Living for likes: How to have a healthier relationship with social media

This article was last updated 27 February 2020.

We all know that living for 'likes' or that perfect selfie is a sure-fire way to mess up your mojo! Social media is great for keeping up with friends and family, posting about your achievements or sharing things you find interesting. But how do we know if our social media use is turning into an unhealthy habit?

Watch how Fatimah, Laura and Danny recognised that social media was having a negative impact on their mental health, and how they built a healthier relationship with it.

So how did these fab three recognise when their social media use was getting out of hand and what did they do to switch things up?

Here are some things to look out for:

Endless scrolling and comparing your life to others

Laura found herself glued to her phone and endlessly scrolling during her long commute to work, then she’d arrive at work feeling bad about herself. Sound familiar? It’s easy to get drawn into comparing your life with the glossy pics you see on your social feed, and forget that these aren’t always what they seem. Laura decided to use her commute to write instead, which eventually evolved into a popular blog about mental health.

Living for likes instead of living in the moment

Fatimah found herself going to events just to get that perfect pic rather than enjoying time with her friends. She soon realised she was ‘living for an app’ rather than for herself. If you find yourself going to events to pose for photos or ‘check-in’ at cool spots without actually enjoying yourself, try to think about activities you might enjoy without your phone and focus on those instead. When you do take photos, think about what you’ll remember when you look back on them, rather than how many likes they’ll get.

Allowing negative comments to affect your self-worth

Danny found he was focusing on the negative comments on his feeds, which led to him going to great lengths to get likes, and ultimately felling unwell. If you are struggling with negative comments online, or with issues around your body image, don’t be afraid to speak to someone you trust – many people have struggled with body confidence and bullying at one time or another. There is also lots of free professional support out there to help you with issues around mental health and social media.

What can you do to have a more positive relationship with social media?

  • Take back control - try scheduling posts instead of live posting
  • Give yourself set times throughout the day to check likes and comments on your posts and respond to messages
  • When you go on social media, try to have one or two main reasons to be there – it could be catching up with a friend or posting a cute video of your cat, but if you find yourself endlessly scrolling, put the down the phone!
  • If you do want a general catch up on social, try to limit yourself to a 10-15 minute scroll at a time that fits around your IRL (in-real-life) activities!
  • Avoid going on social media first thing in the morning or last thing at night
  • Turn off notifications on social media apps that are causing you problems or move them from the main screen on your phone to avoid clicking on them out of habit
  • Focus on IRL relationships and enjoying activities, rather than how they might look on social media
  • Speak to someone you trust about problems you are having related to social media – they’re more common that you might think
  • Get professional support if it’s affecting your health and wellbeing. There is a lot of support out there.

Where to get support.

If you have been affected by anything in this article, visit Young Minds for more information about mental health and social media, and how to get support.

It is always good to speak to someone you trust about the issues you might be facing, no matter how big or small. Although it can be hard talking about mental health, it’s something that affects us all, and if you are having trouble, don’t feel ashamed or different, and don’t feel you have to hide away from it. Speaking to your GP or health professional can put you in contact with the right people who can help, and the support can be life changing.

You can also get support from Mind and the NHS

You can find more advice about how to manage your social media in our article on How to love yourself more (and social media less)

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