Social Media and Mental Health

social media and mental health

Social media has helped millions of users worldwide keep in touch with distant loved ones, learn about specific interests, share their perspective and feel more connected. But for all the benefits these platforms may have brought to your life, you should also consider how they affect your mental health.

How Does Social Media Impact People’s Mental Health?

Like an irresistibly appealing casino game, apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter incentivize repeated use through intermittent reinforcement. When you get a notification about a new like or comment, your brain releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine. The memory of these occasional, unpredictable rewards keeps people engaged and wanting more.

Unfortunately, the longer you spend using social media, the more likely you’ll be to experience adverse mental health effects like these.

1. Comparing Yourself to Others

Many women post carefully curated pictures of themselves and their families to portray various aspirational aspects of their lifestyles. However, these painstakingly selected photos only show a tiny, idealistic fraction of these people’s lives – one that might be unattainable for most of their audience.

Remember, your favorite Instagram influencer probably spends hours adjusting lighting, filters, cropping and retouching to ensure their followers only see the “perfect” images. Continually comparing your life to these shots of artfully prepared meals, thriving gardens, rosy-cheeked babies or exciting vacations can leave you feeling lonely, jealous or depressed. If you notice social media use is making you experience any of these negative mental health effects, take a digital detox and see how much better you feel.

2. Less Mindfulness

How many times have you gone to an event or destination and seen people’s faces buried in their phones? Perhaps you are someone who regularly records your experiences through your smartphone instead of living in the moment.

Paradoxically, many of us get so excited about capturing photos or videos of a special event or occasion that we miss the immediate delight of observing and engaging firsthand. Spending too much time looking at the world through your phone screen will ultimately take you out of the moment and make the experience less enriching and fulfilling.

3. More Anxiety, Reduced Knowledge

Social media “doomscrolling” has become a particular mental health challenge in recent years, with the coinciding crises of global climate change, an ongoing pandemic and political turmoil. Due to the algorithms built into social media apps, the more bad news you read and interact with, the more you will end up seeing.

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to stay up to date with breaking news and headlines, constantly checking social media for updates is unproductive and will detract from your mental wellness. Furthermore, getting most of your news from sites like Facebook can leave you susceptible to hoaxes, inaccurate reporting and, sometimes, deliberately placed misinformation. For a more realistic, well-balanced outlook, restrict your social media use to only a few minutes per day and block disreputable or sensationalist accounts.

Is Your Social Media Use Unhealthy?

If it has become increasingly difficult to disconnect from your phone and fully participate in everyday life, ask family members and close friends for their honest opinion about your behavior. If they say your social media use seems excessive, try to rein it in by keeping your phone away from easy reach and only using it during specific times of day.

To learn more about improving your mental health and discovering a more fulfilling lifestyle, contact us at Rising Roads Recovery today. We have helped many women from all backgrounds learn to overcome substance abuse and co-occurring mental illnesses.

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