Effect of social media on our wellbeing

HealthEffect of social media on our wellbeing

By Dr Attia Anwar

Social media and its use is the reality of today. It has been quite some time since we have been using social media. People talk about its good and bad effects on mental health frequently.

   

The use of social media is almost a necessity and it has become an integral part of making connections and gaining knowledge in today’s global realities. We cannot blame social media for our mental health problems. It is the way it is being used, which is going to affect people. It can enhance social connection, increase the sense of belonging, and improve self-esteem. But if we start comparing ourselves to others, it can lead to increased stress, sadness, and isolation. Mindful use of social media is essential for its benefits.

People who generally use everything for comparison are going to face more comparisons in the presence of social media. Social comparison and stress associated with it is a centuries-old thing. The use of social media can just make it easier and you don’t have to try hard to see other people.  You can constantly compare yourself to others from the comfort of your home. But this is not social media, it is your mindset that is affecting you.

If social media will not be available you will find some other way to do that. It is a fact that people are not going to change their social media use by simply hearing it is bad for them. It is important that people should be educated about the use of social media. First of all full knowledge about social media along with its pros and cons should be provided, and then the person-centred or individualized approach should be used for correction.

Individual should see what their limits are, and how it is affecting them. They should monitor their behavior to see how its use impacts them. Then they should act accordingly. People usually say that their anxiety and imposter syndrome worsen when they are online. Imposter syndrome is when People fear that they will be exposed as frauds in terms of their success and intellect.

Anxiety is produced when they also start comparing their life with others through simple pictures, or posts not knowing the whole reality. People with anxiety disorders usually tell their therapist that whether it is someone’s bouquet or an exorbitant vacation, their mind always wanders “Why not me”. So if you notice that you feel unhappy after using social media or some emptiness encircles you after using it. Then you might consider using them in a different way. You can change the form of social media you use. You can reduce the use of social media and spend time in activities, you actually enjoy.

Social media is an excellent tool to improve social connections. Meaningful social connections are very good for your mental wellbeing. You can make the community opt for healthy habits. You can send good wishes. Positive and healthy messages can be sent through these platforms. You accept invitations for public events on social media. You join online communities with similar interests. Now social media is an integral part of connecting with family and friends. It has opened a new avenue of social experience. Social media can enhance peer support. It provides a space for discussion of health conditions, adverse life events, or everyday challenges. Through these discussions, a sense of belonging increases and stigmatization decreases. Rewarding social interaction, friendship, and humor can reduce stress levels and these factors should be meaningful and resonate with you. They should not be in competition with somebody else. For example, somebody has posted a beautiful quote, and instead of enjoying that, you try to find a better quote than that and post it. It is important whatever you post, it should resonate with you. There are many ways to live life, and there is no single right or wrong way. Our thinking and actions should match with each other. That shows the integrity of a person. And integrity is very important for your mental health. If you say something else, do another thing, and believe in a third thing. That will produce a war inside you against you. So we have to act in alignment with our principles. Social media can help us to understand our thinking if we use it in deliberate and mindful way.

Overall research shows that social media can enhance mental well-being by providing excellent resources for social interaction. However, we have to teach people about its use. Excessive use of social media can affect wellbeing in negative way. But it is quality, which is more important than quantity. So the way, you use social media is going to impact your mental health more than the amount of time you spend. If we teach people about social media literacy, we can maximize the chances of having meaningful, safe, and balanced experiences on these platforms.

The author Dr. Attia Anwar is a consultant family physician with a postgraduate degree from the Royal College of GP UK. She is a strong advocate of health and well-being and wants patient participation in decision-making regarding health.The author Dr. Attia Anwar is a consultant family physician with a postgraduate degree from the Royal College of GP UK. She is a strong advocate of health and well-being and wants patient participation in decision-making regarding health.

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