Thanks to Sarah from Hello Sarah Lou for writing this weeks guest post.
Is Social Media Affecting Our Mental Health?
According to a study published last month by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health, yes, it is. The survey, #StatusOfMind*, asked nearly 1500 people aged 14-24 to rate popular social media platforms based on issues such as depression, anxiety, body image, bullying and loneliness.
Out of the 5 social media sites evaluated, Instagram was found to have the most negative impact on users, with Snapchat coming in second, Facebook and finally Twitter. YouTube was the only platform with a net positive rating, however, it wasn’t much higher than the others.
Are we, as social media consumers, surprised with these results? As someone who often falls for the filtered image of perfection on Instagram, the results do not surprise me at all. My feed is constantly full of what modern society deems as “hashtag” lifestyle goals. Smoothie bowls on Sundays with the girls (give me Coco Pops any day!), gym selfies, green smoothies, overwhelming amounts of ‘candid’ photography (you know, the look at each other, laugh and pretend no one’s taking a photo, shot), active wear, booty pics, designer clothes, the latest weight loss trends, dog filters – the list goes on. With social media accessible 24/7, it’s all too easy to feel like you’re missing out or less worthy because someone has more ‘likes’ than you do.
I, myself, am guilty of uploading a ‘good’ photo, I’ll try my best to disguise the double chin that appears when I smile naturally. I will take several photos, trying every angle possible before I get the ‘perfect’ shot. It’s embarrassing to admit that but I guarantee you, I’m not the only one!
The unrealistic expectations set by social media are no doubt contributing to poorer mental wellbeing, especially in younger people. We are confronted with heavily edited photos and compare them with our seemingly ordinary lives. We strive for this so-called perfectionism presented to us in the form of photo-shopped images, glamorous lifestyles and perfectly curated feeds.
Social media shouldn’t be a negative experience. It’s a great way to keep in contact with people, stay up to date with news and events and bring awareness to issues in society. Here are some tips for creating a more positive experience on social media:
– Have an intention, stop the mindless scrolling. I know how easy it is to get caught up and find yourself looking at photos of your sister’s boyfriend’s best friend’s cousins’ 2012 holiday to Paris.
– Follow those who spread positivity and inspire you. Since blogging about my mental health, I have discovered a whole community of wonderful people who encourage each other to be authentic and real without judgement. Following like-minded people makes social media a much positive experience.
– Don’t feel obliged to be ‘friends’ with people you don’t want to connect online with. Keep people you value and want to stay in touch with. My friends list went from 700 to under 200 – it’s about quality not quantity. If deleting is not an option, remember there is the unfollow button!
– Limit your social media accounts, you don’t have to be active on all platforms. I recently deleted Snapchat because it didn’t add anything beneficial or positive to my day-to-day life.
Remember, our self-worth is not determined by how many followers we have or how many likes we get.
This weeks guest blog was written by Sarah Bryan from Hello Sarah Lou.
Sarah is a mental health blogger who lives in Melbourne with her partner and their two cats. Having struggled with mental illness her entire adult life, Sarah is passionate about sharing her experiences to help and inspire others.
Be sure to check out her blog and share some love! You can also find her on Facebook here.
If you would like to be a guest blogger for The Nut Factory click here for more details.