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Using social media to feel better

Time and time again, we hear about the downsides of social media; about how it can give us all a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), or about how it can lead to comparing ourselves against others constantly. These kinds of things are clearly not a recipe for good mental health and can even result in low self-esteem, anxiety and depression in some cases. A recent study by the Journal of Depression and Anxiety found that those with a high level of social media usage were 2.7 times more likely to experience depression than those who use it very little.

Despite the negative aspects of social media being fairly widely understood, few of us are willing to give it up completely. And so, if we’re determined to keep using our social media profiles, and want to save ourselves from feeling awful, we need to start using it better! In this article, we take a look at how you can actually use social media to make yourself feel good. Read on for more.

It is very easy to assume that everyone else is living a perfect life except you. Of course, this is very, very rarely the case for anyone. Social media profiles – especially those of celebrities – tend to highlight only the good aspects of someone’s life. Scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed, you could be forgiven for mistaking everyone else’s life is exciting and they are constantly happy. The key is to use your critical eye when scrolling through your feed. With a little bit of common sense, it’s easy to assess that most people’s lives are not perfect (can you think of anyone who truly has the ‘perfect life’?) and that they’re only showing you the most interesting and admirable aspects of it. Enjoy those fun feeds you like to follow, but keep in mind that it’s just a highlights reel, not the full picture.

Whether you’re worried about your weight, suffer from depression, or simply find yourself wanting things you don’t have – following social media accounts that make you feel worse about yourself isn’t going to help. Instead, find and follow accounts that share a positive message and encourage acceptance and diversity. Seek out accounts that make you feel heard, make you feel accepted, make you feel as though you’re not alone, and better yet, start following accounts that inspire you! You’ll be surprised just how quickly you start feeling better once you change what’s showing up in your newsfeed!

Speaking of changing what you see in your feed, if you’re finding yourself feeling worse after using social media, now is a great time to undertake a ‘digital cull’ of your friends lists and the accounts that you follow. Get rid of anything that makes you feel bad about yourself or makes you feel stressed or anxious (channel your inner Marie Kondo and ask yourself, “Does this account spark joy?”).

Unfollow the celebrity that’s always plugging the latest phony diet pills, and start following accounts that share positive messages about living a healthy lifestyle. Get rid of those accounts which focus on spreading negative or hurtful messages and start following the ones that make you laugh (dog videos, anyone!?). With a digital cleanout of your social media accounts, you’ll soon find a weight lifted from your shoulders.

One of the serious downsides to social media is that it’s a complete time-sucker. Open up your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat apps to begin scrolling, and before you know it, you have wasted half of your day. If you’re finding yourself glued to your phone, you might experience trouble focusing on other things, or even experience anxiety when you have spent more than a few minutes without checking your home screen for updates.  Nomophobia (“no-mobile-phone-phobia”) is also called “cell phone addiction.” Symptoms include experiencing anxiety when not being with your phone, and obsessively checking for missed calls, texts and emails. A recent poll on mobile device usage from ‘Common Sense Media’ found that 50 percent of teens said they “feel addicted” to their mobile devices.  Here is a great resoourcenkmycell.com/bogon/#chapter1 to read more about the harsh statistics and symptoms of cell phone addiction.

Although it can seem all-consuming and quite difficult to break the habit of checking your social media feeds constantly, it can actually be quite an easy habit to break, with a little practice.   Start by checking the amount of time you spend on each app on your phone, for example. Most smartphones will have features included in the settings which will show you just how long you’ve been spending on your phone and on each application. (You might want to sit down before taking a look at this – it can be a shocking figure!) Then, set yourself a daily and weekly goal for reducing your screen time until you eventually reach a limit that you’re comfortable with. If you find this particularly difficult (especially if you’re someone who’s grown up using a smartphone), be prepared with little screen-time break incentives. You might like to set yourself an alarm for 10 minutes, and when the alarm goes off, it’s time to put the phone down and go and take a short walk, or make yourself a cup of tea, or chat with a friend.

One of the BEST aspects of social media is that it helps to keep us all connected, even when we’re busy or away from home. Next time you’re browsing some seriously enviable holiday pictures from one of your favourite celebrity accounts, tag a friend in the comments and say, “This reminds me of our favourite beach. Let’s go next weekend?”. Use your social media accounts to bring your online and offline lives together.

Finally, if you’re experiencing negative side effects from your social media usage but aren’t quite sure how to tackle them, get some help. Seeing a counsellor can help you to understand exactly why it is that your social media accounts are impacting you the way they are. Your counsellor can also give you some real, actionable strategies for overcoming these side effects and breaking the hold that social media has over your life. Reach out to Integrated Health Specialists for more great strategies today.

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen