Let’s face it – social media is a great tool to have. We get information on what our family and friends are up to instantly, we have a way to keep in touch while travelling, and we have access to trends and news stories that we may otherwise not be aware of.
The other side to social media, however, is the copious amount of time one can spend on it without accomplishing much. Remember our post on disconnecting? Spending too much time on social media can lead to a comparison trap. For instance, if you’re trying to get fit, following fitness stars on Instagram may be a good idea to stay motivated… but what if it starts to actually bring you down? What we fail so often to realize, is that social media is only portraying the highlight reel of someone’s life. People don’t tweet the bad stuff – they’re not Instagramming the ugly parts of life. Raw, emotional posts are few and far between.
How does this impact our mental health?
On average, adults aged 18-64 spend 3.2 hours a day using social media (*1). This is reportedly even higher for young adults. That’s a big chunk of our day consuming portrayals of “perfect” days/weeks/vacations/bodies/workouts/food.
Which leads us to…
Several studies have shown that there may be a connection between social networking and depressive symptoms, a decrease of self-esteem, and other issues. Another study found there was a positive correlation between depressive symptoms and time spent on social networking sites (*2). Since we’re all spending an average of 3 hours or more on social media a day, this is a pretty significant finding.
If you’re someone who struggles with self-esteem or comparing yourself to others, taking a break from your social network of choice could help you re-evaluate what kind of content you’d like to see on your social media feed. This is really something that applies to all.
Are all the fitness pages you follow really that motivating? Or would a quote on how exercise fuels our bodies and keeps us healthy be a better option? Sometimes scrolling through a feed of chiseled abs and post-workout selfies isn’t what we really need in the moment.
Get creative with your choices on who to follow. Find pages that really inspire and uplift you. Follow users who make you laugh. Do your best to avoid a negative social environment. Working on creating a positive online environment and finding a balance for yourself is key!
Sources: *1 Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, 2013 / *2 Igor, 2014.
This post is contributed by Samantha Thayer, Online Outreach and Education Specialist from What’s Up, USANA?. For more information on health, feel free to visit their blog or find them on Twitter @USANAInc.