What's the Mental Health cost of social media?
Being social simply means belonging to a group, they could be like minded, have a common interest like a religion/belief or it could be a group of people all with a condition discussing what has helped.
Are Mental Health problems becoming more common or are we just becoming more aware and open about talking about them?
A number of studies have shown that among 18 - 34 year old's an increased use of Social Media has a direct correlation with Depression. The more you use Social Media, the more likely it is that you will have/develop Depression or a similar "disorder".
It seems counter intuitive
We know that being social and interacting with people is a way for us to feel happy, feel surrounded by people that have a similar situation to us but in the case of Social Media it seems to have the opposite effect. The more time spent "socialising" alone on your phone, the less mental well-being that you have!
Are you really being social when using Social Media?
To be social, you have to communicate - Many people merely use Social Media simply to peer into the lives of other people.
Well, we aren't goin
g to share a video/photo or post regularly about how crap everything is (unless you're depressed) The vast majority of "content" is showing how perfect somebody's life is. How great they are and their life is fantastic. It often doesn't show that they've had a crap meal, that sometimes they hate their kids, that they've had a bad day at work - people generally tend to share the good stuff. That makes social media highly weighted towards the better end of what people think feel and do day to day.
Simply scrolling through endless "perfect" pictures (that may have taken hours to get just right) can make you feel bad because you don't look like that or have time to be that way (because you spend so much time scrolling through other peoples lives you forget you actually have your own)
When you use social media does it bring you closer to the people you are "following"?
Blue light Exposure
Spending excessive amounts of time on your mobile devices/laptops/computers late into the evening (which is often the time that most of us spend on Social Media) can also have negative effects on our circadian rhythm (sleep patterns)
If you remember back to my previous post - in related posts - poor sleep is tied in deeply with depression - it can cause insomnia, trouble getting to sleep and trouble staying asleep. Why Blue light is bad at night in brief
We (humans) have evolved to wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. We know that light, from the Sun, in the morning, is at the Blue end of the spectrum (Doppler effect) and at night more Red.
So, if we expose our eyes to blue light regularly at night, our Brain will believe that it is morning time. Your Brain "runs a program" saying it's morning time - cortisol (stress hormone) - is released, melatonin (a happy sleep hormone) production stops for around 3 hours. Therefore, when you are thinking about going to bed, your awake hormones are released and your sleepy hormones are inhibited temporarily. This can then lead to a struggle either getting to sleep, staying asleep or simply very poor quality sleep. This can then lead to a whole host of health problems, not just Mental Health.
What can you do? Be in the moment, observe your surroundings, be there for the people you are ACTUALLY with.
Be around for the 5 - 10 close friends and family that you have nearby - they are the ones who really love you. Yes, it's great to help people far and wide, it's great to be able to be in touch with anyone worldwide any time of day. BUT, is it affecting you negatively or those around you?
A bit of a buzz word at present. But it has been used to effectively help many people with different psychological conditions.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of thinking, it's about letting go of things that you can't effect, take responsibility for what you can affect. Be in the moment, let go of what has past (remember it, but let it go), don't worry about what the future holds (Anxiety!!) and be present in what it is you are currently doing.
I have personally found that being more mindful has helped me to project myself into a future where I'm doing what I should be doing, where I am successful. Being Mindful, then pulls me back to the present moment so that I can take ACTION now so that I will get to that place in the future.
How to become more Mindful?
Take regular pauses throughout the day to refocus on the tasks at hand or just to become aware of your surroundings. Where are you? How do you feel? What is your breathing like? How do your "normal" aches and pains feel? are you enjoying what you are doing?
Are we simply more aware that Mental Health problems exist BECAUSE we have Social Media?
Is this a bad thing?
Social Media is a snapshot of what is normally the "best" bits of somebody's life - remember, they aren't perfect and will have shitty days too.
Blue light is bad for our health - avoid looking at blue light too frequently throughout the day and especially in the evening as this effects our sleep.
Sleep is the MOST IMPORTANT thing that we do. Be more aware of your current state. Think about the good things that have happened in the day, things that have made you smile - WRITE THEM DOWN - think about them again before bed time.