Keeping Yourself Sane When You're Using Social Media
Ever leave social media feeling a whole lot less confident about yourself and your business?
Yeah, us too.
It's so easy to get in there and get into compare mode without even realizing it and, before you know it, you're either filled with self-doubt or have a new long list of things you"should"be doing (and presumably now feel guilty about because you haven't done any of them thus far).
And it's not like you can just stop using social media altogether. You can't just ward these platforms off like you would a vampire because...well... we've yet to see garlic have any effect and social media isn't just after your blood;it has some overwhelmingly positive features as well that make it a really important part of any business plan.
So, how do we use these tools without getting sucked into those negativity cycles? Well, we'd be lying if we said there was one perfect answer to this conundrum.
Chances are that even if you follow the tips below, you'll still have days where being in those mediated spaces gets you down, but the goal here is to minimize those days because, let's get real, your mental health needs to be in good stead if you're going to keep growing your business.
With that in mind, let's get into it!
REMEMBER, IT'S NOT REAL
To exemplify this, I wanted to share the picture below with you from my trip to Mexico in January.
Looks like a whole lot of fun in the sun, doesn't it? Like my boyfriend and I don't have a care in the world, right?
Well in reality about 10 minutes after that picture was taken a massive thunderstorm rolled in and it rained so hard that the streets flash flooded and we had to spend about 40 minutes driving literally blind, through puddles of water that came up to our knees, while rain pelted at us so hard it felt like we were getting stung by a million bees.
If that picture was an accurate representation of our day, it would have been of me sobbing on the side of the road instead.
So looks can be deceiving and the exact same lesson can be applied to posts about running a business.
Social media has a way of making it look super exciting and ultra glamorous and it's not that it isn't sometimes, but where are the pictures of people stuck in their hotel rooms while on vacation because there's no one else who can answer emails?
Where are the videos of people crying over their laptops at 2 am because they're not sure they're going to make payroll this month?
And where are all of the posts about what a sh*t show it was getting all of those final details together to make launch day?
If social media were an honest reflection on what running a business is like, you'd see a lot more posts like these and you'd have a WAY more realistic picture of what's involved but, unfortunately, maintaining the illusion is ultimately better for making sales and that's not going to change anytime soon so you just want to find ways to remind yourself that what you see isn't necessarily what you get.
Sometimes I think about tattooing "it's not real" on my hand so I don't forget, but that also feels pretty excessive so I've elected to put a little sticky note on my computer screen instead.
I've also got this picture hanging on my office wall above my computer screen too and it doesn't just make me laugh, it's a great sanity check when I see something that makes me feel lesser.
Little tricks like this can ground you when you feel yourself getting worked up about something you see on social media. Think of them like lifelines that you can use to pull yourself out when things get weird. You just need to set some up before you dive in!
SET YOUR INTENTIONS AT THE OUTSET
Social media usually has the worst effect on me when I go into the platform for no particular reason. This mostly happens when I've clicked on something that links back to Facebook and then, before I know it, I'm mindlessly scrolling through my feed and comparing myself to everything I see.
And it's honestly so weird how this happens. It's kind of like sleepwalking. You start off in bed, but then you come to and you're standing on the front lawn in your underwear, have no idea how you got there, and are woefully unprepared to deal with the sprinklers that are about to turn on.
That's why setting your intentions before you enter the social media sphere is so important. Its a way of preparing yourself for what's to come AND it's going keep you focused on the task at hand, not the things that can bring you down.
If I need to go into Instagram to do a story, then that's what I'm there for. If I need to engage with our audience, then that's what I'll do and as soon as I'm done that thing, I'm back out into the real world.
Again, it's not a foolproof solution. Social media companies have spent a lot of money researching how to keep us on their platform and we are all only human, after all. However, setting your intentions before you get into these spaces will keep the bulk of your social media time more structured and purposeful and that's all we can really ask for.
USE A DIFFERENT APPLICATION FOR YOUR NEWS
I used to use Facebook as my news source because it's easy to follow what you like and it's pretty nice having everything you need to digest for a day in one scrollable feed. That said, in between all that stuff I wanted to see was a bunch of contrived perfection that reminded me how imperfect I am, so I went looking for a different application that I could use in a similar way and it's been a serious boon to my mental health.
I landed on an application called Feedly because you can link in any outside source and its very scrollable, but there are other options out there (like PaperOak or Inoreader) so experiment and see what feels right for you.
What I've found is that narrowing the purpose of social media in this way just helps you limit the time you spend in it and create more focused intentions around it and all of that will keep your interactions mostly positive instead of increasingly negative.
SHARE WITH FRIENDS & COLLEAGUES IN YOUR FIELD
You're probably already doing this, but it's worth adding to this list. Whenever I see something that fills me with self-doubt I share it with a friend, tell them what's bugging me about it and they always make me feel better. They're our rational brains when our brains don't want to be rational.
Colleagues who work in the same field as you are great for this too because they'll be sympathetic to why you're feeling so touchy and will be able to point out all the ways that post in question skirts reality.
While none of these one things is going to suddenly make all the photoshopped images un-photoshopped or the sales pitches less sales-y, they are a good way to protect your mental health when you're in these spaces - so you still have the capacity to be a #boss.