Trust me: I am a massive fan of social media, but there are days when I get the urge to delete all my profiles and just disappear for a while. Part of the lure of social media is the connection I feel to others. But this is also its downfall. Sometimes, I feel too connected, like I know too much, and like others—particularly strangers, or lurkers—know too much about me. Sometimes, the only way I feel I can limit and control the information I consume or expend is to rid myself of social media entirely.
Yes, taking a break from social media is perfectly fine, and often necessary. But when these days arise, I know I need to implement better, more mindful rules around how I use social media. Social media shouldn’t get you to a point where you want to just erase yourself and disappear from it all. Most of the time, this feeling emerges when I’m going through a rough patch in my life, but it can just as easily happen when I’m doing fine. From triggering news stories to feelings of FOMO, the reasons for wanting to escape social media are endless.
Either way, here are some of the ways I cater to my mental health and avoid social media burnout.
Muting users, hashtags, and keywords.
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way: the mute button. Long live the mute button!
There are people in your life you give a courtesy follow: your family, you ex-boss, your friends from high school that you haven’t spoken to since graduation 10 years ago. You don’t really care what they’re up to, and they don’t exactly bother you, but you prefer not to be rude, so you follow them. I’ve hidden a lot of people from showing up on my feed this way. You’re still giving them the courtesy follow, they don’t know you’ve muted them, and you get to enjoy your feed without seeing random pictures of their kids and their pets (even if they are cute).
My list of muted hashtags and keywords is also a mile long. Don’t want the new episode of your favorite TV show spoiled? Mute. Don’t care about what everyone is saying about the latest “It” celebrity? Mute. Don’t ever want to see that particular politician’s name or face on your feed ever again? Mute!
Or, just unfollow.
Want to do yourself an even bigger favor? Hit that Unfollow button and be done with it. I’ve had to unfollow many accounts over the past year. My rule of thumb is: if it isn’t motivating you, making you smile, or inspiring you, get rid of it.
When that’s not enough, hit them with the ban hammer.
Ah, the good ‘ole Block button. Don’t be afraid to use this. Some people aren’t even worth a second thought.
Implementing Lists on Twitter.
Lists are one of my favorite features of Twitter, and most people aren’t even aware of them. It’s a way for you to organize your own personal feed based on whatever you want—and the great thing is, you don’t have to FOLLOW the people you add to lists. As long as their profile is public, you can add them to your List and read their tweets!
I have various private lists, from Daily Reads and IRL Friends to Writers & Editors and Video Game News. This has greatly helped me manage the content I consume on Twitter. For example, if I only want to read tweets from my favorite accounts that day, I just go to my Daily Reads list. If I only want to read tweets about video games, I check out my Video Game News list. This helps me focus on specific interests throughout the day and filter out everything else.
Honestly, I wish Instagram had a List feature! Sorting accounts by categories would be a real game-changer. Sometimes I just want to see my favorite bullet journal accounts all in one place, and nothing else.
Creating Mindful boards on Pinterest.
Pinterest is one of my favorite platforms purely for its bookmarking features and recommendations. It has been the best place for me to curate a motivation board that I reference when I need a little pep talk. Here, I create a type of vision board where I save motivating quotes, pictures, and other reminders. Then, Pinterest suggests similar recommendations for me to discover and add.
You can choose to make these boards public or private, and either way, they are incredibly beneficial. Just like Twitter’s lists help you stay focused on your particular interest, Pinterest will send you down a rabbit hole of all of the things you love. Since it’s not nearly as focused on “going viral” as Instagram and TikTok is, you can enjoy whatever your interests are purely for inspiration.
Whenever I feel like I need a feel-good pick-me-up, I go straight to Pinterest and get lost in my hobbies and motivation boards for a little while. It’s always a good time.
How do you help manage your mental health on social media? I’d love to know!
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Megan Portorreal is a professional writer, editor, and creative in the New York City area. In her spare time, she enjoys reading books, writing about her life, and playing video games.