Why Consuming Too Much Social Media Can Hurt Your Health

Most of us are on some form of social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even LinkedIn. Social media can be a great tool for both personal and professional use. But sometimes, consuming too much of it can affect our mental health.

I’ve been on social media for a whole decade. I remember when I first joined Facebook, it was the coolest new thing and as the years went on, I would check it almost everyday. Nowadays, I don’t check it as often, but I definitely check other social media sites like Twitter and Instagram on a daily basis. Almost a year ago, this habit started to really affect me and I went through a period of time where I wasn’t feeling satisfied in life and social media worsened it. I had just graduated university and was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I know being in your early 20s is a time when it’s okay if you don't know the answer to that, but when you see people your age on social media knowing exactly what they’re doing in their life and doing it really well on a daily basis, it makes you question yourself.

From fancy cars, to exotic travel destinations, to having thousands of followers for posting makeup tutorials, seeing the best part of other people’s lives can definitely take a toll on your mental health. But when that starts to happen, you can take some time off from the sites to help or you can refuse to let it have so much power over you and understand why it’s happening. Here are some things to think about when it happens:

1) Social media is normally used to showcase the best parts of someone’s life

When was the last time you saw someone post something on Instagram about laying in bed and feeling sad or crying over a breakup? Probably not yesterday or the day before that. That’s because social media is a way for most people to showcase the best parts of their lives. Why would anyone want people they barely know to know that they’re having bad days or their lives aren’t going so well? Unless you’re in that person’s life physically, you probably don’t know half of the things they have gone through or are going through. It doesn't even matter if that person is Kylie Jenner or Beyoncé, everyone is fighting their own battles. They’re just not always on display for us to see alongside the good things.

2) Everyone has different paths and goals in life

Seeing so many people on social media and people you know being successful can really take its toll on you, especially if you’re not in a good place yourself. But it’s important to remember that comparing yourself to others is pointless because you’re probably not going to go in the exact same direction or path they are taking. Just because they’re succeeding in the beauty or business industry for example, doesn’t mean you have to as well. You can, if that’s what you really want to succeed in. But chances are you probably don’t have the same interests, you just want the same results and benefits they get out of it. Instead, find something that you love to do and actually think you have a chance of succeeding in and strive for that. Then you can show that off on social media if you feel like.

3) Don't let social media stop you from living your life

A few months ago I found myself taking my phone out to Snapchat whenever anything interesting was happening in my life. Once I realized that this was abstaining me from actually taking in life with my own eyes instead of through a screen, I stopped doing it as much. I became more self-aware. Realizing these little things is a big part of not letting social media affect your mental health. Nowadays, I’ll record or take photos of things that are really interesting, but try to keep it to a few seconds and short enough so that it doesn’t annoy anyone around me.

There are many ways to not let social media affect your mental health, but the biggest way you can prevent it from happening is being fully aware that it can have an effect. As soon as it starts affecting you in a negative way, whether it’s making your rethink your decisions, lifestyle or giving you bad thoughts, you need to take a step back. I think one of the main reasons so many people suffer from depression today has to do with the fact that they can see how much worse their lives are compared to others.

A study published online in Computers in Human Behavior on December 10, 2016, found that the use of multiple social media platforms is more strongly associated with depression and anxiety among young adults than time spent online. Imagine living 20-30 years ago when the Internet didn’t even exist. No one knew what everyone they’ve ever met in their lives were doing or how they were doing. They just went about living their lives and occasionally checking in on others. While it’s almost impossible to do that now (unless you have no social media presence), there are ways to control it and find a balance. With technology becoming more prevalent and more social media sites popping up, taking our mental health into consideration when it comes to these tools has never been more important.