The connection behind social media and mental health involves a complex interplay of psychological, social and biological factors.
While social media platforms provide numerous benefits, such as increased connectivity and information sharing, they also have potential negative effects on mental well-being. Here are a few things to consider:
Social Comparison: social media often promotes upward social comparison, where we compare ourselves to others who appear more successful or happier. This almost always leads to feelings of inadequacy, low self esteem, and depression.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): constant exposure to others’ posts and activities can trigger FOMO, anxiety, and a fear of being left out, leading to stress and dissatisfaction with one’s own life.
Cyberbullying: This can result in increased anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts among victims.
Lack of Validation and Self Worth: The number of likes, comments, and followers on social media can become a measure of self-worth. Lack of validation can negatively impact self-esteem and mental health.
Distorted Reality: social media can create an idealized and curated version of people’s lives, creating a distorted reality. This can contribute to feelings of inadequacy and depression when comparing one’s own life to these filtered representations.
Sleep disruptions: Excessive social media use, especially before bed, can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue, mood disturbances, and decreased overall-being.
Social isolation: Paradoxically, prolonged social media use can lead to social isolation and reduced face-to-face interactions, which are crucial for mental health and well-being.
Dopamine and Addiction: social media platforms are designed to trigger dopamine release, leading to addictive behaviors and a constant need for social validation, which can negatively impact mental health.
So how do you best avoid all of this happening leading to mild or severe mental health illness?
Set boundaries: establish specific time limits for social media use and/or designate tech-free zones or times in your daily routine (i.e.: no screens in the bedroom, no screens on Sundays, etc.)
Unfollow negativity: unfollow accounts that trigger negative emotions and surround yourself with positive and inspiring content.
Engage mindfully: be aware of your emotional and mental state while using social media. Avoid mindless scrolling and engage purposefully with meaningful content.
Prioritize Real-Life Connections: Invest time in face-to-face interactions, fostering genuine relationships and building a support network outside of social media.
Practice Self-Care: do things that promote mental and physical well-being, such as exercise, hobbies, reading, or spending time in nature, reducing the need for social media as an escape.
Turn off notifications: disable unnecessary notifications to minimize distractions and regain control over your attention.
Take breaks: periodically take social media breaks, ranging from a few hours to days or even weeks, to recharge, gain perspective, and reduce reliance on virtual interactions.
Seek support: if social media greatly impacts your mental health, consider seeking professional help or support groups that specialize in internet addition or digital well-being.
Was this post helpful? Do you find social media to be a fulfilling or challenging activity for you to engage in?
Do you experience any of the above downsides of social media? Are you planning to incorporate one of the ways to reduce social media exposure?
Tell me in the comment below!