Social Media and Mental Health

Social media is a platform for sharing ideas, thoughts and information. It’s also a way of connecting with others around the world.

There are pros and cons to social media. Some pros may be a quicker connection, low cost, reaching a wider audience and advertising for businesses. Some cons may be spending too much time, being disconnected from the world, isolation, commitment, and cyberbullying.

If only social media was straightforward and easy, right? Nowadays, it’s all about getting many likes, views and followers.

But, many don’t realise that being obsessed with social media can actually be harmful to your mental health. There is no balance between social media and holistic health. It’s interfering with your life, and there is more to life than just relying on social media for connections, likes and followers.

Many are missing out on connecting with people, nature, life and having fun. There is too much comparison and competition going on between themselves and others. Many rely on others for validation, which is unrealistic representations of themselves, impacting the individuals’ self-esteem and confidence.

Seeking validation from others and not yourself is not always reliable. On the contrary, it causes feelings of inadequateness, depression, and unworthiness.

However, it can also be positive if people healthily use social media. It can help make connections with a larger audience. It can be a way of distracting yourself from the real world. It’s also a good way of connecting with families and friends far away from each other.

Having a support network through social media can help with mental health. People share stories and coping mechanisms. It allows people to know that their feelings are valid and that it is okay to feel the way they feel. It shows others that they are not alone.

This can be a positive influence on others. It gives them a sense of belonging and safety by allowing others to express themselves freely in a healthy way. In these communities, there is an understanding. No one is judging you; they can be there for you and listen to what you have to say. You can feel supported and get helpful advice and tips.

Social media impact on mental health

Social media excludes you from activities that can be fun and connecting with others. It has an impact on your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Not just mentally but physically, too. There is considerable concern about lack, disruption, and delayed sleep due to social media. Depression, memory loss and poor academic performance are all a concern.

Not many realise that your connection between mind and gut are affected too. An unhealthy mind and body can turn into anxiety, depression, nausea, headaches, tremors and tension.

There is a significant rise in “FOMO”, aka Fear of missing out. Many feel that if their presence on social media decreases, their likes, views, and followers would decrease. They fear missing out on the fun, not being invited, not being part of a popular group, not showing off to others or losing friends. Sometimes it turns into competitions between others and themselves.

The use of filters on social media is another concern. For some people, it can be hard to decipher what is real and what is not. Many use filters to make themselves look “perfect”, which is unrealistic. This can impact your mental health because you think that everything has to be perfect when it doesn’t have to be perfect. After all, the reality of life is not perfect, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Putting a burden and pressure on yourself to make it “perfect” daily is exhausting, emotionally draining and too much to keep up with. This can lead to being addicted to perfection. Once you start, it may be challenging to bring yourself back to the ground since it becomes an addiction. However, with the right help, there are ways to help you be less addicted to social media.

When I was younger, I lived without relying on technology.

Technology wasn’t a big deal back then and I think that is why my generation can get on well without technology as we have lived without technology and are able to manage it well. We are more grateful for experiencing this back then and are able to cope well than other generations.

We would take every opportunity to play outside with friends, be in the garden, play different activities and sports, meet friends and connect with nature.

I would get excited about getting new books, pencil cases, pens and pencils. In school, our teachers would write on the blackboards with chalk and copy the notes down in our books. Heck, we would get excited about being able to write on the blackboards with different coloured chalks. It’s the simple things that we would get excited about.

Technology wasn’t a big deal back then. That is why my generation can get on well without technology as we have lived without technology and can manage it well. We are more grateful for experiencing life without technology being a constant, so we can cope better than other generations.

What is my advice?

I am not saying that you should totally remove technology from your life, but rather balance the two. So, that way, it doesn’t affect your holistic health.

It’s important to have a balance, so you are free from the burden of social media pressure. As a result, your mind is free and clear. Free from comparing yourself to others and worrying about the numbers of likes and followers, making self-care more important.

Try to limit your time on social media, take a break by doing physical activities to connect with nature, read books, try out new recipes or meet with friends.

Be a good role model and inspiration to show others that it’s okay not to rely on social media 24/7. It will also help with your mental and physical health. You will feel healthier, more calm, less pressure, less burden, feel good about yourself and ensure you have a healthy well-being life.

Remember that everyone’s life is different. We all are on our own journey, and it cannot be compared at all.

This blog contribution was made by Ayesha Quraishy.

Youth Leader for Peterborough District and Deaf Children’s Society (PDDCS), Volunteer Blog Writer for Like Minded Females (LMF) Network and Podcast Presenter for Cambridgeshire Deaf Association (CDA).

My ultimate goal is to give the deaf community a voice on a higher platform. My biggest achievement is, as a deaf woman, being able to overcome adversity that Deaf people face on a daily basis and proving to others it is possible to achieve things that you want.” — (Ayesha)

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