The impacts of social media on mental health
Tags: Mental health
As a « 90’s », I feel very lucky for growing up in an environment barely without internet or smartphones.
However, this didn’t prevent me from being a victim of social media later on, as an adult.
In this article, I will share with you which were the impacts of social media on my mental health and which were the steps to attenuate the effects.
How it all started
To be honest, I’ve never been a social media fanatic. So of course, I had my Facebook and Twitter period where I posted daily some random stuff.
But I soon realized that sharing my thoughts about the weather on the internet wasn’t going to bring me anything.
Then arrived Instagram, the app standing out from the crowd with its squared and filtered images, that everyone was using without even knowing why (basically as all apps at the beginning) and that no one expected to grow as big as it did a decade later.
In the meantime, Instagram and my interest in fitness happened simultaneously.
I would even say that the app actually had me discover what muscular women looked like and had me want to look like them, which is pretty good knowing that lifting weights is still one of my passions today!
In this way, Instagram has first and foremost had a positive impact on my mental and physical health.
However, the years passed by and just as my fitness passion, Instagram evolved tremendously, which had me discover a lot of fitness models and bodybuilders accounts.
At some point, my Instagram feed was basically full of people sharing their awesome bodies.
What I thought was going to be a source of motivation to train harder actually converted into a pressure I was putting on myself on a daily basis, without even realizing it.
Scroll, scroll, scroll, until…
Every day I found myself unconsciously comparing myself to people who didn’t have the same journey, needs nor lifestyle as I did.
But because I was hoping to look like what I considered as #bodygoals back then, I literally started reproducing the lifestyle of these people I was following on social media.
Well, let me tell you that this was a huge mistake!
I’ve been going from an extreme to another in terms of training (long sessions without having enough rest) and in terms of nutrition (following low calorie diets and totally banning some group foods), which made me go through eating disorders (I talk more in details about it in this article).
1. Realize that social media isn’t a fair representation of reality
Keep in mind that most of the time, people only post the highlights of their lives.
Unfortunately, too few people talk about the eating disorder behind their six-pack.
Too few people talk about their acne lying under their makeup or snapchat filters.
Too few people talk about the toxic relationships hiding behind the perfect looking couple or friendship pictures.
2. Limit your content consumption
Do you know how much time you spend daily on social media? If not, I highly recommend you to take a look at your statistics, you might be surprised!
If you are a person scrolling several hours a day, ask yourself if the time devoted to your favorite platforms is truly benefitting you. Think at how this time could be invested in your loved ones, your mental health or in working towards your dreams.
Personally, I try to avoid using my smartphone as soon as I wake up, while eating my meals and when accompanied by my loved ones.
Since then, I enjoy a lot more the present moment by concentrating all my attention to myself as soon as I wake up, by practicing mindful eating and by spending quality time with my friends and family.
3. Clear your Instagram account out
Another way to limit my content consumption has been to lighten my Instagram account by unfollowing a good amount of people; less content means less time to spend on the app.
Make sure you follow accounts that inspire you or people who you are very close to.
Unfollow accounts that you don’t identify with, people who make you question your worth or that you follow back out of “courtesy”.
Not following back or unfollowing people doesn’t (necessarily) mean you don’t appreciate them in real life!
4. Post mindful content
Finally, if I want to inspire you to consume content fitting your values, I also would like to inspire you to post content for the right reasons.
If a post is intended to prove something to yourself or to others, to be noticed by a particular person or to expect a certain amount of likes in return, then you might be using social media for the wrong reasons and could suffer from it.
I encourage you to post with the aim of sharing, inspiring and/or informing.
Do you feel pressured by social media? Let me know in the comments your tips on how to consume online content whilst keeping your sanity! Or come chat with me about this topic on Instagram @vlourish.