As social media continues to flourish, its effect on our mental health becomes more evident. Arguments can be made that spending time on social platforms both positively and negatively influence our psychological and emotional well-being. Finding a balance is key. With some reflection and insight, you can learn to manage wellness in a networking world.
Checking social media remains one of the most popular activities among internet users, likely because humans are social creatures. Worldwide, more than 3.6 billion people were using social media in 2020. By 2025, that number is expected to reach more than 4.4 billion users.
One study broke down the age demographic in the U.S., finding that 69 percent of adults and 81 percent of teenagers are on social media platforms. The numbers are staggering, which is why it’s so important to develop a healthy relationship with social media.
Much of our mental health relies on connecting with and cultivating happy, positive relationships with others. Over the past decade, advancements in technology have given us the ability to make connections easier, but has it become too easy? Social media platforms don’t provide for every element of intimate, face-to-face, real-world closeness, but they do have a lot to offer.
Connecting. Social media offers a great way to stay in touch with family and friends that may live far away. To find and reconnect with old friends. To maintain relationships when visiting isn’t an option, such as during a global pandemic, or when physical or geographical barriers prevent outside travel. To meet new friends through mutual contacts or shared interests. And to discover valuable information or support through groups, videos, and online events.
Motivating. Those seeking a personal lifestyle change often turn to social media for motivation and accountability. Someone who wants to start a fitness regime or give up smoking can find a support system in this unlikely place. Sharing progress updates generates encouragement, which prompts goal seekers to keep moving forward.
Companionship. Especially right now, battling loneliness is more difficult than ever before. We have isolated and quarantined and stayed in our homes for a year, and for some people that solitude is taking a toll on their mental health. Social media allows those without regular access to the outside world to find and sustain friendships to keep from feeling lonely. One study indicated that more and more seniors are using social media to stay connected and informed.
Conversely, too much time spent on social media, for the wrong reasons, can produce negative repercussions on one’s emotional health. A constant barrage of gloomy stories or bad news can weigh heavily on our mental state. When everything we see is gloom and doom, we can oftentimes feel overwhelmed and hopeless.
We may also be subjected to nonstop perkiness from others and develop feelings of inadequacy by comparison. Keep in mind that many people on social platforms share only the good things. So, try not to use updates from others as a gauge for your own accomplishments and happiness.
A steady presence on social media may also lead to a dependence on it, for Fear Of Missing Out. We’ve all heard of FOMO, right? That’s the need to habitually log in and check your notifications or scroll through newsfeeds to find out what’s going on and what you may have missed in the last two minutes. That social media instinct that’s always so curious? Try to silence it, if you can. You don’t need it or social platforms controlling your life.
Understanding the behavioral benefits and shortcomings of social media is essential for finding a healthy balance. Changes in routine can help cultivate a more positive approach to social media use.
Set limits. Put a limit on the amount of time you spend on social platforms each day. Before checking in, ask yourself if there’s a reason to do so or if you’re simply bored. Needless scrolling whittles away time, so try to make your social media check-ins purposeful, deliberate, and infrequent.
Power down. Turn off your electronic devices throughout the day to ensure you’re restricting screen time. Refrain from bringing your phone or tablet to bed so that you aren’t tempted to regularly check them. Additionally, the light from these devices adversely affects sleep patterns. Quality sleep is necessary for mental and emotional wellness.
Take breaks. Set aside your phone or other device for 12 or 24 hours at least once a week for a social media cleanse. Staying away from media influences for extended periods of time allows your mind to reset and refocus.
Use your social media powers for good. Define for yourself the message(s) you want to send to the world through your social profiles. Then only post things that align with those values.
Social media is a powerful tool that helps enhance our lives, mostly for the better. But too much of anything can cause setbacks and affect our mental health. Take inventory of the quantity and quality of time spent on social platforms to better manage wellness in a networking world. If you find you are often anxious or overwhelmed, it may be a sign that you may need to cut back. The Calli Institute is here to assist you in taking steps toward positive relationships online and beyond. Reach out to us today to learn how we can help.