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The 7 Ways I Use Social Media to Help My Career While Doing Less Harm To My Depression & Anxiety


I am an editor of a blog run by a social media influencer, which may be the most LA career choice there is. If you’ve been around here for a while (and if not – welcome!) you know that my boss is not just an influencer. No. She also happens to be a super talented interior designer, writer, and CEO. But because of the wild west world that is digital media, “influencer” is a new word that can also accurately describe what Emily does.

In case you are wondering, being an editor of a blog that is run by an influencer means that my job is often social media focused, even though I don’t work on the social media team directly. We’re a small business and that means everyone wears multiple hats, so social media is on everyone’s brains. It is a marketing tool that is highly important and effective for our business. So, my job and career as a whole benefit from being on social media and understanding how to capitalize on its potential.

But it’s not that simple. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, I am hyper-aware of how social media affects my mental health. At its worse, it promotes junk values and blind consumerism, as well as perpetuates a facade of authenticity that leads to unrealistic comparisons and severe loneliness. At its best, it’s an outlet for connection, creativity, and self-expression (though probably not connection, creativity, or self-expression in their most pure, honest form). It is hard to find the sweet spot between enjoying social media and avoiding its harmful effects.

So, back in October, I decided to take a break. Or more accurately, I needed to take a break. I’d heard and read about people doing 30-day social fasts and they all preached how life-changing it is. In general, I find that kind of hyperbolic language annoying but I knew I needed to get out of this constant rut of self-loathing. I was starting to get exhausted by my relationship with these apps and was generally just feeling really bad a lot of the time, so instead of rolling my eyes at the notion, I decided to try it. I imagined quitting social media for a month would be hard, something similar to quitting caffeine or going on a diet-things I’ve tried to do in the past but failed considerably fast. Due to the addictive nature of social media, I thought I might fail at this too. 

But I didn’t. I stayed off the apps for 30 days (actually, 32 to be exact), just like I promised I would. I haven’t received my award yet, but I am sure it’ll be coming in the mail any day now. Honestly, I was surprised by how easy it was (besides being out of the loop as it relates to my job). It turns out the “out of sight out of mind” concept really does work. Once I deleted the apps off my phone, a week into my little hiatus the mindless impulse to grab my phone and open an app nearly disappeared. If I did grab my phone out of habit, it would only take a few seconds to realize that there was nothing to look at, so I’d put the phone down and continue with whatever I was doing. Not surprisingly, by the second week, my screen time went from an average of 4.5 hours a day to less than 2 hours. By the third week, my screen time was down to an hour a day, sometimes less. I don’t have to tell you that my productivity increased significantly. 

Overall the experience was more constructive and illuminating than I thought it would be, but a permanent social media fast is not a cure nor is it realistic for the world I work in. So what now? Well, if it’s alright with you I’d like to share what has worked for me in terms of enjoying and gaining something positive from these apps now that I am back in this wild social media world. Let’s get to it.

Ryann Social Media 2

Be Mindful of Who You Follow

I have found so much relief when I unfollow people whose content does not serve me in a positive way. If I am going to be on social media, it only makes sense to create a space where I’ll see the things I want/care to see – things that will educate me, inspire me, or give me joy. Good people to unfollow are models that contribute to a negative personal body image, people you no longer talk to or haven’t seen in over 10 years, and anyone/account that makes you feel less than in any way. Another helpful way to sensor your feed is by using the mute feature. Maybe someone you know posts a little too much about their vacations and overall “perfect” life, but you don’t want to or feel like you can unfollow. They won’t know you muted their posts and you will not miss their content. Everybody wins.

Set Boundaries

When I returned to social I made a rule to set alarms when I do go on it, so I don’t get lost in a mindless scroll. I also promised to not check my phone when I am eating dinner or watching TV or movies. And lastly, as a good rule of thumb, I don’t allow social media to be the last thing I see before I fall asleep or the first thing I put in front of my face when I wake up. But I will be honest. I am a flawed human being and have not been great at sticking to these boundaries. I sometimes forget and sometimes ignore the rules knowingly. But I am trying! And when I do adhere to these rules I feel better. 

“Like” More.

I consider it extending a “thank you” to the person who posted. It gives them acknowledgment and support and makes me feel good, too. In the past, I had this awful habit before where I would bookmark a post but not actually “like” it. At one point I realized I was doing that as if I was hoarding my likes and it felt so gross. Why shouldn’t I give that person credit if I am enjoying their posts? They likely put a good amount of thought and effort into it, so giving them that “hey, I see you and I like what you’ve done here” is just good social media ethics. I also engage in general more, in ways that feel positive. I comment and respond to IG stories even to people I don’t know personally and this has helped me make connections with people I would otherwise never speak to. One time I responded to a girl who works at Manrepeller and we had such a nice little convo AND she followed me back. It was great.

An Emotional Check-In with Yourself Yields The Best Results

I suffer from depression and anxiety, but I know that even those who don’t also have a hard time navigating the negativity that circles around social media. I have found that when I feeling particularly down or out of sorts, going on social media is like jumping in shark-infested waters with a gaping bloody wound. It feels like I am drowning whilst being attacked by happy people clinking glasses and enjoying a life that is WAY more fulfilled that my own. That is generally the story we tell ourselves when we are not at our best, but it is widely inaccurate and harmful. Just allowing yourself to step away when harmful thoughts creep in is majorly effective.

Pay Attention to Your Intentions

Before this experiment, I was not in control of my impulses. There was an impulse to both mindlessly consume content and post the “best” aspects of my life. Not only was I not sure why I was engaging on it so much, but I also was unsure what my motives were for posting. Was I posting for me or was I posting to show some version of myself that I think others will like? Most often it was the latter.

Using and posting anything on social media is going to come with a sliver of vanity because it is designed to make us crave more entertainment and seek out validation. I believe it is completely acceptable to post a great photo of yourself just because you like the way you look, and it is also completely acceptable not to post photos of yourself at all. Knowing that you can post what you want but not allowing other’s opinions to be the reason you post is extremely valuable. Now, when I simply ask myself why I am posting just to check in with my emotions and intentions, it makes all the difference. In short, when I am more mindful I am less of a millenial-social-media-fueled-robot. I am more me.

Make Social Media Work For You

There is a reason being an influencer can be a fulltime job. Whether we agree with it or not, social media is a part of our lives and for a lot of people, it is a part of our careers. I like writing and telling stories and sharing my human experience. I’d love this to be what I do forever, and social media can help me continue doing so even if it isn’t my career. It’s a creative outlet and also, a great place to network. It is not unusual or strange to slide into your hero’s DM’s or hit that follow button and who knows, in doing so you may end up working with that person someday. You can think of your profile as if it is a portfolio you’d present at a job interview if that suits you. It is your profile, make it work for you.

Create Your Own Narrative

I believe that social media is what you make it. Why should we willingly give a non-sentient networking platform so much power that it invades our psyche and harms our point of view? It isn’t always easy, but it is something we can strive towards. With mindfulness and exercising general kindness to ourselves and others, I think it is possible for social media to be educational, fun, illuminating, thoughtful, hilarious, inspiring, and good. For me, social media now more than ever reminds me of the world I want to help create and be apart of, who I want to be, and what art I want to create. It is what I make it. 

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this and if you have any helpful tips for creating a positive digital world, please do tell. xx

Fin Mark


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The only social media app I have/use on a weekly basis is IG (and youtube/goodreads/whatsapp, but I feel like those only sort of count… IG is the only one where I am really prone to mindless scrolling). I am pretty good at unfollowing people, mostly based on whether or not I would be happy to see someone IRL and if their feed feels authentic. There are a few exceptions, but mostly I just follow friends/acquaintances and only a handful of influencers/celebs hanging. Following less people also limits the amount of endless scrolling you can do! If I check my IG for 15 maybe 20 minutes once a day I have seen every post and story there was to see. For me, using IG this way just makes it feel like a fun way to keep in touch with people.

Susan Overton


My son is 16 and is currently studying interior design at college. He’s been interested in the way rooms look and feel for some years now – mostly taking after mum of course 🙂 Anywho, l was looking around the next for ideas on wall panelling which lead me to your website. Wow, so much fantastic goodness.
I’ve shared your site with my son and hubby – just loving everything about it – especially reading your thoughts on doing what you do. I’m a computing teacher and l will certainly be using your thoughts to share with my students (l teach middle and senior school students).

Thank you for such an inspiring start to my day
Sue Overton, UK.

Hi Susan,

So glad you found our site! We’re happy to have you here. Have a great rest of your day 🙂


Great post.
I’d add keep a book on your side table next to your lounging spot. Sometimes if I find I’m mindlessly scrolling, I set down the phone and pick up the book. With real pages in it (I know! Crazy, right?).
I feel a little better about myself and that I’m setting a better example for those whom I live with and love. I have kids but even pets get neglected by mindless scrolling!
I also set a social media alarm on my phone. That helps too, even if sometimes I hit ignore for 15 minutes.

I love this too!

Karen, I started doing this as well in the New Year and it truly helps so much! I love a good real life book, who knew they still existed?! haha

i love this idea!! my phone is right next to my bed, so it’s always the last thing i pick up before bed and first thing in the morning, but ending and starting the day with a book sounds much more productive! 🙂


I had to permanently delete IG. it was so addicting. It was a New Years resolution and I honestly still miss it everyday. I love watching stories! But it always made me feel bad about myself and I was triggered to buy new things all the time. Womp womp.
I did this with Facebook after I graduated college in 2010 and I know the feeling will fade. But dang, if it doesn’t suck right now!
Anyone else going through this?


I have been thinking of deleting my IG. Right now going through the “but what will I miss out on” mentality. I don’t even post that often, and a lot of my IG is cats and healthy stuff but I have a lot of junk on their too. Maybe I will call it a fast and then maybe it will turn permanent! Thank you for sharing that you did this!! Stay strong!


I hear girls your age, including my daughter’s friends, say this about IG and FB all the time and the mother in me comes out. So I say this with as much love as possible. IG and FB can not “make you” feel bad about yourself. Only you can do that. People who think they need to take a break or delete it all together need to look at themselves for the cause of their feelings, not outside social influences. IG and FB do not have power or control over our feelings. I know FOMO is real but we have power, control and strength to recognize that we can enjoy our time without it being documented, we have great family and friends and don’t need to compare our dinners or vacations, we don’t really need those shoes that are half price and look great on that blogger (that’s my weakness). BUT, it can be a fun way to see what’s on trend, see a long distance friend’s new baby, or be inspired by another’s achievement or triumph. Take it or leave it, do what works for you, but please take your power back and don’t ever give it away to… Read more »


Another mother here- just wanted to say to Mara that taking IG off the menu seems like a compassionate and responsive way to attend to feelings. Take care… <3




@mother – agree, but this comes off as a little harsh. If people want to delete their apps, why not? It’s no different than eliminating junk food from your pantry If you are trying to eat better. Yes look at yourself but why not set yourself up in a way to make better choices.

ugh i feel you!! social media can be so toxic, especially with the high-pressured
society we live in these days. just take it day by day, you got this 🙂 !


Ryann! What a fabulous post!
You shared such positive takes on what can be such difficult things: anxiety and depression, and you were vulnerable in keeping it real.
Thank you. ?
As I was reading, I could ‘feel’ your words and THAT is the reason we all love this blog so, so much.

Nora B



Thank you for sharing. I’ve been thinking about doing this and carving out time for other creative outlets. Might just be what I give up for Lent. On another note, I notice that my teenage daughter, who also suffers from anxiety and depression, falls down this rabbit hole a lot, and I notice how disconnected she becomes from the rest of our family. We try to monitor how much screen time she has, but again teenager, and honestly sometimes I’m wrapped up in my work or making dinner and I’m not the best about regulating.

Monique Wright

Erin you should check out Colin Kartchner! We saw him speak recently about the effects of screen time for teenagers with anxiety and depression (or anyone really) and it was mind blowing! Really relevant to today’s world where everyone is on their phones.


Thank you for writing this. I also use SM to distract/procrastinate when the pressure is on to perform for work. And I have to Insta because finding inspiration and design resources is a big part of my job. It’s an endless loop of needing inspiration for a design project/wasting hours puttering around online thinking about the project instead of actually doing the project. I think all designers can relate to that one.

One thing you really figure out as you get older is that time is the most valuable resource you have, so make sure you spend it doing the things that are fulfilling to you.


I totally agree – It’s about getting social media to serve you. I stopped using Facebook about 3 years ago and I only follow things that make me happy on IG. I rarely post and the only “real” people I follow are my close friends. It works for me and I manage to avoid pretty much all of the toxicity and look at nice pictures of pretty houses and gardens in a way that makes me smile.

Annie K

I’m in similar boat! I get a lot out of IG now, but had to unfollow a lot of accounts to get there. Some I wouldn’t have expected because they’re positive people- like the Queer Eye cast. But it added to a lot of noise that felt like…stress. Now I follow a handful of design accounts and friends scattered across country. Also Amy Schumer (so funny and real) and @thelaminimalist (inspiring and empowering). It’s helpful to “catch up” super quickly because there aren’t actually that many posts everyday. But I still get to see my friends kids and cats and Emily show us her outfit for the day.

Ryann, thank you for this thoughtful post!

This is TOO REAL. I’ve also recently unfollowed some positive TV personalities and you describe it perfectly — it really does feel like stress!!! I’m always worried about what I’ve missed and it gets to be insurmountable when there’s just SO. MANY. ACCOUNTS. to catch up on.

GOOD JOB RYANN. I do not have the willpower to avoid IG for a month!!! You’re an inspiration!!!


Yes, exactly


I still have a FB acct, but spend less than 5 mins/day on it, and I’d like to give up IG, but the reason I haven’t is, as other have said, I feel like I’d be missing out on so much of the design inspo and BTS stories about thought/design-making decisions. So I can’t quit you, IG. One good tip I heard from Jenny Komenda is to always close out your session on a good note…don’t make the last thing you see on IG a rich swimsuit model or annoying platitude quote that leaves you feeling bad about yourself; make it an inspiring photo or a design tip, or any other positive thing you come to IG for in the first place.

That is such a good idea!


What a wonderfully insightful and helpful post! I’ve pared down my own media consumption this past year and it has been very freeing indeed. What was really convicting is where you recommended “liking” others work/posts. I’m so guilty of not doing that, mostly because I care more about the appearance that I’m not on social media, even though I enjoy perusing it every now and then. What a missed opportunity to connect with others and support them! Thanks so much again for sharing your own self-reflecting work Ryann!


Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts. I have done a FB and IG fast. Now I am back, but decided to delete these apps from my phone while keeping them on my iPad, so I still have them, but they are not so constantly available


Such a great idea! I’ve never had the facebook app on my phone (you can still access via safari if needed) and my fb account has since been deactivated entirely. When I did have facebook, I would unfriend people on their birthdays if I didn’t feel like reaching out to say ‘happy birthday’; it sounds harsh but helped with having less to look at with people who I don’t actually interact with in real life! …onto reducing instagram next! Thanks for the tips!

my roommate did this same thing, and it’s really helped her!! much easier to not spend hours and hours on it when it’s not right at your fingertips


SO SO SO GREAT! Thanks for this awesome post Ryann!


I’d like to chime in as a mom and loving friend: if you feel like you can’t get away from IG or FB because of FOMO, think about what you’re missing out on IN REAL LIFE because you’re buried in social media.


Zach Mitchell

I took a 4 month break from all social media last year. Overall, the only platform that I missed was Instagram because, for me, I enjoyed posting as a creative outlet — something that my day job is seriously lacking. When I returned to social media, I made a promise to myself to unfollow any account that triggered negative emotions and it really has made my IG experience better. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s a step that has helped me to manage my feelings a little better.

Roberta Davis

I have also found it helpful to un-follow those who are constantly negative on FB. Especially when it’s a close family member, it’s much better than un-friending! 🙂


I have a little (quite unknown) blog that I write. It’s currently detailing the renovation of our house in Scotland as well as anything else house related that keeps me busy. My reasons for starting it were quite personal, rather than wanting to conquer the social media world but at the beginning I got sucked in by all the suggestions for getting a blog known and checking off all those ‘to do’s’ was really stealing my joy. I made a conscious decision to stop bothering about all the extra connections and now just focus on sharing my creative journey. I like being more mindful about what takes up my time – I think it is a healthy way forward. I’ve also taken the drastic step of getting a phone that doesn’t have the internet – my friends are horrified but I’m loving it!

I’d love to know what your blog is. I’m very into following along with other real people going through renovations on their own, since that’s what I’m in the middle of.


Hi Sara, my blog is We recently decided to ‘up sticks’ and move to the Scottish Highlands from London, so most of the posts have been about fixing up our London house. I’ve just started on our new house. On a good day, I’m excited about the original features I’m discovering but on a bad day, I’m in a state of panic about being back at the beginning. Good luck with your own renovation!



Buy a real alarm clock with a radio!!
So many people use their phones as alarms now, and it means the phone is required to be at your bedside. I’m trying to charge my phone in the kitchen – overnight! – as soon as the dinner dishes are cleaned up. I’m only allowed to scroll if I’m standing with it plugged in. Definitely limits the zombie-phone-time. Then I watch TV, or read a book, or knit, and I’m not even able to check it before or after sleep.
It’s slightly depressing how little this actually affects any communication I thought I was doing with friends or family after 9pm. Um, it was essentially zero. Just my internal justification for zombie scrolls.
This is a new tactic for me, but it feels really nice. Now to detach myself from it during the day…


I read somewhere that Arianna Huffington gives alarm clocks as gifts since she is a huge sleep advocate. Maybe 2020 will be the year of the analog revolt!


What an amazing article!!!!! This was so helpful to me. Wow. I just shared it on all my social media feeds LOL!

Ryann I love you and this post so freaking much!! It’s so great girl<3


I mostly follow people I know IRL, or people who are genuinely inspirational and kind (like Emily!). My hard and fast rule of social is: if I start to DISLIKE someone online who I actually like IRL (or just get annoyed with them), I unfollow their social. No guilt, no looking back. I’d rather judge the real person than have their toxic social color my perception of them. This rule has kept my feed a positive place.

love this!! thanks for sharing, Kiki!


Honestly, I am hardly on social media. Even tho I’m in Silicon Valley and worked on many of the social media platforms, being on it just doesn’t interest me that much. Sometimes I’m on IG, rarely on FB. I have too many other things to do and following influencers (except EH!!) just isn’t my thing.

RYANN YOU ARE A TRUE KILLER QUEEN !!! love this post and you so much! xx


Hi, I am very sorry to hear you suffer from depression and anxiety. I’d love to know more about what in particular about social media is tough for you and what kinds of things were making you feel bad. I am in my upper 30’s, and I really didn’t hop onto the social bandwagon, so I don’t know what goes on. I’m an architect so I follow design blogs and get inspo, but that’s about it. However, when I was a young girl, 14-16 years old, I looked at fashion and teens magazines a lot. I was very depressed and realized it was partly because I was looking at all of these photoshopped women presenting an image of what society says we should be – taller, thinner, tanner, more beautiful, etc. I realized that I couldn’t live my life measuring myself against an ideal that doesn’t actually exist, and the wholly depressing idea that women’s biggest value to society is in their sexual propensity to men. So I stopped looking at all magazines, and pretty soon after started to feel better. However, sometimes I think instead of things getting better for women since then, they may have gotten worse with… Read more »




Great post Ryann! I’ve been thinking of taking a break from social media because I feel like it is definately a time sucker!! I think of the things I could and should be doing like reading or projects around the house. You have inspired me to give it a try. Thank you!

Nancy C.

As much as I love connecting with random people I won’t ever meet, who inspire me (like YOU), I’m painfully aware I just don’t spend much time being with people. Maybe I should visit a different person every day for the next 30 days?


Great post. I feel like we are all in a crossroads with social media right now as it becomes a pretty hot topic in my friend circles. It will be interesting to see what the next few years bring. I personally only use IG and I only follow people I don’t know that inspire me- a select few design and fashion accounts. That way I can do a quick 20 min check every couple days without getting sucked into the rabbit hole. And I don’t follow any of my friends because, honestly, I could care less about seeing pics of their kids first day of preschool(sorry friends!!). I’d rather chat with them about it in person.


Thank you for writing this. I quite social media a year ago and doing so really changed how I go about my whole day now. I was becoming someone I didn’t really like. Every post was so stressful. If I didn’t get the likes I wanted, my whole day would be waisted on trying to think what I needed to change or buy to get more likes the next time. It just got to be to much for me. I’m happy I quite. It honestly took all the stress that I didn’t need in my life anyways.

Liz Toftness

This was so uplifting and motivating. Thank you!

Lynn Edith Crawford

Ryann, thank you for your honest, thoughtful insight into social media and how the negativity can really affect our psyche. I have often wanted to just check out of social media because of the mean comments. They make me sad and angry. I love kindness and stay on social media because of the people that do care and share their generous nature. I admire your honest introspective and ability to speak and live your truth. Lynn Crawford

Marble Dining Set

This is really awesome, i just love it, very helpful and inspiring post. I definitely follow this. Thanks for the share dear.

Karen @ a house full of sunshine

I love everything about this post.

For one, I’ve struggled with social media addiction, so I have to be extremely mindful about how I use it. Can’t just switch it off totally (because I too run a blog) and that is the unfortunate catch. It’s like an alcoholic trying to only take small sips, every now and then. ?Doable, but incredibly difficult. I use good blockers to compensate for my lack of self control. Also other measures like no phones in the bedroom (I charge it in the kitchen overnight).

What I love most though is your transparency about mental health. I am internally standing up and applauding your honesty. When people like you in very public platforms can simply say “I have depression and anxiety… and this is how I’m dealing with it” it becomes more normalised. People feel less alone. SO many people have this struggle. (My hand is up – and YES, social media can be a HUUUGE trigger.)

So thank you, Ryann!! For your honesty and also for some GREAT tips! xo


I love reading blogs, am a counselor/ designer / stager and get in the “ they are so much better than I am “ mindscape at time. Hate that part for sure. Mostly get inspired and love the human part. People who share they story, their issues, their struggles because it is real. I crave real! Real design, real life, not sweaters that are $500 or sofas that are $5,000 because I can not afford either. That can make me feel bad and maybe I will look at my follows there and will share more likes!!!! Thanks for sharing and for the suggestions,


This was excellent & so well-written.


WOW, WOW, WOW + HMMMM….. This might be one of the most insightful things I’ve read in months (and ridiculously well written – I can see why your an editor). I re-read it immediately and sit here trying to articulate an equally great comment/response, but alas, I’m not a gifted editor 🙂 Before reading this, I didn’t even realize that I probably need a break from social media – now I realize it’s probably imperative. I love how you say it “perpetuates a facade of authenticity that leads to unrealistic comparisons and severe loneliness” because that sort of nails it right there. I also deal with depression and anxiety and couldn’t agree more. Sometimes after scrolling mindlessly, I find myself asking – are these people actually “real”? How do they crank out non-stop awesomeness 24/7 all while having the most precious, perfect, gorgeous life while I’m over here struggling on a daily basis to figure out how to create IG content, update my outdated website, and actually do some work that people will pay me to do ?and some days I do feel completely inadequate, like I’m NEVER going to get anywhere, does anyone even read my stupid IG content,… Read more »

Laura Gall

Thank you so much for an honest and heart-felt post! I couldn’t agree more with you and being in the design industry, it’s so easy to get caught up in all of it. IG, and other social platforms, are powerful tools for promoting your business yet it can be frustrating as well because it actually takes a TON of work to take the right photos, say something engaging and then tag it appropriately so it has the largest reach! Between the actual design work, balancing a very active family life and taking care of yourself, it can be exhausting to take a ton of time to promote your work and then have minimal reach! Sometimes for me, that is what becomes depressing. I agree with you…if you’re reading something and love it, or even just like it, take the time to let them know and say something if it inspires you. Thank YOU for inspiring so many of us and reminding us to listen to our inner voice and to follow our heart. Best, Laura/Owner of Spaces by LLG. @spacesbyllg


? I’ve never commented on this blog before, but reading your post made me think about hoarding those “engagements.” I’m a content producer as well, and it’s difficult when you publish something without a feedback loop. Did people enjoy this? Are these real web visits or bots? Great post and I’m going to incorporate a more mindful social media approach in my life.

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