Social media can be positive in many ways, as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat allow us to stay connected to friends and family members that live in other locations. These platforms provide an avenue for new social connections and finding community with others who share similar interests.
However, using social media can also have harmful consequences, particularly when it comes to mental health. There has been growing concern about social media use and its potential to spur negative self-perception, feelings of loneliness, and increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Let’s take a look at 5 signs that your social media use may be negatively impacting your mental health.
5 Signs Your Social Media Use is Negatively Impacting Your Mental Health
- You find that after engaging with social media, you feel increasingly lonely, anxious, or depressed.
Take note of how you feel after you scroll through your feeds. If you are overwhelmed with sadness, stress or just feel extremely drained after spending time on social media, it is likely taking a toll on you emotionally.
For more information about symptoms of stress and the impact of chronic stress, click here.
- You are constantly comparing yourself to others.
Maybe you find that looking at posts on social media fuels feelings of dissatisfaction about yourself and your own life. Whether these feelings are about your physical appearance or where you feel you are in life compared to others (who may be traveling the world or getting married), social media can facilitate unhealthy comparison. Perhaps you find that social media is triggering negative thoughts about your body and/or current life circumstances. This is something worth paying attention to, as constant comparison can exacerbate depressive symptoms.
- You notice that you are replacing in-person interactions for social media.
While social media has its benefits for supplementing connection with others, it cannot replace in-person interaction. If you find that you are increasingly disinterested in fostering real-life connections, or constantly distracted by social media while spending time with others, this may be a sign that social media use has become unhealthy.
- Social media is disrupting your ability to get quality sleep.
Maybe you typically scroll through social media before bedtime which affects your ability to fall asleep. If your sleep is consistently disrupted due to social media, this can significantly impact your mental health. Lack of adequate sleep is connected with worsened symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You find yourself glued to your social media accounts, and it is causing problems in other areas of your life.
If you find yourself constantly checking your social media, and it is distracting from your ability to be present at work/school or in your relationships, this may point to a harmful relationship with social media.
Moving toward Healthier Social Media Use
If you believe that social media could be negatively impacting your mental health, there are steps you can take towards developing a healthier relationship with social media.
Some of these strategies include:
- Limiting daily usage. Set a limit for an amount of time per day you wish to spend on social media, and stick to it. Designate certain times that you will put your phone away, such as during work/school, mealtimes, when spending time with friends and family, and/or before bed. Disconnecting with social media during these times will improve your ability to be present and stay engaged in your life in meaningful ways.
- Being mindful of how certain accounts make you feel. If following a certain person or account constantly makes you feel bad about yourself or is negatively impacting your self-esteem, do not hesitate to unfollow. Fill your feeds with inspirational accounts that promote positive body image and self-acceptance. Many therapists, counselors, and mental health brands have social media accounts that might also brighten your day.
- Taking regular breaks from social media. Commit to several days each month that you will greatly reduce the time you spend on social media. Take note of how you feel during that time in comparison to when you’re regularly engaging with social media.
- Building upon your connections in real life. Strengthening your relationships off the screen can have a significant impact on your mental health. Connecting with others in person decreases the need to rely on social media as your primary source of interaction. Strong social connections can reduce feelings of loneliness, as social media may increase your sense of isolation.