Balancing Social Media and Mental Health
Are you struggling to find a balance between social media and mental health? Did you know that there is a direct tie between the two? One that could be sabatoging your happiness? Over the last decade, we have all experienced an increase of social media in our lives. As a therapist who helps clients achieve personal growth, technology has allowed me the opportunity to coach and guide people who are not in my direct area. It acts as a tool to help us work on emotional intelligence, from afar. There are positives and negatives that come with social media and its influence (like social media could be the reason you’re feeling sad).
On one hand, social media can be life and happiness-enhancing, especially when it helps you feel more connected to the people you care most about.
At the same time, in my experience as a life coach and relationship coach, I have noticed that if we are not careful, we can allow social media to take over our perceptions and become a sort of filter through which we view the world.
When social media use becomes unbalanced it is common to experience an increase of feelings of insecurity. You may also notice that your thoughts about yourself or your life are more negative, and it can cause you to feel as though others are happier and/or better than you. You might also unintentionally spend less time and attention on the people you’re around “in real life.”
3 Steps To Balance Social Media and Mental Health
We know that spending too much time on social media can mess with our perception of what other people are really doing, what you should look like, and how certain things are portrayed. If social media is making you sad, something isn’t right. So, how can you work to keep your social media and your mental health in good balance?
The thing about Instagram and mental health, or Twitter, or TikTok, is that it is so easy to feel like those little glimpses into people’s lives are their full reality. That is simply not true, and it is important to remember that almost everything on social media is based around each viewer’s own perception of what is happening in a photo or video.
There are three steps to start off with, and I think they will help you to refocus and spend more energy on your own happiness instead of your perception of others’.
1. Be Aware of “False Advertising”
Social media is the place where we all go to document our lives and share our experiences with each other. From what we ate for breakfast, to the most significant events, we post it. But what we all must be aware of, is that the things we see down our timeline have been carefully crafted.
We all know what it’s like to spend several minutes choosing our angles, picking just the right filter, and typing the best caption ever. This effort to only display the best parts of life can cause us to absorb a false sense of reality. It is important to remind yourself that what you see is only what people want you to see. And there is much more to life than what makes it onto our profiles.
2. Do Not Compare
Don’t ever compare your relationships, yourself, or any other aspects of your life with what you see on social media. It is very easy for us to use the social media posts of our friends and people we admire as a compass to where our lives should be. We notice when everyone around us “seems to be” happy, getting married, or having a baby, which makes us examine our lives.
Okay, easier said than done, right? It is important to be aware of the negative feelings that can arise when we view the posts of our social media friends. For example, one of your friends travels to exotic destinations with their significant other, and all you see are posts of beautiful beaches and extravagant dinners. It can be easy to think to yourself “Wow my relationship is never this exciting,” or “My partner never takes me anywhere.”
The trouble with this thinking is that it promotes negativity and may motivate us to place unrealistic expectations on ourselves and our partners.
That couple might be taking great trips, but who knows if they are able to have meaningful conversations or be emotionally intimate in the way that you and your partner might be, for example.
3. Spend Time Off The Grid
If we are not careful, social media can become overwhelming and all-consuming. If you find that you spend a tremendous amount of time on social media, or thinking about posts, or if you notice you are having negative feelings every time you open and close the apps… it’s time to take a break and go off the grid.
I personally have found it very refreshing to spend time away from social media and open myself back up to in-person interactions and experiences. Even if you have to delete the apps from your phone, it can be beneficial to take a step back and regroup— at least for a while. It will all still be there when or if you decide to jump back in. Taking breaks to relax and disconnect periodically will help you keep social media use balanced and in its place. Time away, “in real life,” will help you re-establish a healthy perspective of yourself, your relationships, and your life.
I hope that these strategies help you maintain the positive aspects of social media use, without letting social media interfere with your happiness and life-satisfaction.
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