In recent years, social media has become a fundamental part of everyday life for a huge number of people. However, although social media has some positive aspects, it can also negatively impact mental health and wellness. Read on for some positive and negative aspects of social media on mental health, as well as some tips on how to use it in a way that encourages psychological wellness.
The positive aspects of social media
Social media can be a great way to connect with people around the world, to keep up-to-date with family and friends who have moved from the local area, and to build business connections. Functionalities such as boosting posts and creating adverts can be a valuable way to boost small businesses, and social media groups and pages can be goldmines of information and support.
The negative aspects of social media
The bottom line is that people’s social media posts often don’t honestly reflect their lives. Being exposed to highly idealised representations of peers on social media can elicit feelings of envy and unworthiness, while increasing susceptibility to negative mood. While there are lots of great things about social media, it’s worth remembering that scrolling through an endless stream of people’s seemingly perfect lives may not be conducive to good mental health. Mindless scrolling through social media can waste hours of our time, leading to stress and anxiety, and a reduction in time spent outdoors, which is detrimental to both physical and mental health.
Ways to use it positively
Using social media positively is an essential part of maintaining a healthy mental state. Whether you’re keeping up with friends and family, engaging in a healthy debate about controversial issues, sharing photos of your latest accomplishment or hobby, or finding inspiration for new projects and career paths, social media should be used to enrich your life. If you find yourself feeling inferior when compared to your social media peers, or you are emotionally affected by unfollows and low numbers of likes, it’s time to turn off your phone. It can be a mindful act to delete social media apps once in a while to give your mind (and your ego) a well-deserved break.
Things to avoid when using social media
Focusing on other people’s achievements and thus adding pressure and creating unrealistic expectations is a very real downside of social media, and one that impacts a large number of people. By taking time out, you can reduce that pressure on yourself, setting your own goals in a way which promotes a holistic wellness not hooked on other people’s (often less than honest) statements about their own lives.