We live in a world where people are more connected to one another than ever before in humankind’s history – thanks to the rise of social media. And it would be no exaggeration to say that most of us cannot imagine a life without a popular social media networking site.
On average, an ordinary person spends 142 minutes on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These sites are also essentials tools for entertainment and communication.
However, the question “can social media cause anxiety” or other mental health problems is also bothering an increasing number of people and mental health experts alike.
According to experts, while social media sites have their benefits, frequent use of such sites can lead to feelings of unhappiness and isolation. It can also fuel feelings of depression and fear of missing out or FOMO.
HERE ARE SOME WAYS SOCIAL MEDIA CAN HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON YOUR ANXIETY AND OTHER MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
Each one of us is unique and beautiful the way we are. However, most of us tend to forget this and tend to think differently. Many people find it difficult to accept their flaws and physical imperfections, for that matter. This results in suffering from anxiety.
And social media makes matters only worse. When you look at photos of models with near-perfect physique, skin, and ultimate style, you instantly begin to compare yourself to them. This leads to feelings of inadequacy and misery because you feel like you are not a beautiful, smart, wealthy, and successful person.
You must understand that most of the people you see on these sites look different in real life. Many of them use photo editing tools like Photoshop and Light Room to make their waists look smaller and make their skin look smoother.
Therefore, you are only doing a disservice to your mental stability by comparing yourself to airbrushed photos of someone having the perfect body and skin tone and enjoying a holiday at a beach.
ANXIETY OF BEING JUDGED
Irrespective of how independent you think you might be, you still are concerned about what others think about you. Therefore, when you post a photo of yourself in a swimsuit, you expect someone to comment on your photo, saying how awesome you look. When you get no flattering comments after waiting for hours, you start to have a feeling of anxiety after posting on social media, whatever that site may be.
You begin to doubt whether you look good enough or not. You even wonder what your family members might think of you sharing such photos online.
With every image you post online, you start to feel more uncomfortable. At times, you might even experience a fear of posting on social media as you think you will be judged.
To stop this, you must teach yourself to deal with negative comments and be independent of others’ thoughts. Do not take negative comments to heart and mark them as spam or send them to trash as they are not worth your attention.
FEAR OF MISSING OUT (FOMO)
Fear of missing out or FOMO has been around much longer than social media. But, it would be only fair to say that social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and others have made matters only worse.
While you are scrolling through one such platform, you continuously get a feeling that others are having a great time while you are at your home having no fun at all.
This feeling that you are constantly missing out on things can adversely affect your self-esteem, cause anxiety, and even lead to greater usage of these sites.
This can result in you checking your phone every few minutes for the latest update and compulsively replying to each alert.
This habit can become dangerous overtime as you feel like you have to reply to almost everything, even while you are driving, missing out on quality sleep, and giving priority to social media interaction over real-world ones.
This is another classic example of how social media feeds people’s anxieties. It constructs a reality that makes people set unattainable and unrealistic goals for themselves, which ultimately leads to anxiety.
For example, let’s say that you are following a fitness trainer named Ron. He posts pictures of clean eating, which motivates you to do the same. You stick to the same diet and portions, although they are insufficient for you.
However, after a few weeks, you start feeling hungry, frustrated, and anxious as you cannot understand why Ron can stick to his diet and stay happy, but you are unable to do so.
The reality which you need to keep in mind is that even Ron cannot always stick to his diet and goes out for the occasional pizza. He just doesn’t post these pictures.
So, you must be realistic in your approach while setting goals for yourself. Setting unachievable goals by watching or following anyone on a social media site can exacerbate your anxiety.
ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION FROM PRIORITISING SOCIAL MEDIA INTERACTION
To be mentally healthy, we humans need face-to-face contact. It improves your mood and reduces stress when you have eye-to-eye contact with someone who cares for you.
Suppose you priorities social media interactions, as we have seen under FOMO, over in-person relationships. In that case, the risk of you developing serious mood disorders increases drastically and results in depression and anxiety due to social media.
Try to break the chains of social media and interact more with your friends and family in real life. It will take away any feelings of loneliness and will also contribute to your overall mental well-being.
BECOMING ADDICTED TO SOCIAL MEDIA
If you are still wondering, “How does social media cause anxiety,” then you must pay special attention to this part.
According to medical professionals, we should avoid using mobile devices at least 1 hour before we go to sleep and at least half an hour after waking up. But most of us don’t follow these rules and suffer from anxiety.
But why do most youngsters find it hard to do so?
The answer is simple – they become addicted to various social media platforms and stay awake till late at night to check the latest posts and updates. Moreover, new content on social media appears every minute, which feeds this addiction and makes it difficult to shut our phones and go to sleep.
Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that they have this addiction. A person might check his/her phone anywhere between 12 minutes to 80 times a day. This acts as a distraction from their main activities, which ultimately results in anxiety.
Hence, if you are really serious about your mental health, it is imperative that you change or control the time you spend online. It’s not worth it to substitute your real world with a virtual world.
Can social media cause anxiety?
It would do no good to anyone reading this blog if the answer were a simple NO.
Social media can cause anxiety only if our dependence on them becomes too much.
It is important to remember that there are many benefits to social media as well.
However, getting hooked on them can negatively affect your mental health and feed feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety.