The original purpose of social media is to connect us, and yet for many women, looking in on others’ lives can leave us feeling inferior, jealous, isolated, or dissatisfied. So how can we put all these posts and pictures in perspective when we seem to get discouraged by them? There’s been quite a bit of research done on how social media affects us psychologically and emotionally. Here are a few tips to help you if you find that it’s dragging you down:
1. Be Intentional & Interact Directly
Studies have shown that always consuming, or simply binge reading and looking at picture after picture online can negatively impact you. I encourage you to instead intentionally research, seek out information, and connect with people in your life. Engage more and be purposeful; don’t just mindlessly scroll through your feed to fill time.
2. Watch Your Envy Meter
An interesting bit of research suggests that it’s not actually Facebook that can lower our mood, it’s the feelings of envy we sometimes experience when using it (or other platforms). In order to combat this, be mindful of your emotions, and take notice if you feel envy creeping up. When you start wishing you had the perfect house, car, body, or boyfriend that you see someone else has, then it’s time to take a break and put things in perspective. No need to fuel those feelings of jealousy, so turn it off, and go do something else.
3. Nurture Face-To-Face Relationships
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by social media, I truly believe that the healthiest solution to is to augment your face-to-face relationships. There’s no substitute for the voice, the physical touch, and being together in the same physical setting. It simply cannot be replaced. A study on depression showed that people with depressive symptoms found both digital and face-to-face support to be helpful in lifting their spirits, but that face-to-face interaction had a much greater positive impact. So get offline, seek out close friends, and spend time together in real life!
4. Promote Positive and Share Good
Another way to fight the gloomy feelings that sometimes accompany social media usage is to actively fight negativity and cynicism by intentionally being positive and sharing uplifting content. From my perspective, there are enough debates (and even arguments) via the web, so why not encourage and inspire others with your words and posts? I’m not sure we realize how much we impact other people. You don’t have to be fake or discount pain or suffering, but consider ways that you can bring more joy, light, and hope to others online. Emotions are contagious, so do your part to spread good ones!
5. Use Moderately when Stressed
There are certain times when our self-esteem is more fragile, when we’re feeling more vulnerable or sensitive. In these cases, it might be good for you to unplug or disconnect for a day or two. We are constantly bombarded with new information, pictures, updates, etc., and sometimes it gets to be too much. If you’re feeling particularly susceptible to jealousy about your friend’s new apartment or feeling like you can’t keep up what what’s trending on Twitter, then take a break! The wonderful thing about social media is that we get to be in charge of how and how often we use it. We can tweak it to serve our emotional needs.