How to Use Social Media in a Healthy Way by Setting Boundaries
Social media has become a favorite pastime for many of us in past years, particularly during the pandemic’s closures and social isolation. But using social media excessively is often linked to mental health problems like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, feelings of being alone, and FOMO.
Therefore, setting social media boundaries can help you learn how to use social media in a healthy way and protect your well-being.
How Social Media Can Affect Mental Health
Millions of children, adolescents, and adults rely on social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat to socialize and connect with others. However, research shows that social media can impair your mental health.
The Negative Effects of Social Media
Excessive social media use can harm your mental health by making you feel lonely, lacking, anxious, or depressed. One study found that people who use social media too much tend to have mood swings and stop interacting with people in real life.
Learning how to use social media in a healthy way can help you balance your needs and keep your mind healthy.
1. Social Media Can Cause FOMO
Social media can amplify your fear of missing out (FOMO), leading you to believe that others have it better than you. The idea that you are missing out can trigger anxiety, depression, loneliness, and low self-esteem.
2. Social Media Can Crush Your Self-Esteem
Seeing other people’s perfect lives online can make you feel bad about yourself. Social media encourages us to filter every part of our lives in order to get validation. We also constantly compare our lives to those of others, which often look better, prettier, and happier. A constant need to compare ourselves to others can cause us to struggle with our sense of self-worth.
In one study, 60 percent of social media users said it hurt their self-esteem and made them feel like they were not good enough. Also, internal research by Facebook showed that the Instagram app causes body image issues in teenage girls, making them worse for one in three teen girls.
Also, the difference between how we present ourselves online and who we really are can make us feel sad, lonely, angry, and as if we don’t like ourselves.
3. Social Media Can Trigger Anxiety, Depression, and Hopelessness
Researchers have found that college students who use social media too much show signs of depression and social anxiety.
A study published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior found that people who use three or more social media platforms are three times more likely to have general anxiety symptoms like feeling scared, having trouble focusing, and having difficulty sleeping than people who use up to two platforms.
Also, one study shows that adolescents who spend more than three hours daily on social media are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and aggression.
In addition, social media can disrupt sleep patterns, aggravating depression and other mental health issues.
Does Social Media Have Any Positive Effects?
Even though online social interactions are not as beneficial to your mental health as face-to-face interaction, social media does have some positive effects.
During the pandemic, for example, social media apps have helped us stay in touch with our loved ones. Also, social media makes it easy to connect with people from all over the world who have the same interests and values as you do.
In addition, it offers a platform to share and express your creativity and opinions, learn valuable information, and make new friends.
Lastly, social media can help you promote your business or brand and grow it.
What Drives Us to Keep Using Social Media?
According to some surveys, almost 3 billion people use social media every day. Most of us use it to connect with friends and family, find information, and promote our businesses.
Also, research shows that social media use stimulates the production of the “feel good” hormone dopamine and “the love chemical” oxytocin, making us crave more social media time.
How to Use Social Media in a Healthy Way
Here are five tips on how to use social media in a healthy way. That will help you find a balance in how much you use it.
Use Apps to Track Your Daily Habits
You can limit your social media use by downloading an app that monitors how long you spend on social media daily. You might be surprised by how much time you actually spend scrolling.
Make Time Each Day to Put Your Phone Away (and Leave It There)
Set aside time every day to get away from your phone. Try something else, like reading a book, going for a walk, or practicing mindfulness. Taking a break from your devices can help your mood, reduce stress, and improve your mental health.
Make Your Bed/Bedroom a Social Media-Free Zone
Your body can’t make the hormone melatonin, which helps you fall asleep when it’s exposed to artificial light from devices. So, avoid taking your phone to bed with you and opt for reading a book if you need to keep your mind occupied before falling asleep.
Limit Yourself from Compulsively Checking Your Accounts
Most of us can help check our inboxes while doing other things throughout the day. We check our social media countless times a day. And many of us become anxious and uncomfortable if we cannot access our accounts for whatever reason.
So, try mindfully observing how many times per day you reach for your phone to check your accounts and then stop yourself. Or make a plan, such as checking your account only three times a day.
Remove Some Social Apps from Your Phone
If you remove some apps from your phone that you haven’t used in a while, you can reduce your social media usage.
Changing Your Relationship with Social Media for the Better
It can be difficult to avoid social media altogether these days. However, changing your relationship with social media can have long-term positive effects.
For example, limiting your social media use can give you more free time to focus on yourself and your needs.
In addition, it can make you want to spend more time with friends and family in person, take part in outdoor activities, or try new hobbies in real life – all of which contribute to good mental health.
If you find yourself routinely stuck in comparison mode, you may want to check in and see if you may need support.