Social media has become an fundamental part of many people’s lives in today’s society. People use it to stay connected with friends and family, learn about current events, trends, and entertain ourselves. What many do not see is how social media can also have a negative impact on one’s mental health.
Here are some of the ways that social media can affect our mental health:
Anxiety, Depression & Social Comparison
Social media can lead to anxiety and depression by making us feel like we are not good enough. We may see other people’s carefully curated posts and compare ourselves to them, leading to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Many people will also look at other’s lives and feel anxious and depressed because they are not living the lives that others claim to be living. No one knows the struggle of any one person—and a lot of the claims of people “living their best lives” are giving a false picture of how life really is for them. Everyone has ups and downs and it unrealistic to be happy or positive all of the time. It leads to unrealistic expectations of life and if one falls short of what they see on social media, it can have drastic outcomes for those who suffer from depression and anxiety already. When we are constantly bombarded with images of people who seem to have perfect lives, it can be difficult not to feel bad about ourselves.
Social media can be a breeding ground for cyberbullying. People think that because they are behind a screen that they can talk however they want to whoever they want without any repercussions. The repercussions are as real as if it was face to face—it causes self-esteems to plummet and can increase the risk of suicide when a person has just had more than they can take. There are many empathetic people; however, those that cyberbully just do not realize the impact their words have on others and some even take pride in “trolling”. Some even get pleasure in causing others pain and discomfort. While this is not the status quo, it makes life difficult for those who are on the other end of the cyberbullying.
Sleep Disruption & Addiction
Social media can disrupt our sleep and lead to addiction. The blue light emitted from our screens can interfere with our sleep patterns, and the constant notifications can make it difficult to switch off. Some experts say that a person should not be on their devices at least 1 hour prior to bedtime to help aid in the process of getting adequate sleep. Many people just cannot unplug, which is why phone addiction is on the rise.
Loneliness & Isolation
Even though social media is supposed to connect us with others, it can actually make us feel lonelier and more isolated. This is because we often interact with people on social media in a superficial way, and we may not be getting the real-life social interaction that we need. There is just something about face to face interaction that a lot of people just require and only meeting and talking to people online can be extremely lonely, creating significant feelings of distress and isolation.
If you are concerned about the impact of social media on your mental health, here are some tips for using it in a healthier way:
- Limit your time on social media: Set a timer for yourself and stick to it. Try to avoid checking social media first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
- Be mindful of what you consume: Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. Focus on accounts that post positive and uplifting content.
- Connect with people in real life: Make time for in-person activities with your friends and family. Social media is no substitute for real-life relationships.
- Take breaks from social media: If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed by social media, take a break from it for a few days or weeks.
If you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to seek professional help. The therapists at Clarity Family Therapy Services can help you understand and manage the impact of social media on your mental health.
Here are some additional tips for using social media in a healthy way:
- Be aware of your own triggers and avoid social media posts that make you feel anxious, depressed, or angry.
- Use social media to connect with people who share your interests and values.
- Use social media to learn new topics that will expand your horizons.
- Take breaks from social media to focus on your real-life relationships and activities.
Remember, social media is a tool. It is up to us how to use it that is beneficial to our mental health.