We as human beings are social creatures – we need to be around others to thrive in life. But what happens when you become too connected to social media?
In-person connections can ease stress, anxiety, and depression, boost self-worth, provide comfort and joy, prevent loneliness, and even add years to your life.
So when these connections are made it makes a huge impact on our mental health and overall happiness.
But as technology has advanced we tend to rely on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram to fill that connection need.
While social media does allow you to communicate and stay up to date with family and friends around the world.
As well a find new friends and communities so you can network with other people who share similar interests or aspirations.
This virtual communication on social media doesn’t have the same psychological benefits as face-to-face contact has.
An article by Lawrence Robinson and Melinda Smith says…
“It requires in-person contact with others to trigger the hormones that alleviate stress and make you feel happier, healthier, and more positive. Ironically for a technology that’s designed to bring people closer together, spending too much time engaging with social media can actually make you feel more lonely and isolated—and exacerbate mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.”
Without knowing each of you personally, I can make the assumption that you at some point in time have allowed social media to make you feel more sad, frustrated, lonely, inadequate, and self-absorbed.
I know I have many times.
But we are not alone. When you spend too much time exposed to biased information it makes sense that there’s a high risk you will develop these negative experiences
So today I want to lay out the signs that it may be time to re-examine your online habits. Sometimes it takes a simple gut check to admit you have a real problem.
Then I will offer you ways to prevent social media from impacting your mental health.
I’ve personally gone through a social media detox the last few months using some of these steps and it made an instant impact on not just my mental health but my real-life relationships.
While there is no limit of time to spend on social media that will assure your mental health isn’t affected it’s important to know the indicators that social media may be negatively affecting your mental health.
One of those indicators is that you are spending more time on social media than offline with friends. Are you opting for scrolling Instagram stories, Twitter feeds, and TikTok videos instead of setting up coffee dates and happy hour meetups? It’s something to seriously take note of.
Again, you can’t allow social media to become a substitute for offline social interaction. And this goes right into when you are out with your friends to keep OFF social media.
If you keep returning to social media over and over again you are guilty of FOMO -fear of missing out.
You feel relationships or your business will suffer, or you’ll be left out of a conversation if you don’t respond immediately to a notification of a post like, comment, tag, or dm.
Social media wants you to spend more and more time on their platforms – so they will do anything to notify you to GET BACK ON… but understanding this vicious cycle is important.
Using social media more often will only increase this FOMO and your feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and loneliness
Another sign that social media may be negatively affecting your mental health is you are comparing yourself unfavorably to others. That comparison trap.
You see a woman your age in a two-piece with a kick-ass body and you immediately develop low self-esteem, right?
You can quickly develop a negative body image and these feelings affect your mood and worsen any symptoms of depression and stress.
This goes for business, health, family, finances, and all the things.
This may lead you to want positive reactions to your posts like she’s getting so you engage in unhealthy behaviors.
This could be posting more provocative photos than you’re used to posting, engaging in cyberbullying, or feeling pressure to post more regularly about yourself.
Remember all you’re worried about is getting more and more comments, likes, and shares on your posts… so even if you have to pick up your phone while at work or school or while driving you do it.
You even check social media while making dinner, while eating with your family, and when you lie in bed.
This leads to sleep problems as the light from your phone can disrupt your sleep and in turn, can have a serious impact on your mental health.
When every spare moment is filled with engaging on social media you are leaving yourself little to no time to even reflect on who you are.
The way you grow as a person is to be aware of your brand interest and beliefs as I teach in step one of my Stay in Your Lane Brand Method.
But if you leave no time for self-reflection – you live on a saucer rotating around the moods others put you in. You lose yourself completely and don’t even know why you act the way you do.
Alright ….so by now I’m pretty sure you can honestly admit that you could do better at modifying your social media use.
So here are four ways to prevent social media from impacting your mental health:
I mean even myself I spend more than 30 min a day on social media – so that can be an unrealistic first target for many but reducing the time you are spending is a must.
Most phones now have a tracker in them so you can see how much time you are spending on social media. So know your current time and then set your goal and adjust it less and less every week.
Another simple way to reduce time is to turn your phone upside down at all times – I’ve recently started doing this and it’s making a HUGE difference for me picking it up less often.
I also have my phone silenced most of the day so I don’t hear any dings or distracting noises. Especially while working, at dinner, while driving, or while with friends.
Another big one for me is to not bring your phone to the bathroom with you. I know I’m not the only guilty mom out there of this one!
But it’s very simple to disable social media notifications. Remember social media wants us ON their platform so when you turn off all notifications there are no alerts to tell you to get back on to read a new comment or message.
This really is the first step to regaining control over social media.
You simply go into your phone settings and notifications and for each app slide notifications to OFF.
While some suggest removing social media apps from your phone and only checking it from a desktop computer I feel that if put them in a folder and not on the home screen you have a better chance of NOT checking them that often.
The second way to prevent social media from impacting your mental health is to focus on your motivation for using it.
Most times we are using it purely out of habit or to kill time waiting for a child to get out of school. But if you have a purpose for using it you can get on and off and limit your time on the platforms.
So next time you get on social media ask yourself these three questions:
The third way to prevent social media from impacting your mental health is to spend more time with friends OFFLINE!
Yes… set aside time each week for a…
Even if you’re busy there are always ways to set aside each time to get face to face with someone without relying on social media. Even if you are new to an area – go to the coffee shop or restaurant and interact with others inside.
A simple HELLO and smile will improve how you feel and you never know where a kind gesture will lead.
An example – Just last night I was invited to a neighbors house for a wine tasting and dinner. Granted we just moved here a few months ago so I had only met the host once and didn’t know any of the other six ladies attending… I was so close to turning down the offer but something inside me needed that interaction. Turned out I had a great time and just the in-person connection …even with people I had never met prior …made me feel happier.
The fourth way to prevent social media from impacting your mental health is to express gratitude about the important things in your life.
Really reflect and journal positive memories, moments, and experiences… this private reflection and mindfulness allows you to live in the present moment and lesson the impact of FOMO – which is a great way to improve your overall mental wellbeing.
If you find a cause to support – volunteering is also another way to express gratitude. Helping others not only enriches your community but allows you to feel happier and more grateful.
I know this is a lot of information to digest but I feel it’s important more than ever to really diagnose our social media usage and understand how it’s affecting our everyday lives. We can quickly become addicted to social media if you aren’t using these kinds of tips to limit it’s usage. And it can be a lot just to admit you have a problem. It really is the first step.
If you want to understand how social media works to keep you on their sites – there’s a Netflix documentary out right now called The Social Dilemma – this film explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.
It really opens your eyes to the ways social media predicts and changes our behavior.
No one is safe from social media manipulation but I hope this episode helps you control your social media habits a bit better so it’s doesn’t have a huge impact on your mental health.
And I understand that in times of suggested social distancing and quarantine social media can be an invaluable tool for staying connected in some form or fashion with friends and loved ones.
But again be mindful about how it’s making you feel. It could be doing more harm than good. It’s always important to take steps to limit your social media usage.
Childhood and the teenage years can be filled with developmental challenges and social pressures. For some kids, social media has a way of exacerbating those problems and fueling anxiety, bullying, depression, and issues with self-esteem. If you’re worried about your child’s social media use, it can be tempting to simply confiscate their phone or other device. But that can create further problems, separating your child from their friends and the positive aspects of social media. Instead, there are other ways to help your child use Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms in a more responsible way.
Monitor and limit your child’s social media use. The more you know about how your child is interacting on social media, the better you’ll be able to address any problems. Parental control apps can help limit your child’s data usage or restrict their phone use to certain times of the day. You can also adjust privacy settings on the different platforms to limit their potential exposure to bullies or predators.
Talk to your child about underlying issues. Problems with social media use can often mask deeper issues. Is your child having problems fitting in at school? Are they suffering from shyness or social anxiety? Are problems at home causing them stress?
Enforce “social media” breaks. For example, you could ban social media until your child has completed their homework in the evening, not allow phones at the dinner table or in their bedroom, and plan family activities that preclude the use of phones or other devices. To prevent sleep problems, always insist phones are turned off at least one hour before bed.
Teach your child how social media is not an accurate reflection of people’s lives. They shouldn’t compare themselves or their lives negatively to others on social media. People only post what they want others to see. Images are manipulated or carefully posed and selected. And having fewer friends on social media doesn’t make your child less popular or less worthy.
Encourage exercise and offline interests. Get your child away from social media by encouraging them to pursue physical activities and hobbies that involve real-world interaction. Exercise is great for relieving anxiety and stress, boosting self-esteem, and improving mood—and is something you can do as a family. The more engaged your child is offline, the less their mood and sense of self-worth will be dependent on how many friends, likes, or shares they have on social media.
As you know we only open enrollment for new members 6x a year so I invite you to take a look into what my business bestie Jenny Taylor and myself are doing to help female business builders like yourself who are here on purpose for a purpose. You can learn more at thesocialnotecommunity.com/
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I help women go from feeling stuck and stagnant to being in total control of building a confident, brand-focused online business.
I believe your life experiences and layers of pivots help define what you stand for and lead you to a life with purpose.
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