Social media allows us to get a glimpse into the lives of so many people. Unfortunately, constant updates about people’s vacations, weddings, job offers, graduations and newborns don’t always fill us with joy. In fact, being inundated with everyone else’s highlight reel can damage our mental health. Many studies have shown a link between social media use and low self-esteem. For example, a study published this year found that one hour spent on Facebook is associated with a decrease in an individual’s self-esteem score, which authors say is influenced by the social comparisons that people engage in.
But there are ways to be mindful of your social media use so that you can protect your self-esteem.
Limit your use of social media
As the study above indicates, just one hour spent on Facebook can make you value yourself less. In addition, the more time you spend on social media, the more your self-esteem is impacted. These decreases in self-esteem are also greater for girls than boys. Limiting how much time you spend on social media could, therefore, lead to improvements in mental health.
Also, it may be worth limiting your use of particular social media accounts more than others. A survey of teens and adults found that Instagram usage had the worse mental health outcomes in terms of low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and body image. YouTube, on the other hand, is associated with positive mental health effects.
Although these sorts of studies don’t tend to look at LinkedIn, my own personal experience has been that it’s sometimes negatively affected my self-esteem. After all, the platform updates you with people’s promotions and allows you to scroll through the profiles of all your alumni and view their job titles and the companies they work for. This can encourage you to compare your career to others’.
Use the News Feed Eradicator for Facebook
There’s no need to delete your Facebook if you want to get away from unhealthy social comparisons. Instead, you can download the News Feed Eradicator, an extension for your browser which replaces your news feed with inspirational quotes. Since the news feed fosters social comparisons, and is responsible for so much social media usage, using this tool could prove to be hugely beneficial. It can allow you to enjoy the benefits of Facebook – such as staying in touch with friends and finding out about local events – while avoiding the site’s more negative aspects.
Take a break
It can sometimes be helpful to take a break from social media, without resorting to deleting all of your accounts. After unplugging for a while, you may become aware of just how much social media was impacting your mental health and your self-esteem. When you return, approach these platforms mindfully, paying attention to how your activity changes how you feel about yourself. When you fully notice, for yourself, how chasing likes and scrolling the news feed affects your self-esteem, then you’re in a better position to change your habits.
Recognise the highlight reel phenomenon
We’re all guilty of creating a highlight reel on social media, myself included. We post updates and photos of amazing travel experiences, rather than our struggles to get out of bed because our depressive symptoms are in full swing. What we see on social media is a narrow, unrealistic and tailored picture of other people’s lives. We rarely see the very real hardship that is going on behind the scenes.
It’s important to recognize this aspect of social media. When you realize that people are posting what they want people to see, rather than what their lives are actually like, then you can lessen the influence that social media has on your self-esteem.
Source: Self Confidence