Ever since it appeared, social media has quickly become an integral part of our lives, it influences our culture, lifestyle, thoughts, and how we feel. Social media connects us to the world faster than ever, and takes up much of our time. Social media has both positive and negative aspects, and the more time we spend there, the more important it is to consider how this virtual world fundamentally changes ourselves and how much influence it has on us.
Are you in a toxic relationship with social media? Or do you know how to set healthy limits? On which platforms do you spend the most time? Which of them do you avoid? How much time do you spend on social media in one day? Do social media influence your feelings? Are you counting on social media when you take decisions?
This are some questions that you should address to ourselves from time to time, to be able to monitor the effects of social media on our mental health and well-being, and to be able to help us make the best decisions about its role in our lives, or even set boundaries with social media for a better mental wellbeing.
We as human beings are social beings who feel the need for belonging and socialization. We need connection with those around us and this happens physically, mentally and emotionally. Thus, an advantage of social media is that it can relieve stress, anxiety and sadness. However, it can also cause emotional problems and worsen our mental health.
The impact on mental health
Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which people understand their needs and emotions. Social media is a crucial element in protecting our mental health and well-being. Therefore, these social networks have both negative and positive effects on our emotions. They can help us communicate with family and friends around the world, find people and circuits with those interests that are ours (or with the same issues that can be discussed), can offer emotional support in difficult times, can bring self-esteem self, can bring emotional joy. However, social media can also be detrimental to mental well-being, as people can be easily manipulated and influenced. What these social networks show us is not always true and can illustrate a perfect life, which certainly does not exist. The image of a perfect relationship, or a perfect body, or a perfect life, makes us feel inferior, demoralized, frustrated, without realizing that this is what social media is trying to show us, without being completely real. For example, photo filters and editing applications express the concrete example that our perception of beauty is influenced and that social networks distort the image we have of reality, while making us feel frustrated, maybe even angry. Moreover, it makes us doubt ourselves and ask questions about our physical appearance, and makes us feel that we cannot keep up with the illusions that social media creates.
Another good example is the illusion of a perfect life. It happened to me too, did it happen to you? Scrolling on social networks, I notice people or even celebrities who claim to have the perfect life, a relationship like in a fairy tale, a fulfilling career, houses, clothes and all kinds of goods that I can't even dream of. A perfect body, a shiny face, perfect hair, all these posts made me feel frustrated, angry and lower my self-esteem. I thought that I was inferior, that I had nothing special, that I would never be able to have a dream life, I felt that the relationship with my fiancé is a failure, compared to other perfect relationships we see in the online environment. I was constantly comparing myself with the others. I felt like a failure myself, and it affected my mental state. Until I had the opportunity to talk to someone from the online environment, who admitted to me that not everything is as it seems, that social media is half truth and half lie. No one has a life like in fairy tales, almost everything we see there, is what people really want, not what they have. Even if they may have expensive cars and designer clothes, they have other issues, such as problems in their personal or career life or health problems. That's when I realized I had to try to impose some barriers. So, whenever I used these sites and started to feel inferior, I would turn off the phone and put it aside, and I was trying to do a physical activity that would make me feel better and get rid of those negative emotions. It is very important to realise the role of these social media in our lives, and not to let them take over our minds and souls.
Moreover, some people may experience cyberbulling, or symptoms of sadness and depression, or may find it difficult to create face-to-face relationships, deprioritization of self-care, may want to post something just to make them jealous celebrities, or just to gather as many likes as possible. All these are negative effects that social media can have on our physical and mental health. If you find yourself in these written lines, you may want to try to create certain barriers with social media, in order to improve your mental health. Here are some tips:
- Find an activity you like, and practice it for at least 30 minutes every day
- Spend more time outside with friends, not online
- Read a book (I know it seems from the past, but there are many absolutely magnificent books that can help you keep your positivity and clear your mind)
- Choose a team sport
- Invest in a passion that has nothing to do with the online environment
- Cook something you like