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Is Social Media Ruining our Mental Health?

Although many of us love using social media to keep connected, excessive usage can lead to feelings of addiction, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and FOMO. Here's how you can change your routines and boost your mood.

Social Media ruining Mental Health

During the last decade, the emergence of social media has created new channels for human contact. Many of us now rely on social media sites like TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to locate and communicate with one another. While each has its advantages, it is crucial to remember that social media can never replace face-to-face human interaction. In-person contact activates hormones that reduce stress and gives positive feeling, spending an excessive amount of time on social media may make you feel more isolated and lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

"Addiction to social media is around 5% of young people, and was recently described as potentially more addictive than alcohol and cigarettes."

Social media is not always bad

TikTok is a short video platform, which has 500 million users and is being used to give mental health advice, such as tips on how to help with mental health, people sharing their experiences and reassurance that people are not alone. It is reducing the stigma around mental health, raising awareness and bring clarity to what they look like. However, this is not to say that TikTok is a form of ‘therapy’ and do be careful about who you take advice from as incorrect information could do more damage.

Another advantage of social media is the ability to interact and remain in touch with friends and family all over the world, as well as meet new people and groups with similar interests. This can lead to face-to-face interaction which will benefit you in the long run. People also use social media as an outlet for creativity, starting and promoting new businesses and self-expression.

The toll social media is taking on your mental health

We are all victims of comparison, poor self-esteem, and low self-worth because of apps like TikTok and Instagram where we are endlessly scrolling through a catalogue of seemingly perfect strangers. We almost believe what people look like on social media is what they always walk around looking like. People selectively choose what they post, take hundreds of retakes and how post they want to be seen. When you see people on social media looking this ‘perfect’ way it plays on your own insecurities that you are not like that 24/7.

How is it fair on your body and mind to judge yourself and all your normal imperfections that you see in your real life to a perfected version, a version of a person that you’ve never seen in real life? Just let that sink in. It isn’t fair. We shouldn’t be cruel to our body’s and our minds, we need to nurture them, be grateful for everything they do for us. It is natural for ourselves to compare, but we need to be aware.

Not only with body image but watching others who are extremely wealthy on luxurious holidays, developing great businesses, or obtaining a new promotion at work may make you feel uneasy about your own life, and you may begin to overlook your own triumphs. Remember that individuals only share the highlights of their lives when they are at their greatest. We all know that life isn't all sunshine and rainbows, and those people have their own difficulties, but it's challenging to imagine this when all they're posing is their happiest days. This might heighten feelings of loneliness and lead to you distancing yourself from visiting friends and venturing out, as well as making you less motivated to put yourself out there.

Social media can increase anxiety due to ‘Fear of Missing Out’ aka FOMO. We are always wondering what people are doing, who are they with, where they are and if you have been invited or not. Because humans are social beings who want group involvement, perceived exclusion can have negative psychological consequences. FOMO will cause you to constantly check social media; while there are certain things that do not require immediate attention, the fear of missing out can lead you to believe differently.

Ways to improve your mental health

  • Limit your time on social media – You do not need to cut back drastically on social media usage to improve your mental health; but cutting it down when it is not needed is a first step in the right direction. I have started turning my notifications off on certain apps which limits the need to check as there is not a constant pinging and have seen a massive difference in my screen-time. There is now a feature on iPhone which locks your apps after a certain amount of time to reduce screen time. Put your phone away at certain times of the day like when you are working, when you are with friends and just before bed. Limiting your social media time will encourage you to spend time with family and offline friends, reconnect with neglected friends you haven’t seen in a while, this will decrease the feeling of loneliness and improve your overall wellbeing.

  • Focus on who you are following – does their content make you feel great? You have the power to shape your feed. About a year ago I unfollowed the models as they were not making me feel good in myself especially when I was struggling mentally. Now I just have cute animals on my feed!

  • Write down your feelings – Journaling is something I have incorporated into my every day routine, and I feel it has massively benefitted my mental health. Journaling is different for everyone and there is no right way to do it. You can share the way you are feeling, your mindsets, gratitude and see how it changes overtime. You learn to overcome internal pressures, regulate your feelings and how striving to feel emotions is more important than seeking constant happiness.

There are more ways to boost your mental health listed in ‘Your Mental Health improvement won’t come overnight!’ on Mindless Mag. Whilst the things above can improve your mental health, if you feel like you are struggling or need someone to talk to, I strongly encourage reaching out to a therapist as it had a huge positive impact on my mental health. There are also many helplines you can call if you need someone to talk to on the Mind website, a mental health organisation.


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