar issues and problems so don’t worry when someone seems to be living the perfect life. I can assure you this doesn’t exist and many of the people you follow on social media will be facing problems just as you are.

Limit use

Another tip for maintaining a positive and healthy mindset is limiting the time you spend on social media. Why not go outside, get some fresh air and try something new with friends or something that you are passionate about? There are so many societies you can get involved with at uni and fill up your time more productively. By all means, I am not trying to deter you from using social media completely, but like most things, social media is best used in moderation. Often, we can become all too caught up in this virtual world and end up living our own life alongside a social media life. A way to avoid this is by switching off all social media maybe for one day a week or even just a few hours a day. This will help us to reconnect with the world and live a more balanced lifestyle.

Don’t worry about ‘likes’

A healthy digital diet is key to our happiness. Posting pictures and statuses to seek gratification from others, such as measuring the success of a post by the number of ‘likes’ it receives is an unhealthy way to use social media. This can negatively affect our state of mind, potentially causing us to question why our posts didn’t receive more likes. A way to avoid this is by not returning to your post for a day or two. Try to not be concerned about other people’s opinions of your post or worry about whether they approve of it with a ‘like’. There are many more important things to life than ‘likes’. As long as you are happy and have enjoyed the experience that you have shared on social media, that is all that matters. If you find yourself consistently worrying about receiving quantitative validation from others on your post, maybe consider deactivating one form of social media or try to phase out using a certain platform. This will help to alleviate any stress you may be feeling on social media.

Keep social media out of the workplace

As previously mentioned, social media is a fantastic platform where we can express our thoughts and document our travels, achievements and memorable events. However, we can become so engrossed in social media that our productivity in the workplace or at uni is severely reduced. A tip to address this issue is to remove all social media tabs from your computer when working. We’re all guilty of being tempted to click onto social media when we receive a notification, however, by removing these tabs, we can complete tasks more efficiently. Similarly, we can remove our tablets or phones to a different room when we’re working, so to avoid distractions. We should focus on increasing the number of face to face interactions we have on a daily basis and learning more about our friends and colleagues.

By no means am I trying to completely deter people from using social media – it’s great. We can share memories, stay up to date with our friends, favourite celebrities and industries. I just want to make clear that being happy and healthy is more important in life than the amount of likes you receive or followers you have on social media. Remember people only share the best aspects of their lives, not the bad days. If you feel that social media is negatively affecting you, try some of the above tips and maybe limit the time you spend on social media, take up a new hobby or society or deactivate the social media platform that is making you unhappy.

How to get support if you need it

If at any time during your studies you feel you might benefit from some extra support, we are here to help.

We offer a wellbeing drop-in between 11am-3pm every weekday in the Alsop Building for practical and pastoral support in a confidential space. You don’t need to book – simply come along to the Student Welfare Advice and Guidance Information Point on the ground floor of the Alsop Building (on University Square).

Services available for our students include: