In the digital age, social media has become an integral part of our lives. It’s a place to connect with family, friends, and coworkers; to be informed, to find entertainment, to meet new people. But how much is too much? As more and more of us turn to our phones and the internet for support and validation, what are the implications of such a heavy focus on social media for our mental health and wellbeing? In this article, we discuss the risks and benefits of social media, offering tips to help people navigate the digital age with their mental health intact.
1) ‘Navigating the Digital Age’: Social Media and Mental Health
In this digital age where a majority of us are actively engaging with social media, it is important to understand the implications that this technologically-driven environment has on our mental health. The potential upsides and downsides of our online presence must be carefully weighed and navigated if we are to keep our sanity in check.
The digital world has become a hot spot for comparison and competition. Keeping up to date with the latest trends, having a steady post count and getting lots of ‘likes’ has become a source of self-validation for many. There is, therefore, a great pressure imposed on us to achieve a certain level of visibility and status. This is just the tip of an iceberg that includes cyber-bullying, the spread of false information, and extensive trolling. It is, therefore, no surprise that spending too much time on social media has been linked to an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Despite the potential for negative consequences, social media also has the capacity to bring immense positivity. It serves as a platform for communicating and sharing ideas, bringing people together from near and far. Mental health stories of real survivors shared on social media can spark conversations in support.
- Tips for maintaining healthy online habits
- Set a limit: How much time you spend on social media each day is highly beneficial to know. The scroll can be too tempting and this limit will help you to pace yourself and be mindful of what you’re doing.
- Take time off the grid: Carve out some space for yourself and spend some quality time offline. Read a book, go for a walk in nature or take some time to meditate.
- Surround yourself with positive influences:Filling your newsfeed with sources of positivity — inspirational quotes, artwork, articles, stories — can help you to keep a healthier and happier perspective of yourself and the world around you.
Social media, if used in a responsible manner, can serve as a valuable tool. Mindful online habits can lead to a hopefully healthier and less worrisome mental state.
2) Coping Strategies for the Information Overload
Information overload can feel overwhelming and even paralyzing. There are a few key coping strategies that will enable you to move through it.
1. Set limits
Information runs rampant online and you may be tempted to continuously check social media, skim more headlines, and read the emails that pile up in your inbox. To gain control over the information overload, establish limits for yourself. Decide on an acceptable amount of time to spend browsing and set an alarm to indicate when it’s time to log out. It may also help to create convenient boundaries, like only checking in on emails or social media during designated timeslots.
2. Implement the 50/10 strategy
This method, as the name implies, has you work for 50 minutes uninterrupted followed by a 10 minute break. During the 50-minute period, keep any distractions to a minimum and focus on the work you’re doing. During the 10 minute break, indulge in any news you might want to catch up on. This method allows for balance between productivity and consumption.
Go through your sources of information and prioritize which ones bring you the most value. You do not have to access every piece of information that comes your way. Select a few reliable sources that offer you the most pertinent information and stick to those. This will save you time and energy, making it easier to get through the data.
4. Dial in control
If you’re trying to manage the flow of data, explore technologies like Feedly, an RSS reader. This is a great way to set up, organize, and control your incoming information. You can curate what is available and view everything in one place.
5. Deep dive
Instead of skimming headlines, take some time to really dive into topics that interest you. This will lead to a deeper understanding of different topics, as opposed to scattering your attention with numerous news updates. Choose the information that you engage with wisely and take the time to really process it.
3) Can Positive Engagement Reduce Stress?
Positive engagement can have a tremendous impact on reducing stress. When we are feeling overwhelmed, taking the time to focus on something positive – like playing with our pet, doing something we enjoy, or even just spending time engaging with a friend – can sometimes be an effective stress reliever.
Engaging in a positive activity that we enjoy not only gets our mind off of our worries, it also releases endorphins that make us feel better emotionally and physically. Plus, engaging in a positive activity can serve as a break from the cycle of stress and its associated symptoms – such as headaches, insomnia, and fatigue.
In addition, activities that involve positive or creative forms of mental stimulation can help reduce stress in a number of ways:
- Improving our problem solving skills
- Boosting our confidence
- Decreasing levels of anxiety and depression
Not only does participating in a positive activity provide us with immediate relief from stress, it also provides us with a way to cope with stress in the future. We can often find ways to work through our stressors when we approach them with a positive mindset, and engaging in a positive activity can help remind us how to do just that.
Finally, engaging with people who are positive and uplifting can also help us keep stress at bay. When we surround ourselves with positive people, we can find it easier to take a break from our worries and enjoy the moment. Additionally, the support we receive from positive people can give us the motivation we need to view problems from a different perspective and work towards solutions.
4) Steering Clear of the Negative Effects of Social Media
Social media is a blessing and a curse. But with the right attitude, careful engagement, and understanding of the potential pitfalls of this double-edged sword, you can keep the negative results of social media to a minimum.
Social media has taken over our lives. It’s easy to spend all of our time engaging in our online world, but that can blur the boundary between our real life and our virtual lives. Set a limit on how much time you’ll spend using social media each day and stick to it. Doing so can help us to be more productive, well-rested, and engaged in the present moment.
No need to be at the mercy of notifications and ping notifications. Manage when and how often notifications are coming at you, as it can seem overwhelming when these come piling in.
Develop Real Social Connections
Social media can be a great tool to stay connected with people, however, it can also isolate us from the real social connections that draw us out of the house. Challenge yourself to stay connected with people in-person. Developing these real social connections can lead to a stronger sense of self-confidence, trust, and self-worth.
Don’t Believe Everything You See
When using social media, it’s easy to forget that the glossy and glamorous images we’re presented with on the screen may not be as picture perfect as they seem. Not everybody lives the life they portray on their social media account, so it’s important to practice mindfulness when comparing our lives to the lives of those on social media. Don’t let envy or pressure force you into feeling inadequate.
As we navigate the digital age where social media is increasingly becoming entrenched in our lives, it is important to recognize the importance of digital self-care. Taking the time to understand and protect our mental well-being as we tour this new landscape is key to maintaining a healthy balance of presence and mindfulness, online and off.