By Kenya Foy.
o your social media feeds have you feeling down and like less than your typically fabulous self? It may be time to take a step back from the web and completely disconnect. A telltale sign that social media is screwing with your mental health is when what you absorb online begins to negatively impact how you feel in IRL. That much you probably know — but how does social media overdose look in real life?
Whether your preferred platform is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, or a combination of all of them them, there’s plenty of evidence to support the fact that social media has the potential to damage mental health. Sure, science links selfie-snapping to happiness, but many of us are paying a heavy price when it comes to curating all those picture perfect images for followers, many whom we may never even get to know in reality.
Obviously, there are positive aspects to engaging online, but it’s also extremely important to recognize the signs that social media may be effing with your mental health.
1 You feel sad, stressed, drained, or depressed after being online.
After scrolling through all your feeds, you might feel overwhelmed by a profound sense of sadness, envy, frustration or an intense loneliness that you can’t quite explain. However, it isn’t all in your head. Multiple studies and research have found a direct correlation between your mental health and social media use, including symptoms such as depression and lower self-esteem.
2 You struggle to define your own goals.
You had solid plan to reach a particular goal — until you logged on. Now you can’t decide whether you want to build a brand, become a blogger, a musician, a photographer, or all of the above. And by the way, all of these career moves should’ve happened, like, yesterday according to what you’re picking up from the TL.
You had at least a semblance of direction before you checked out your Twitter feed, but now your brain is all bogged down to the point that you can’t separate your aspirations and plans from those of your online friends.
3 You constantly play the comparison game.
Not that we needed the confirmation, but there’s scientific proof that comparing yourself to your Facebook friends is harmful to your mental health. There are a million reasons why we compare ourselves on social media, but no matter the cause, it’s a dangerous trap that many of us fall into. At some point, it becomes almost second nature to see someone else’s post or photo and immediately begin a mental rundown of how you do or don’t measure up to them.
Suddenly, whatever interesting/thrilling/inspiring activity they post online makes your life look like a total snoozefest with zero purpose. What’s worse is we tend to completely disregard the fact that people (including ourselves) intentionally curate the best images of themselves and their lives, and that #nofilter hashtag simply may not be truthful.
4 You feel guilty about what you share.
Oopsies, you totally overshared or kinda sorta fudged the truth about that time you… Well, it’s out there for everyone to see so no need to go into detail. Either way, if sharing your world online is causing you to feel guilty or anxious, maybe consider scaling back and editing to only post things that make you feel positive and uplifted.
5 When you spend the majority of your time online.
If you can’t disengage yourself from social media to be an active participant in your real life, social media can definitely take a toll on your mental health. Researchers have discovered that people who self-reported more social media use have higher self-reports of depression. Additionally, studies found a link between loneliness and increased Facebook use among first-year college students.
6 When you rely on likes, follows, or frequent engagement from others to boost your confidence.
If someone you admire doesn’t like your post, you feel down in the dumps, and when you share a really cool photo that doesn’t earn a ton of likes, you find yourself questioning why you even posted it in the first place. Does anything you think/do/say/feel/like even matter?!
7 When you do EVERYTHING with social media in mind.
You can’t enjoy a meal without thinking about how the lighting will look in a photo, every moment is a missed opportunity to frame for social media, and you’d prefer it if you spent the rest of your life communicating with people online instead of IRL. Ever again.
8When your social media starts to negatively affect your diet and body image.
According to experts, eating poorly can be an effect of social media use. Between the abundance of online detoxing trends, dieting crazes, and the barrage of photos of from your favorite Instagram fitness star, many are placing an incredible amount of pressure on themselves to mimic the #fitspo lifestyles they see online, going to dangerous extremes that lead to body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and overall body image insecurities.
Social media can be a great tool to connect with like-minded people, share your life and stay on top of trends, but if it becomes too overwhelming, prioritize your mental health by giving yourself permission to disconnect and detox.