Nowadays, many of us love and enjoy using social media, especially Instagram.
Excessive use may cause us to feel anxiety, depression, loneliness, and FOMO. So we decided to show you how to change your bad habits and improve your mood.
The role of social media and social networks on mental health
Humans are social beings by nature.
To improve life, we need to connect with others, and this connection has an essential effect on our mental wellbeing and happiness.
Social relationships with others will help you get rid of stress, anxiety, and depression and improve your self-esteem, offer satisfaction and joy, prevent isolation, and even add years to your life.
On the other hand, a lack of good social ties may put your emotional and mental health at risk.
Most of us use social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram to find and communicate with one another in today’s world.
Although each has its benefits, you should know that social media can never substitute genuine human interaction.
To activate the hormones and feelings that relieve stress and keep you feeling happier, healthier, and more optimistic, you must interact with others in person.
Trying to spend too much time on social media, surprisingly for a technology that is supposed to bring people closer together, can potentially make you feel more depressed and lonely—and worsen mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
Suppose you’re spending too much time on social media and are experiencing feelings of depression, disappointment, anger, or isolation.
In that case, it’s time to re-evaluate your online behaviors and find a healthy balance.
What motivates you to use social media?
The majority of us nowadays use our phones and tablets to access social media such as Instagram.
Although this makes staying in touch with friends very easy, it also ensures that social media is still available.
The continuous alarms and reminders influencing your concentration and attention, disrupting your sleep, and cause you, prisoner, yourself to your phone can cause impulse control problems.
Social media apps aim to capture your attention, hold you online, and stop you from refreshing your monitor for notifications. It’s how businesses make profits.
Psychological problems can be triggered by social media use, just as they can be triggered by gambling problems, cigarettes, alcohol, or opioid abuse.
When you get a like, a retweet, or a positive response to a tweet, your brain releases serotonin, the same “reward” hormone that you get after playing at a slot machine, eating chocolate, or smoking a cigarette, for example.
The more you’re praised, the more time you want to spend on social media, even though it has negative consequences in other areas of your life.
Social media’s optimistic points
Though virtual interaction on social media does not have the same positive effects as face-to-face communication, it can still help you stay connected and promote your mental health in different ways.
Social media can help you in different ways to increase your emotions and mental health so that you can use social media to:
- Keep in touch and informed with relatives and lots of friends.
- Make new friends and join new communities; connect with those that have common interests or goals.
- Participate in or support worthy causes and raise the concern about critical issues.
- During difficult times, search or give emotional support.
- If you live in a rural place, have minimal mobility, social anxiety, or are a marginalized community member, find a crucial social link.
- Find a way to show yourself and your imagination.
- Find (with caution) sources of valuable knowledge and education.
Signs that social media is hurting mental health
Everyone seems to be different, so there is no fixed number of social media usage, frequency of checking for notifications, or amount of ads you create that means your use is unhealthy.
Instead, it’s about how much time you spend on social media improves your health and other facets of your life, as well as your reasons for using it.
For example, if your social media use causes you to ignore face-to-face interactions, serves to distract you from work or school, or makes you feel jealous, frustrated, or sad, it may be troublesome.
Similarly, whether you’re just on social media because you’re bored or lonely or because you want to make someone jealous or angry, it’s time to reconsider your online behaviors.
The following are signs that social media is harming your mental health:
You spend more time online with your peers than you do with your real-life friends.
The use of social media has replaced many of the offline social experiences.
Even when you’re out with friends, you feel compelled to check social media regularly, always motivated by the fear that others are having more enjoyable than you.
On social media, you are making unfavorable comparisons to others.
You have a poor sense of self-worth or a negative feeling of your image. You may also have maladjusted eating habits.
You are being the victim of cyberbullying. Alternatively, you might be concerned that you do not influence what others say about you online.
Distractions at school or work. You’re under stress to post new content about yourself regularly, receive feedback or likes on your posts, and react to friends’ posts rapidly and happily.
There isn’t more time in the day to increase the favorable personality.
You spend every important second on social media and have no time to focus on who you are, what you believe, or why you behave the way you do—the things that help you develop as an individual.
You are risking one’s safety to earn likes, comments, or constructive feedback on social media.
You engage in risky stunts, post humiliating material, cyberbully others, or use your phone and drive or in other potentially hazardous circumstances.
I’m having trouble sleeping. Do you browse social media late at night, early morning, or even when you wake up in the middle of the night?
Smartphones and other gadgets emit light that can interrupt your rest, which can hurt your mental health.
Nervousness or depression symptoms are getting worse. Instead of managing to relieve negative emotions and boost your health, social media makes you feel more nervous, depressed, or lonely.
The disadvantages of social media
Since social media is modern technology, little research has been done to determine the long-term effects, positive or harmful, of its use.
Different studies, however, have linked heavy social media use to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, isolation, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts.
Social media, such as Instagram: can promote harmful interactions.
Feelings of inadequacy in your life or performance. Even if you are aware that the photos you see on social media have been distorted, they can still cause suffering about how you look or what is going on in your life.
Similarly, we’re all conscious that others only share the high points of their lives, seldom the low times everybody goes through.
That doesn’t make you feel any less envious or dissatisfied as you see your friend’s fake-looking pictures of their sunny beach vacation or hear about their exciting new job promotion.
Fear of being left out (FOMO).
Although FOMO has existed since before social media, platforms like Facebook and Instagram tend to amplify feelings that others are having more joy or leading better lives than you.
The feeling that you’re missing out on something can lower your self-esteem, cause anxiety, and encourage you to use social media even more.
FOMO will make you use your phone every few seconds to search for alerts or reply obsessively to every attention—even if it means risking your life when driving, sacrificing sleep at night, or optimizing social media engagement over real-world relationships.
Isolation. According to a University of Pennsylvania report, excessive use of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram contribute to feelings of loneliness rather than alleviating them.
On the other hand, reduced social media use can make you feel less depressed and alone while also improving your overall health, according to the study.
Anxiety and depression. Humans need face-to-face contact to be psychologically healthy.
Eye-to-eye contact with someone who cares for you reduces stress and boosts mood more quickly and effectively than any other method.
If you choose social media for in-person experiences, you’re more likely to develop or worsen mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
Harassment on the internet. About 10% of teenagers say they’ve been bullied on social media, and several others have received derogatory remarks.
Instagram and other social media sites can be hotbeds for sharing hurtful rumors, lies, and violence that can leave deep trauma.
Self-indulgence. Sharing countless selfies and your inner world feelings on social media can lead to an unhealthy sense of personality and a disconnect from real-life relationships.
Many of us enjoy using social media as a “safety net.” We switch to our smartphones and log in to social media if we’re in a social position and experience nervousness, uncomfortable, or loneliness.
Of course, using social media deprives you of face-to-face contact that can help you relax.
Your excessive use of social media could mask other underlying issues like tension, depression, or frustration.
You may be using social media to relieve yourself from negative emotions or self-soothe your feelings if you spend more time on it when you’re sad, lonely, or bored.
Although it can be challenging at first, allowing you to feel it will lead to better choices.
Changing how you use social media to boost your mental health
Step 1: Reduce time online.
According to a 2018 University of Pennsylvania report, limiting social media use to 30 minutes per day reduced anxiety, stress, isolation, sleep issues, and FOMO significantly.
However, you shouldn’t need to dramatically reduce your social media use to boost your mental health.
While our time spent on social media by 30 minutes a day might not be a reasonable goal for us, we can still profit from doing so. For the most part, this entails limiting our mobile users.
The following suggestions may be helpful:
- Check the time you spend on social media each day with an application. Then decide how much you want to decrease it by.
- Switch off your phone while you’re working, in a conference, at the workout, eating, spending time with your online friends, or playing with your children at certain times of the day. Take your phone out of the toilet with you.
- Do not bring your phone or tablet to bed with you. Turn devices off and position them in a different room to charge overnight.
- Deactivate social media alerts if you don’t want to be bothered. The relentless ringing, beeping, and dinging of your phone can alert you to new messages that are difficult to ignore.
You can recover control of your time and concentration by turning off notifications.
- Checks should be restricted. If it is your habit to check your phone every several minutes, try limiting yourself to once every 15 minutes.
Then every 30 minutes, and then every hour. Some applications will restrict how much time you have access to your phone randomly.
- Remove social media applications from your Smartphone and use your tablet or computer to search Instagram.
If this seems like too much of a change, start by eliminating one social media app at a time and see how much you use it.
Step 2: Change your focus
Most of us use social media out of habit or pass the time while we have free time.
However, by concentrating on your reason for signing on, you can not only cut down on the amount of time you spend on social media, but you can also enhance your interaction and avoid many of the drawbacks.
If you’re using social media to find relevant topics, check-in a sick friend, or share new pictures of your children with parents, for example, your behavior is very different from if you’re logging in or to pass the time or see how many likes you received on a prior post, or see if you’re missing out on anything.
Next time you go using social media, take a moment to think about why you’re doing so.
- Do you use social media to replace face-to-face interactions?
Is there a better way to spend your time on social media? Maybe, if you’re feeling lonely, invite friends out for coffee.
Do you have a bad mood? Go for a stroll or visit the gym.
- Are you bored?
Take up a new pastime. While social media is convenient and fast, there are healthier and more efficient ways to fulfill a craving.
- Are you a social media committed or active user?
Passively clicking through messages or secretly following others’ social media interactions provides no real sense of relation.
It can also exacerbate feelings of loneliness. On the other hand, being an active member would give you more opportunities to interact with others.
- Is social media making you feel insecure or unsatisfied with your life?
Choosing to focus on what you have rather than what you lack will help you overcome FOMO symptoms.
Prepare a list of all the good things in your life and refer to it if you feel like you’re losing out on something.
And keep in mind that no one’s life is as picture-perfect as it appears on social media.
Step 3: Spend more time with friends who aren’t online.
To be joyful, we all need the company of others in person. When social media like Instagram is used adequately, it can be an excellent tool for promoting face-to-face interactions.
If you’ve let great inventions take the place of real-life friendships in your life, there are plenty of other ways to form due to features without relying on social media:
- Make time per week to connect with friends and family offline. Make it a daily gathering where you still turn off your mobile.
- Reaching out to an old and online friend and set up a meeting if you’ve missed face-to-face relationships. Offer to run an errand or work out together if you both have busy schedules.
- Join a party. Join a group of like-minded people who meet regularly to pursue a hobby, artistic pursuit, or fitness activity that you enjoy.
- It would help if you didn’t let social media get in the way of your success. Even if you’re shy, some strategies have been established to help you conquer fear and form friendships.
- If you don’t have any friends to spend time with, reach out to relatives and friends. Many others are as afraid to make new friends as you are, so be the one to break the ice.
- Invite a colleague to lunch, or invite a friend or an acquaintance to coffee.
- Come into contact with those you don’t know and connect with them. Look up your phone and make eye contact with people you pass on the bus, in the coffee shop, or at the supermarket. Smiling or saying hello will make you feel better, and you never know where it will lead.
Step 4: Express gratitude
Gratefulness for the essential things in life can welcome relief from the anger, hatred, and frustration that social media can often create:
- Take some time to think. Make a note of all the beautiful memories and positive aspects of your life, as well as the people and things you’d miss if they vanished overnight.
- You can also share your appreciation on social media if you’re more inclined to ventilating or negative posts—although you may gain more from private thought.
- Make an effort to be conscious. FOMO keeps you thinking about life’s failures and difficulties by causing you to compare yourself adversely to others.
- Instead of being completely present at the moment, you’re preoccupied with the “what ifs” and “if only’s” that keep you from living the life you see on social media.
- Become a volunteer. Humans are hard-wired to pursue human interaction and offer others the same way as challenging to seek social connection.
- Helping other people or animals enhances your society and supports a cause you care about, but it also makes you feel happy and more thankful.
Assisting youth or adolescents who are using social media in an unhealthy manner
Developmental difficulties and social stresses can be common during youth and adolescence.
Social media exacerbates these concerns for some youth, such as anxiety, bullying, depression, and self-esteem troubles.
You can easily check your children’s phones if you’re concerned about their social media usage.
However, this may lead to further issues by isolating your child from their peers and the benefits of social media.
There are other options for helping your child use Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites responsibly:
- Manage and restrict your child’s use of social media.
- Discuss any underlying problems with your child.
- Make “social media” breaks mandatory.
- Teach your child that social media does not represent people’s lives accurately.
- Encourage physical activity as well as offline pursuits.
Summary about the Cons & Pros of using Instagram on mental health
Humans are social creatures that need social contact to survive. Numerous studies have shown that these social experiences have a significant effect on our mental wellbeing and happiness.
Healthy social interactions reduce tension, strengthen self-image, reduce feelings of loneliness, and lead to a greater sense of overall wellbeing.
So, what are some of the benefits and drawbacks of social media’s impact on mental health?
- Pro: It improves contact and understanding
Cons: Fake news is promoted.
- Pro: It can aid in the reduction of emotions of social isolation
Cons: It’s also possible that it’ll make you feel lonelier.
- Pro: Help-seeking behavior is normalized
Cons: It has the potential to encourage antisocial behavior.
So, what’s the final word?
There are a lot of cons and pros to using social media. It’s a perfect tool for connecting and accessing information if you use it properly.
Restrict the use of social media and make sure you’re using it for the right reasons to avoid being negatively affected by it.
Be mindful of the detrimental effects that excessive use of social media could have on your mental wellbeing and friendships, and prioritize face-to-face experiences with those you care for as much as possible.