Mental Health and Social Media
Mental Health and social media is an incredibly relevant topic at the moment. There are many platforms on which you can ‘get lost’ for hours on end surfing from topic to topic and possibly ending up watching videos or looking at content you couldn’t have imagined existed.
The internet and social media can be an ever-present presence in our life, from the moment we wake until the moment we go to bed. I have social media, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that I use for business and for me in this way it is a positive tool. It is an effective way to communicate with lots of people quickly and easily, letting them know that I exist and what I can offer them. In a general sense, it can offer up interesting and funny diversions from everyday life that can be harmless and entertaining. It can allow you to connect with others all over the world with similar interests. People make friendships and form relationships online that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to do. It helps with isolation and can provide an invaluable virtual community. It has also become an intrinsic part of motivating people to take action and make social change, allowing all groups to have a voice and be heard.
However, just as it can have a positive impact on our lives, it can also have a negative impact and cause great emotional and mental distress. Here is a list of some of the ways in which social media can impact on us in a detrimental way.
- Impact on sleep – not putting boundaries around your phone use can see you using it late into the night and not sleeping properly.
- Impact on time management – it can become addictive to check notifications or simply to sink into scrolling stories and videos across all social media sites, meaning that you don’t get on with what you need to be doing.
- False Perception, Life comparison tool – social media gives us insight into the lives of other people. People who to begin with have vastly more money or resources than us. We can begin to compare our lives to theirs and feel that ours are no good in comparison. Or we compare how we look, how we dress or our relationships. Comparison to others steals our confidence and self-esteem. We forget that the content that most people show is ‘their best side’ it is curated, and its aim is to get likes and attention. Some people are particularly good at this, and it can give us a warped perception of our own lives.
- Cyber Bullying and Trolling – often social media can be a place where bullies feel safe behind anonymity or the disinhibition of being behind a screen, feeling that they can say what they want. This can have a massive impact on a person’s mental health, self-esteem and confidence.
How can you help yourself to manage your social media use better? If you feel that your use of social media is having a negative impact on your mental health or life and relationships in any way, try some of the tips below to help you manage your relationship with your phone and social media accounts.
- Limit the amount of time you use social media. Most apps will tell you how long you have spent on their app. Take note of this and set yourself a limit.
- Choose to get rid of the apps that you use or enjoy the least. Notice if you miss it or not and what you missed about it. Be choosy about what apps you use.
- Cultivate and curate the content you look at. Look at those that you follow and consider whether you are really interested in what they have to say, when you see their content do you feel better or worse. If the answer is negative…. unfollow.
- Look at your friends on Facebook, are there people that you are friends with that you don’t know, or don’t really want to know. If so, again be choosy about the friends you have in your virtual life.
- Pretend that your phone is a landline, and leave it plugged in. (charging or not it does not matter) You tend not to sit watching tv, eating tea or doing work with your landline right next to you on your lap. Practice not having your mobile in your pocket or glued to your hand. Allow it to exist in another room while you get on with other things.
- Mute notifications – if you stop the notifications then you won’t have that conditioned response to the bell or the light telling you that you need to check something.
- Detox – if none of the above helps you to have a different relationship with social media maybe it’s time to go cold turkey and cut yourself off. Perhaps get a friend to change your passwords and delete the apps from your phone for a pre-agreed time. Use the time to notice how you feel and what’s different when you have more time and head space.
- For more ideas on managing you social media use, please take a look at this article by the Anna Fraud Centre “Managing Social Media.”
If though you are looking for more formal support call Paul Carter now to book an appointment or to discuss your issues further. At the moment Paul is only working online or the telephone due to COVID. To make an appointment please call Paul on 07843 813 537 or fill in the form on the Contact Page, if he doesn’t answer he is probably in a session, please leave him a message and he will call you back as soon as he can.