Exploring the Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

Exploring the Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

Clinical psychologists have recently started to examine the effects social media has on an individual’s mental health. There appears to be a general consensus about social media’s risk for creating a lowered self-image, poor self-esteem, a fear of missing out, an overall dissatisfaction with your own reality, and much more. Unfortunately, teenagers and young adults are especially susceptible to these harmful effects. 

Relax, it’s not about deleting your social media accounts. Instead, it’s about developing healthy habits with them. After all, posting something to social media doesn’t have to be shallow or attention-seeking. Social media has changed and revolutionized the connection humans have to one another in some positive ways, as well too. A clinical psychologist can help you create a new approach to social media called “social media mindfulness.” This approach can help to increase your happiness and self-esteem. 

What is Social Media Mindfulness?

Social media mindfulness means being aware of your social media use and balancing your immersion in social media with involvement in what truly matters in life—human connection. To determine if you may benefit from learning mindful techniques for social media use, consider your answers to these questions:

► Are you so preoccupied with social media activities that you’ve forgotten how to have fun with friends and family? Perhaps the opinions of online acquaintances or strangers have become important than genuine human connection. If so, try leaving your phone in the car or someone else where you can’t access it on the spur of the moment. You could feel weird without your phone—but  stick with it. This is your opportunity to feel more love and connection with your friends and family. 

Are others becoming frustrated or annoyed at the number of photos you take during an event? Taking pictures has traditionally been a way of memorializing a special occasion. It’s not a chance to brag to others about where you are and what you are doing. Therefore, try limiting yourself to two or three pictures. This way, you can enjoy the present moment rather than obsessing about whether the picture you took is the “right” one. 

Do you focus on your phone during conversations or meals with others? Before an event with family or friends, reflect on what you value most about them and which positive feelings you experience from being in their company. Set an intention ahead of time to experience that individual and those feelings during your outing. 

Do you continually check your social media posts for comments, likes, new followers, etc.? Remind yourself that those things don’t determine your self-worth, as true self-worth comes from within. It will take daily practice to remind yourself to be mindful of your social media use. To minimize the use of devices and checking social media, you can treat yourself to a solo activity to reconnect with yourself. Go for a swim in the ocean, take a glorious hike in the woods, or get a massage. Use that alone time to reflect on how much you appreciate the aspects of yourself that you’ve curated during your lifetime. Think about your wit, kindness, generosity, compassion for others, and more. These are the true measures of who you are and your impact on society. 

A trusted and compassionate therapist in Palatine, IL, encourages you to give these tips a try. However, if you’re struggling and can’t break free of your attachment to social media, reach out to schedule an appointment.

Thanks to Lotus Wellness Center for their insight into counseling and stress.