You wake up, scroll through instagram and see friends having a great time, then a few minutes later, you head over to Facebook and see your new coworker got a new job promotion (congrats to them!) However, how is all this scrolling through various social media platforms affecting your mental health?
According to recent research, 72% of Americans are using social media. That is a vast number, and the number only seems to be growing. With so many various platforms it’s easy to get caught up for a few hours every day, sometimes even multiple times a day. With social media being such a popular thing, over the years it has gained popularity for many different reasons.
So why do we use social media?
- As a way to stay connected with friends and family
- Keep up with the latest news
- To keep us entertained
- For work
These days more than ever, social media is just hard to escape.
However, as amazing and convenient as social media is, it has been shown to take a toll on your mental health.
Social media is linked to: Anxiety, Depression, and Loneliness
More time spent on social media can mean a greater impact on your health.
Links to Anxiety
Social media can create this idea of “perfectionism”. You may have heard the phrase “instagram vs. reality,” which highlights this idea of what you see isn’t always real. However, oftentimes we find ourselves in comparison to others whether it’s the way someone looks or the life they choose to portray which can ultimately lead to increased anxiety.
Link to Loneliness
Ever heard of FOMO, or fear of missing out? This can happen when you are scrolling through some social media posts and maybe you see friends out having a good time, but you are sitting at home. This can lead to fear that you are missing out on something and can ultimately lead to feelings of loneliness.
Links to Depression
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects more than 264 million people globally. Research has found that increased time spent on Facebook was linked to a negative mood. Additionally, those with more social media connections or “superficial acquaintances” leads to changes in self-esteem, and feelings of envy, which all contribute to an increasingly depressive mood.
So, What Are Some Signs of Depression?
How much time is too much time spent on social media?
Whatever the reason you are using social media, there is a time when it’s a good idea to call it quits for the day. Some signs to look for when social media may be affecting your mental health are when…
- You are spending endless hours scrolling through social media.
- You cancel plans, and end up using social media.
- Social media distracts you from doing other things like work, school, or takes you away from family, and friends.
- You use social media as an “escape.”
- You experience feelings of sadness when you are using social media.
- You encounter online bullying.
How & When To Disconnect
Trust me, I get it, there are so many social media platforms from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, it can be hard to step away. Maybe you spend time catching up on the local news, you’re using social media to get your work done, or just want to catch up with some old friends. While there is nothing wrong with social media, it may be time for a BREAK!
If you are using social media for work:
- Use social media during your working hours and don’t get back on until the evening or the next day.
- Make working social media hours less stressful by taking mini breaks by checking emails, or working on other projects.
- Stay in communication with your employer about how using media makes you feel and see if you can find a solution that works.
How to Find Balance
Find balance in social media and real life experiences.
- Put your phone away when you’re out with friends/family
- Busy with friends? Leave your phone in your bag or in the car.
- Keep your phone out of bedroom
- Set a social media “clock”
- Go online during certain hours of the day
- Use social media between certain hours ie. lunch break, or before heading into work
- Practice mindfulness ( check out B.Komplete’s Mindfulness to Improve Your Happiness and Well-Being blog post on ways to engage in mindfulness)
- Meditate before logging on
- Engage in deep breathing exercises
- Have a positive mindset before using social media
- Feeling anxious, or upset? -Don’t log on
- Put your notifications on silent
- Select which notifications you want to receive and one’s you don’t
- Shut off comments/likes
- Engage in real life activities ( ie. jogging, yoga, hiking) that can keep you off of social media
- Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad
Social media is a great tool when it comes to connecting with friends, family, for entertainment, or for work purposes. However when social media affects our mental health, it’s time to take a step away from the online world and disconnect for a bit. As social media has been linked to anxiety, depression, and loneliness, it is a great time to figure out how social media is affecting you. Put some extra time into real life activities and experiences and you may just see a difference in your mood.