Staying in touch with people is generally a good thing for our mental health and well-being but when the relationship or perceived relationship with others is only virtual and seemingly one way, the connection to others could negatively impact your mental health.
How does social media scrolling affect your health?
How can something that seems so harmless cause such problems? Many of us love to scroll through social media. The various platforms have enabled us to reach out to childhood friends and stay in touch with people from other provinces or countries. Social media has also enabled us to stay in the immediate knowledge of what is happening in everyone’s lives.
Our friends, family and connections allow us to share the joy in a person’s accomplishments and express sadness for their life situation. We express excitement and gratitude and even comment on the success of a well-made dinner. So how can this be problematic?
It becomes a problem when you are no longer engaging with your social media friends, sitting on the sidelines sort of speak and watching their lives unfold rather than engaging and creating connections with your own life.
It becomes a problem when you start to focus on the inadequacies of your appearance. Even though, on some level, you know the images you are viewing on social media may be manipulated, they can still make you feel insecure about your own appearance.
It becomes a problem when you start to compare the lives of other people to your own, even though we are aware that people tend to share only tidbits of their lives and rarely share the low points of their days or the daily hardships they face with life, work, family etc. Multiple studies now show that high usage of Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat increases feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
Even though we inherently know this, it does not lessen feelings of envy or dissatisfaction with our present lives. Social media feeds can make us feel that other people have full, rich lives that we are missing out on. There is even an acronym to describe the feeling called “FOMO” (fear of missing out). The idea of missing out on things can trigger anxiety and can compel you to check your media feed more often for updates or compulsively respond to each and every alert.
Posting every aspect of your life on your social feeds can cause you to become more self-absorbed. Sharing endless selfies and your innermost thoughts about every subject can create unhealthy self-centeredness and further distance you from real-life in-person relationships.
Did you know that when you receive a like or share, or a favourable comment to something that you post that it can trigger a momentarily boost of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain? The boost is only temporary but enough to leave you wanting more. And subsequently, when you receive a negative reaction or no reaction to your post, it can leave you feeling let down, disappointed or angry.
Signs you are overusing social media.
- When you are feeling lonely, depressed, anxious or stressed out, you use social media to overcome boredom and to feel connected to other people.
- You feel like you are missing out (FOMO), so you check your social feeds often.
- Every time you receive a notification beep, you feel compelled to check out it immediately, even if you are engaged in other things.
- When you are on social media, you compare yourself to other people’s lives or how they look.
Use Social Media to better your life
Keep track of how much time you spend on social media and how it makes you feel. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, it may be time to rethink your virtual relationships and opt for more meaningful in-person relationships.
Turn off your notifications. There is no need to be notified every time someone makes a comment, posts something new etc. Instead, wait till you have the time to go to your feeds and review your notifications there.
Re-examine why you are turning to social media. Is it out of habit, or to fill up gaps in your downtime so you can avoid other tasks, projects, feelings etc.? Try to find other things to refocus your energy away from social media use.
If you are sitting on the sidelines, scrolling through posts but avoid interaction. Choose a few posts or friends that you feel more connected to or want to feel connected to, and change the passive scrolling into more meaningful connections.
Avoid comparing your life to others on social media; keep in mind that unless your connections are your close friends, the beautiful displays of people’s lives are only a snapshot of their lives. You really do not know what stress or turmoil their lives have. Instead, focus on the good you have in your life. No one’s life is as perfect as it appears on social media.
Tip the scales towards fewer social media interactions and more in-person connections whenever possible.
Give Yourself Permission to Breathe
Remember to breathe!
Wherever you are in your life, we hope you give yourself permission to breathe. We hope that you take time every day to take stock of all the amazing parts of yourself, and you check personal criticism at the door.
The world we live in today is not easy; demands and stresses are bearing down on us every day. Our hope for you is that in a world that is always rushing, you can find a moment of stillness in your life to just be in the moment. Whatever that moment is.
If you feel grief, give yourself permission to feel it. If you feel tired, give yourself permission to take a rest. If you feel joy, then allow yourself to celebrate happiness. If you are not sure what you are feeling, release the pressure of trying to define the feelings and just be in the moment
Whatever happened today, this week or this month, give yourself “Permission to Breathe
- To remember
- To honour
- To celebrate
- To nurture
- To practice thankfulness
- To laugh
- To cry
- To Breathe