Living in a Social Media World
“Wait don’t eat yet, I need to take a picture for Instagram.” How many times have you or your friends uttered this phrase out loud? The impact of social media on shaping our thinking and behaviors can’t be discounted. As applications such as Instagram and Facebook provide individuals the ability to post or live stream about their day to day lives, much research has been done highlighting the adverse effect of social on mental health. Particularly, the tendency to engage in social comparison over media platforms is correlated to increased depression and anxiety and decreased positive self-view. This is to not discount the positive impact of social media, which has arguably provided individuals social support and connectedness.
The following are some tips to promote optimal mental health and strike a balance with your social media usage.
- Ensure that you set limits on how long you spend on your social media platforms. Research demonstrates that decreasing the time you spend on social media can lead to feeling less lonely. Part of the social comparison that occurs is looking at other’s lives and concluding their life is better or more interesting. However, what we fail to acknowledge is that individuals are posting the positive, glamorous parts of their lives. Instead, decrease your time spent perusing on social media and focus on nurturing your relationships and interests. Make a point to put your phone away during meals with friends and family. Additionally, try to curb the initial urge to check your social media upon waking up. Instead, incorporate a mindfulness exercise.
- Develop a self-care plan and goals. Keep your goals in mind and set time aside to focus on yourself. Similarly, track how you’re feeling when checking social media platforms. Do certain accounts make you feel more stressed or anxious? Manage the accounts you follow and and/or disable push notifications.
- Ask for help when you need it! If you notice that decreasing your social media usage or deleting your accounts are not assisting with improving your mood or self-esteem, consider reaching out for support. Therapy would be a useful tool in exploring your concerns, as are friends or family.