Social Media

Make It Work For Your Own Mental Health

Mitchell Deshazer
August 2, 2023 / 5 mins read

How many times do you pick up your mobile device to check your social media? How often do you catch yourself mindlessly scrolling? Social media can be a nice recreational tool and a way to connect with our family and friends. Have you ever thought about using it for achieving your health and recovery goals?

Taking steps to improve our health, be it physical, psychological, financial, or relational takes time and practice. Often, healthy patterns don’t happen by default and our patterns for functioning in life get shaped unconsciously from our upbringing and the cultures from which we live. Tech is a part of our culture and whether we are aware of it or not, it is a present part of our lives every day. Just like with any tool, we have the choice to wield its potential for our own betterment.

In the last couple of years, I began observing my use of tech and how it influenced my life. I noticed that I was feeling negative after scrolling my social media and very reactive toward others. I took time away from the device for a while and when I returned I consciously decided to begin filling these spaces with media that helped enrich my day instead of triggering frustration. The results were formative and I noticed that I was directing the use of this very powerful tool to better my own life.

In the past few years, various social media accounts have begun devoting themselves to helping people grow. In my personal life and practice, I have found that consuming materials from these sources has contributed to my own development and allowed me to offer a practical resource for the patients I serve. Here is some information that may be a good jumping off point for you:

  1. Take some time to observe yourself and how you consume social media. Ask yourself what inspires you, what brings you joy, and what is depleting you when you engage with your social media accounts. This may also be a good time to reflect on the function of your social media use. Social media in itself is not bad but sometimes it may be functioning for more than entertainment and maybe a distraction from something more serious happening in our lives.
  2. Purge or silence what isn’t working or triggers you. Most social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram have features for unfollowing. If you don’t want to cancel a person, consider unfollowing or silencing them for a period of time. Most social media accounts don’t even inform the followers of these changes so you don’t have to worry about offending others.
  3. Reset your algorithms. This is often done by who you follow and what you search for on your social media. As you connect with healthier media sources, your feeds and recommendations will begin to change.
  4. Add inspiration and tools for helping you achieve your goals. Think about where you are and what goals for growth you have for yourself. Consider searching on social media for accounts that connect with your goals and passions. This can be done by using hashtags (#) or by simply typing in keywords (e.g. addiction recovery, emotional wellness, healthy eating, parenting, etc).

Although it may take some additional awareness and intentionality, we have the opportunity to set up our mobile devices to work for us. We can fortify our mental health and nourish our nervous system by limiting doom scrolling, comparisons, and our compulsion to never miss out. Instead, we can choose to connect with people that make us better, learn new skills, and embrace life-giving content. We can also “go off-line” every now and then and take in the present moment. We can do what works best for us!

Check out what some of our Gateway Staff members are engaging with!

I’m on a bipolar Facebook support page. I find it extremely helpful. Anytime I post on the page, no matter the time of day or night, I will have several people reach out to me. You can just search bipolar support group. A lot of options will come up, but this is the one that I am a part of.

“I’ve been using the Ten Percent Happier app for about four years now. I like the courses, podcasts and additional features.”

“The Libby app allows me to enter my library card number and borrow books and audiobooks from the public library.”

“I found this podcast, Hacking Your ADHD, helpful when I was diagnosed with ADHD.”

“I prefer Reddit. I’m in a sciatica, neurodivergent, and ADHD subreddit. They have all been a great support.”

“The 'Intuitive Eating for Beginners: An Anti-Diet Support Group' has been a really helpful group for me as I started my recovery journey around food and body acceptance.”

“I am a part of the 'Be The Bridge' Facebook group to help me engage in thoughtful conversations that challenge my racial biases.”

If you or someone you know needs recovery support, please reach out to Gateway at 273-1170 x0. We are excited to be a part of your journey.

Mitchell DeShazer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Clinical Director for Gateway to Prevention and Recovery. He has worked with various individuals, couples, and families with the goal of helping to improve individual and relational health.