How to stop your likes affecting your mood

Heart eyes emoji with instagram likes, crying face emoji with facebook dislikes

We’ve all been there; one minute everything seems to be ticking along as normal, and the next minute you’ve plummeted into gloom and irritability because you checked your socials and your posts aren’t getting as many likes or as much engagement as you’d hoped. The lower numbers make you feel ineffective, and as though your content isn’t as good as you thought it was, so then you feel dumb, too. Such fun!

It’s really difficult to not let your likes or traffic affect your mood, particularly when you’re so passionate about what you do and are basically hooked up to your analytics 24/7; a low traffic day can mean a bad mood day, and a big spike can mean you’re ecstatically giddy. 

It’s great to care about what you do and to be striving to be better at it, but caring so much about your stats makes it so easy to feel bad about yourself. Algorithms and audience priorities are changing all the damn time, and it’s natural for some of your posts to do better or worse than others. It happens to everyone, even the Jenner-types.

Social media is designed to be addictive, and our brains are actually wired to release ‘feel good hormones’ (dopamine and serotonin) when we see that we have a ‘like’ or extra clicks. These are the same hormones that are released when we eat our favourite food or come into some money – and you know getting some cash to spend on chocolate feels so damn good. Social media has designed itself to recreate this feeling in our brains when we see likes on our content. Because this hormone release feels so great, we’re programmed to seek it out again and again. The more we get, the more we want. It’s natural – don’t blame yourself for being a stats obsessive. As humans, we need attention and recognition that we exist(!) and likes and comments help us to verify that.

As people who live and work on the internet, it’s crucial that we have offline habits that make us feel good, too. When you put everything into your digital work, it’s easy to forget everything else until you realise that you only really have your digital work in your life, and not much else that excites you. 

To be able to give yourself quality time away from your work that you can spend with loved ones, outside, on a horse – whatever does it for you – you’ll need to work smarter, not harder. 

Assign yourself working hours, and stick to them. 

This is hard because we have our phones in our pockets all the time and can easily check in on a post or campaign while we’re in queues or on loos. This is all about self discipline.

InChief spoke to Helen Campbell, a career coach for people who work in creative industries and online (Coaching By Helen Ltd.), who gave us some tips for organising your working hours in a way that’s easier to stick to.

Some techniques which help Helen’s clients include;

  1. Having an automated email reply which includes working hours in it. Letting emailers know that you work on these days and during these hours, which is when they can expect a reply.
  2. Using tech that literally locks your social media when you don’t wish to use it.
  3. Tracking your time and only working the agreed hours or near enough, unless there is a crisis, can create a strong basis for separating yourself from the work. If you always operate at crisis level then where do you take it if there is actually a crisis!? Leave some wriggle room.
  4. Pre-planning, batch creating social content, and, where appropriate, using automated scheduling software.
  5. If you work alone, consider looking into Virtual Assistants who can help and support you.
  6. Enjoy it! Remember why you wanted to do this in the first place and bring in a sense of joy around your social media work and creative ideas, embracing failure as well as celebrating your wins.

“Exploring failure can also help,” says Helen. “If you create content which doesn’t produce the desired outcome, this can be a chance to learn, grow and develop. Rather than burying it under the proverbial rug, explore what happened, the decisions you made and what you learned. If you would like to make any changes as a result of that learning, try to set yourself some goals around that and choose a way of rewarding yourself for making those positive changes.

“Lastly, find opportunities to notice when it does go really well. Enter awards, request testimonials from clients you’ve worked with, and keep a folder of positive feedback to open up if you experience a down day.”

This last point from Helen is so important. We all remember our failures and negative experiences much more sharply than we ever remember our praise or positive experiences. Collecting your positive feedback somewhere you can easily refer to if you’re feeling a bit low (or if you need to be inspired for new post ideas) is a great idea. 

Talk to yourself as if you were talking to a friend that you care about; if their posts bombed and they were feeling bad about it, would you tell them “Yeah you’re right to feel bad, this is probably the end of your career and I don’t see how you’re ever going to recover from this…”? No! You’d tell them not to worry, remind them that the internet is a fickle mistress, and that they have real-life people who like them and love them, which are so much more important than a red heart on the internet. 

Kate Lucey is the author of ‘Get A Grip, Love’ a funny (ish) look at depression and how to live with it. Order your copy here.

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