How social media impacts my mental health

Just when I think I’ve come to accept the consequences of the digital age within which we live, something triggers my anxiety and I come crashing off the metaphorical wagon.

For all its wonderful benefits, the Internet can have an undoubtably negative impact on our mental health.

Much like many of the things around us though, the more we can understand why and how social media leads us to panic, anxiety and depression, the better we can try to control it when it happens.

For myself and so many others, I don’t just use social media to ‘socialise’. Instead, it’s my job, my support network and so often my lifeline.

In a single day, I can keep in touch with my family, have money wired to me when my bank card fails and share photographs from my travels abroad. In the same day though, I can read comments from Internet trolls, misinterpret sub-tweets from friends and receive negative emails (usually relating to money worries).

More recently, I’ve threatened to ban laptops from the bedroom in a small attempt to hide from the constant social media onslaught. I didn’t actually realise it was a threat until seeing the fearful reaction of my boyfriend; who quickly reassured me we’d still have our iPhones on us.

So like the frustrating friend who you can’t quite shake, we remain attached to our digital devices 24/7.

Much like that same friend though, social media has its immeasurable uses. And while it can often effect us negatively, it can bring positivity into our lives too.

For me, it’s the pressure to always be on the pulse that’s so crippling. Beyond today’s expected levels of FOMO, social media demands us to know everything and everyone before it’s even share on our feeds.

To win the Internet, you must beat the Internet.

Or so it seems.

I’m no stranger to posting a selfie when I feel sad or even scrolling through my Instagram feed to see just how many people appear to be having a much better time than me.

And I’m not alone, it seems. Previous studies – such as this by the National Citizen Service – have found that many girls seek comfort on social media when they are worried, rather than talking to parents.

Personally, I think things have become much worse than the pressure to be perfect. That same pressure to be carefree and impulsive is just as damaging, when so many of us feel the need to prove we’re not living by the demands of social media.

I don’t think we can look to phase social media out of our lives – after all, it’s how we share our blogs and podcasts with you – but be mindful of how we use it.

Start small, like trying to remember that filters are the name of the game on Instagram and Twitter can encourage people to type before they speak. Don’t be afraid to unfollow negative feeds or block bullies. This actually seems to be such an unspoken idea but if someone is bringing bad vibes onto your social media platforms, why continue to follow them?

Most importantly, try to remember that what happens on the Internet, doesn’t stay on the Internet. Our actions online have huge ramifications in real life too, which extends to being able to speak to someone if you’re struggling to cope with the pressures online.

Don’t Fret Track: Right now I’m hooked on Luca Brasi – Count Me Out

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