Most of us use social media regularly. In 2022, 82% of the U.S. population described themselves as currently using social media. It’s accepted as a standard practice and constantly at our fingertips thanks to our mobile phones. However, in the last few years, there’s been a shift in the conversation about social media’s effects on self-esteem and mental health.
It’s become increasingly clear that social media can sometimes do more harm than good. If you think you fall into the category of people who are negatively impacted by social media, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage and protect your mental health.
Social Media Effects on Self-Esteem and Mental Health
So, does social media affect the self-esteem and mental health of people? The short answer is yes, it does.
There are several ways social media harms your life and mental health.
Social media is created in a way to manipulate users. These platforms give users a minor hit of dopamine when specific actions are performed, such as when you receive a message, a friend request or a like on your content. This is teaching your brain’s pleasure center that you can get small bursts of dopamine released when you’re on social media. As a result, you keep using social media more and more to get more dopamine, and it becomes an addiction.
There’s a clear connection between social media use and increased anxiety. Social media can make us feel inadequate, instill feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) and spark dissatisfaction with our own lives. In turn, a person might finish their social media scrolling and feel incredibly anxious and upset without knowing why.
People post their best moments and their best angles on social media. When you go through your feed, it might feel like everyone looks like a supermodel, goes on endless vacations and buys designer items. However, you’re getting a carefully curated glimpse into people’s lives, not the complete picture.
Still, this constant barrage of perfect-seeming people can make you feel worse about yourself and your life. Endless social media scrolling can worsen self-esteem as you compare yourself to what you see online.
Increased Isolation and Depression
Often, social media can give the perception that we have a wider social circle because we’re automatically connected to more people. In reality, today’s teenagers are spending less time being social in person than teenagers who grow up in the 80s and 90s.
Additionally, many people turn to social media when they’re lonely for comfort. But it often has the opposite effect and makes people feel lonelier.
This is because we tend to consume videos, pictures and updates about people’s lives without interacting with them, which offers a false sense of connection.
Studies have shown that increased use of social media is strongly correlated with worse sleep. Various factors may contribute, from blue light causing sleeplessness to the negative feelings that scrolling media can bring up for a person. Poor sleep can lead to increased stress and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety in the long term.
Six Ways to Reduce Social Media’s Effects on Self-Esteem and Mental Health
We’ve established that social media can seriously damage your mental health. The good news is that you have the power to take back your mental health from these accounts. Here are some easy, actionable ways you can limit the impact social media has on you:
1. Recognize the Impact
As you know by now, social media’s influence on mental health includes comparison, unrealistic standards and constant exposure to polished lives. Try to always be aware of these facts as you scroll through your accounts. Remind yourself that people on social media:
- Use filters
- Post in angles or clothes that make them appear better than they are
- Can be posting endless vacations but be in massive credit card debt
- Can constantly be posting working out when that’s their full-time job
- Aren’t showing you the hard parts of their day
2. Mindful Consumption
You must always be mindful of your social media usage. You know social media has harmful consequences, so you should practice conscious consumption. Some of the ways you can do this are:
- Setting boundaries, such as only allowing yourself to scroll social media for 30 minutes a day
- Limiting exposure to triggering content by blocking accounts you don’t want to see
- Taking occasional social media cleanses where you delete all apps from your phone
3. Curate Your Feed
Consider curating your social media feed by following accounts that promote positivity, inspiration and mental well-being.
You can also delete the accounts of celebrities, stores and influencers from your feed. If you only follow close friends, social media might become slightly more realistic.
If you encounter a post that instills any negative emotion, immediately unfollow that account.
4. Engage Authentically
The intention behind social media was to connect users to have meaningful, positive interactions. When using social media, keep this in mind and focus on engaging authentically with others. Don’t just sit there and scroll. Try to interact with your friends by starting conversations and leaving positive messages.
5. Balance Online and Offline Life
Remember that balancing social media usage with real-life experiences, hobbies and self-care activities is crucial to promote overall mental well-being.
- Don’t just interact with friends online. Reach out to them and make plans to see them in person or have a call to catch up with each other.
- If you see an interesting hobby online, instead of watching videos of someone doing it, try taking it up yourself.
- If you see something you like on social media, such as a recipe or travel destination, use it as inspiration. Start planning a trip or trying out the recipe. Don’t just consume; act!
6. Recognize When You Need Help
If the effects of social media on your self-esteem have already been incredibly harmful, it might be time to consider professional help. You don’t have to live with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions. Professional treatment can help you get back to living your best life today.
Restore Mental Health
The dedicated staff at Restore Mental Health has experience helping patients with various mental health conditions. Regardless of how social media is impacting you, we can help. Life gets better when you get treatment and learn coping mechanisms. Contact us today to hear about how we can help you ditch that social media mental health fog.