Billions of people around the world use social media platforms. They have quickly grown into a popular trend since they can easily capture our attention, keep us connected with friends and family, and help us discover new passions and interests.
Yet, there are numerous challenges, too. Some of the negative aspects include body shaming and the promotion of unhealthy lifestyles.
As we enjoy the digital age, it’s important to be aware of the psychological consequences of social media and how we can turn it into a positive experience.
How Does Social Media Affect Mental Health?
You perhaps already know that social connections are important for our mental well-being. We need friends and family to thrive, lower our stress, anxiety, and prevent loneliness.
Social connections also help us feel more confident and happier, while the lack of strong connections with others can take a toll on our health.
Social media and mental health are tightly interconnected. Nowadays, socially connecting with others is no longer bound by our physical location. We can log into our Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat account and catch up with our friends, be a part of their daily experiences, and have hours-long conversations with them.
Yet, it’s important to understand that social media should not be a replacement for real-world meetings with our favorite humans.
Despite the comfort brought by social media, there are some negative aspects. This technology was designed to help us feel closer to our loved ones. However, spending too much time on social media can have adverse effects, making us feel isolated and lonely. In turn, this can make our stress, anxiety, and depression worsen.
If you spend too much time on social media, you may feel sad, frustrated, or lonely. This could be the perfect time to re-examine your habits and start creating new ones.
It is important to find a balance between the time we spend online and the time we spend in the real world with our dear ones. If you experience such feelings, it’s important to implement strategies to improve your mental health. And therapy with a professional that can help you find a healthy balance.
Positive Effects of Social Media
Fortunately, this technology can bring us lots of benefits when we find the right balance. Some of these include:
- Feel closer to friends and family despite physical distance.
- Connecting with like-minded people. This is extremely important in the case of minorities that may face social stigma and loneliness.
- Youth use social media to communicate as it is easier than face-to-face conversations. This makes it easy to identify troubled young people and help them with their issues.
- Social media channels are often a source of education on a wide range of matters, including mental health and well-being.
The Negative Effects of Social Media
To have a healthy lifestyle, moderation is always encouraged. This is also true in the case of social media usage patterns.
Although research is still in its infancy, social media can lead to negative experiences. Some of these are discussed below.
Even if we know that online photos are easily manipulated using editing software and filters, they can still make us feel insecure about our body image or our life. This is highlighted as people always tend to share only the positive aspects of their life, even though we all know that everyone experiences low points.
In turn, this can exacerbate our self-esteem issues, making us feel like “we are not enough”, creating a chain of dissatisfaction.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is not a new phenomenon. It refers to the specific feeling of realizing that others have more fun than we do or we are missing out on life milestones.
For instance, friends sharing their work promotion news or posting photos of them on a tropical beach could make us feel disappointed in ourselves.
Social media can make us compulsively check our phones all the time, even if this impacts us negatively, such as:
- Scrolling social media pages until late at night
- Texting while we meet our friends in real life
- Or even taking life-threatening risks, such as checking a new text message while driving.
Excessive use of social media can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. As we watch the moments shared by our loved ones, we can feel far away from them. Also, the lack of real-world connection leads to fewer memories shared with our friends and family.
As a result, some people may feel less isolated if they reduce social media usage and explore more of the real world.
This is because human beings require face-to-face contact to be healthy. The more you opt for social media instead of face-to-face contacts, the more you risk suffering from anxiety and depression symptoms.
Although mostly teens report bullying on social media, many users deal with offensive comments. Also, social media platforms facilitate the spread of lies, rumors, and abuse that can hurt your feelings, leaving emotional scars.
Signs That Social Media Impacts Your Mental Health
If you are unsure of the impact social media has on your mental health, here are some signs you could identify:
- Spending more time on social media than your real-life interactions;
- Distracted by social media when at work or school;
- Spending all your free time on social media and little or no time on self-care;
- Mood or anxiety disorders are getting work;
- You have trouble sleeping.
How to Use Social Media to Benefit Your Mental Health: 6 Tips
The key to boosting your mental health is to have a balanced lifestyle, so you need to moderately use social media if you want to boost your well-being.
Here are some strategies you can implement to boost your well-being and mental health:
- Gradually reduce social media usage each day. You can use a time-tracking app to see how much you spend now on social media, then reduce that by 20-30 minutes each day until you are comfortable.
- When doing certain activities, turn off your smartphone. This could include driving, working, spending time with your family or friends.
- Disable your social media notifications to have fewer distractions.
- Focus on what you have — such as spending more time with your friends and family.
- Use your free time to show yourself kindness and love: reflect, keep a journal,or practice yoga.
- Encourage other people in your life to decrease unhealthy social media use, take up new hobbies, and pursue your offline interests.
Mental health and social media are tightly connected. It depends on how we use it and how much time we spend on social platforms. It can be an excellent way of connecting with others, joining communities that share our interests, and obtaining information.
However, excessive social media usage can make us feel worse or miss important real-life moments with our loved ones. Use the above tips to enjoy social media and benefit your mental health.
If you experience symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, have self-esteem issues, or struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness, consider taking professional help. Talking to a licensed therapist on Calmerry can help you cope and feel better.
Article Submitted By Community Writer