I will be the first to admit it, I spend a crazy amount of time online throughout the day. My iPhone is an extension of my hand as there is always a photo opportunity or a pretty Instagram feed to scroll through for inspiration.
Social Media is a minefield of positives and negatives and as a Mental Health professional I sit back from time to time and think, ‘How is this affecting our Mental Health?’
I have read around a lot of research on social media and its links to low self esteem, Anxiety and Depression.
Did you know that 56% of people aged 18-25 spend more than 3 hours a day on social media?
Comparison is the thief of joy…
There is always going to be someone who is always skinnier, prettier or has a nicer house and we all think ‘where the flip did I go wrong?’. It’s difficult but we need to be content with what we have. Just because someone else portrays a happy and care free life does not always mean that they are more fulfilled. Remember, people are only sharing the things they want you to see, rarely will you see the negative stuff, the arguments, the work pressures or the credit card debt accrued in trying to have a ‘perfect life’ – nobody’s life is perfect no matter how amazing their Instagram profile leads you to believe. #nofilter? I think not.
‘Likes’ do not make you a better person…
Social media is addictive and our smile can beam from ear to ear when a photo gets a certain number of likes or we get a few more followers. Although this might give you boost of confidence for a short period of time, the number of ‘likes’ you get on Social Media should not validate you as a person. You are more than that, trust me. You are individual, unique and special in so many ways…your worth cannot be measured in ‘likes’.
There is always one…
Ten positive comments and one negative comment, which one will we dwell on? People can hide behind social media and say nasty things because they think that they can get away with it (I hear the term ‘keyboard warrior’ mentioned from time to time, more like keyboard cowards). In my experience in the mental health field, ‘pain causes pain’, although the comment may be hurtful, I always think about what might be going on with the individual that made them hurtful things in the first place. All behaviour makes sense but that does not make it right. If you feel you cannot deal with the person, block them, delete them and do whatever makes you feel better. Its cathartic on so many levels.
A.K.A Fear Of Missing Out
It’s the pressure we feel that makes us want to do what everyone else is doing, go to the same place everyone else is going and having the need to share it to prove our lives are just as good as theirs. This can give us a sense of anxiety that our lives are not as ‘Instagrammable‘ as everyone else’s. I think to myself, why are people doing this to themselves??
I’m a bit of a rebel in that if someone is going to a ‘cool place’ I tend to go the opposite way and find something different. I see this ‘anxiety’ to please others so much on my feeds I just want to tell people to relax and live the life YOU feel comfortable with! We categorically cannot please everyone and you will just wear yourself out trying to do so.
It’s not all doom and gloom…
For every person I see on social media that makes me ‘eye roll’, there someone that inspires immense creativity. I have met so many people through blogging and social media that are truly amazing. It’s a great way to find people with similar interests and the same life values as you. I have had some super luck in finding a few lovely people who now I consider friends and if it wasn’t for social media we may have never met!
How can I help myself?
Switch off. Literally.
Set the phone or laptop down and take time out from social media, our poor brains need a rest after a long day at work or looking after the kids. Use the time to have a relaxing bath or read a book. Being continually ‘switched on’ our brains cannot cope with the information overload which leads to exhaustion.
Do not use social media before bed.
I have a rule of no technology in the bedroom but I still find myself having a last scroll through (1 hour later…) before going to bed. Social media can effect our sleep pattern and the light of our phones messes up the bodies natural ‘wind down time’ so if you must look, make sure you switch your screen to night mode. If we don’t get a proper rest our body cannot cope which can lead to physical and mental exhaustion.
Talk to someone.
If you feel that it is all getting you down and your feeling of Anxiety or Depression is getting in the way of you living your life. There is always someone to talk to (and I mean face to face talking with a cup of tea not over whatsapp messages)… A friend, your GP or someone you trust.
I hope to continue to inspire others and make my social media channels a happy and positive place. Always be yourself and try and not succumb to the perceived way of life you think you should be having, happiness always comes from within yourself and not from external gratifications.