Steps to help manage social media and your mental health

Do you need a break from the tense climate?
Posted at 1:26 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 17:48:20-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — If you've spent time on social media lately, you've probably noticed just how tense things can be. Even with all of the ugly comments and disagreements, News5 learned there are steps we can take to manage the impact of social media on our mental health.

On our phones and computers, day after day people on social media joust over political opinions and how we should be handling the coronavirus pandemic. Experts say all the negativity can be taxing on our mental health. It's why they say we should think about how we manage it.

"That's kind of my whole mission. I want other people to fall in love with who they are right now. Not them 10 pounds lighter, or once they get their dream job," said Shaylee Meurer, a local social media influencer.

Meurer spends several hours a week interacting with people on social media. She has to balance the good with the bad.

"Even today, that one negative comment feels like it goes over a hundred positive comments," said Meurer. "It can throw off your entire day."

Even though Meurer uses social media and digital platforms to make money, she says it's important to be honest with yourself. Sometimes it's good to just take a break from social media.

"I do think social media can be a dark place. Of course it can. Especially if you are personally in a dark place," said Meurer. "I think getting on Facebook first thing in the morning when you wake up and seeing everybody arguing on there isn't going to help your mental health."

The social media climate inspired digital expert and UCCS lecturer Lauren Hug to write a book called "Digital Kindness."

"Words live on. These things can be screen-captured. They are hard to erase," said Hug. "If you say something in the heat of the moment that you don't really mean, or that maybe you would have said more nuanced, it doesn't go away in a social media space."

Hug says the best parts of social media focus on sharing experiences, not just links to articles. She says it's important to take disagreements offline to add context.

"These are people with kids, and pets, and interests and people they care for and are worried about. So it's not just one factor that makes a person," said Hug. "The more that we can see their total humanity the more we can give them grace for things we disagree with."

In 2020, a growing number of people are also utilizing the block button. Hug says in many cases it's only dividing us more.

"The more that we do that the less empathy we have for people that have different viewpoints," said Hug. "The more we think that we are right and that there's no other way people think, it creates more polarization."

Rebound Rundown:

Do an emotional check-in: Ask yourself if you might benefit from some kind of a break from social media

On social media, your words live on. Take the time to think before you comment or post.

Take disagreements offline to add context.

Give grace. Try to find some common ground and use the block button as a last resort.

Have resources available for yourself or anyone else who appears to be struggling with their mental health on social media.

If you would like to pick up a copy of Lauren Hug's "Digital Kindness":

To connect with social media influencer Shaylee Meurer:
Facebook Page
On Instagram

Here are some of those helplines and resources:

Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention
Free and confidential support groups for adults and adolescents with thoughts or actions toward suicide. Support groups for family members of attempters. Children Left Behind by Suicide: weekly grief support groups for youth who have lost someone to suicide.

Phone: (719) 573-7447
Address: 704 N. Tejon St, Colorado Springs 80903

Colorado Crisis Services (24 hour hotline)
Phone: (844) 493–TALK (8255)
Text: "TALK" to 38255

Monthly support groups for adults who have lost someone to suicide from 7-9pm on the first Tuesday of each month.

Location: East Methodist Church, 1505 E. Monument St, 80903
Phone: (719) 337-6640

Aspen Pointe Lighthouse
Phone: (719) 572-6340

Self-Injury Hotline
Phone: (800) 366-8288). {800-DONT-CUT}

Suicide Prevention (National)
Phone: (800) 273-TALK (8255)

The Trevor Project
The only national 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ young people (ages 13-24).

Phone: (866) 488-7386
Text: "TREVOR" to (202) 304-1200

National Veterans Crisis Line
Phone: (800) 273-8255 /press 1

Vets 4 Warriors
(answered 24/7 by veterans)
Phone: (855) 838-8255

Phone: (877) 542-SAFE (7233)

Peak Military Care Network
Extensive directory of all local services, and state and national resources, for veterans, active-duty personnel, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families.

Phone: (719) 955-0742
Military 1 Source (a hub for all military-related services)
Phone: (800) 342-9647

If you would like to pick up a copy of Lauren Hug's "Digital Kindness":

To connect with social media influencer Shaylee Meurer:
Facebook Page
On Twitter