How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health

Social Media is one of the greatest innovations of our time. It has many benefits, like teaching social skills, strengthening relationships, allowing you to meet new people, and keeping up with all the world news right at your fingertips. Unfortunately, this comes with some downsides, and there are quite a few of them.

The Downside of Social Media

On average, we spend up to 2 hours a day searching through social media, and that number is higher for teens and young adults. All of us have activities we engage in to relax, connect, and stay current. But quite often, time on social media becomes the opposite.

Social media has the power to exclude you from your real-world life. With just a scroll, swipe, or click, it transports you to instant news and updates on what other people are doing.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing unless the excessive time spent here keeps you from living the life you want to live.

If social media becomes a replacement for living because it seems better than real life, then you may need to question, “what am I getting out of this? Is the amount of social media or how I’m using it good for me?”

It seems to be a dichotomy that social media have been shown to lead to depression and anxiety in some. At the same time, social media can also boost self-esteem and promote happiness in others. But in actuality, these aren’t opposites. They both have the same cause, believing that how people are seen on social media demonstrates their worth (or yours).

When people like your social media persona, you feel happy. When it seems like everyone else is getting all of the positive attention, you may feel sad.

Social media IS real life to us. It allows us to convey a certain image of ourselves through the screen as we interact with the glorified and polished versions of what others may be doing and how they, too, want us to see them.

But while the happiness around being liked on social media feels good, those moments are fleeting. So it more often leads to a feeling of inadequacy in your own life.

Social Media is Addictive

No question about it- social media is one of the most addictive things in the world right now.

When you have a positive experience on social media, your brain produces dopamine, a feel-good hormone the brain releases to reward us for “good” behavior.

Humans like rewards, so they seek out activities that produce dopamine without realizing it. But people become desensitized. So you may need more social media attention to feel the same happy feelings and things that don’t constantly stimulate dopamine to seem boring. That can lead to more general dissatisfaction with real life.

You can find balance in social media usage and start reclaiming your happiness. We have some tips.

Tips to Overcome the Negative Effects of Social Media

  1. Set a limit on social media- Spend 30 minutes a day on social media to avoid overconsumption of using those apps.
  2. Give yourself time to adjust – If you’re addicted to social media, this may feel agonizing at first. But it gets better. Your body and mind begin to reset when social media is used in moderation.
  3. Do something else – Instead of focusing on what you’re not going to do (get on social media), focus on something else to keep your mind busy elsewhere. What you focus on gets stronger, so doing something else reduces the compulsion.
  4. Be aware of how social media affects your mood – Social media can put unrealistic expectations on life. It glorifies people, places, and things that aren’t completely honest. It sets big expectations for what a good life is “supposed to look like.” This is always a distorted image. For example, think about body image. Photos can be edited or filtered to result in the best possible look, which can make the rest of us less content because our bodies don’t look like that.
  5. Choose your social media experience – Filter what you look at on social media platforms. If news and other posts negatively influence your mental health, stop looking at their content because it isn’t healthy. There is a lot of negativity in these apps, but filtering what you follow can completely change the overall feeling of your feed and how you feel looking at it. On Facebook, you can also choose to “snooze” certain people you don’t want to unfriend completely but need to see less from because of negativity.
  6. Avoid comment sections- This is a big topic because it is how people are reacting to these posts. There are some ugly people out there on the internet whose words can and will bring your mood down. Many like to feel in control of others’ actions and feelings, so they try to get you to respond to them. When you recognize this for what it is, you can take back your own emotions.
  7. Remember, social media isn’t real- Social media is just a glorified version of real life for most people to show how great their “life” may sometimes be.

In reality, their life may not be all that great, and it’s just like the rest of us who do not have perfect lives. The sooner you can believe that fact, the happier you will be on social media.

Social Media and Mental Health

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by social media and need someone to talk to, we listen. You are heard here. Contact us.

 

Jonas Hill Hospital & Clinic, a division of Caldwell Memorial Hospital provides our community with safe, dignified and integrated care for adult patients experiencing an acute mental health need. We provide hope, treatment, and healing through a holistic program of evidence-based psychiatric treatment, team-based medical care, and education provided by engaging and dedicated professionals in a safe and healing environment. Contact us today for more information. A safe space to heal.

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