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How to take care of your mental health in the era of social media

We are living in the age of digital connection. Though it certainly has its benefits, there are certain downsides to the overuse of social media as well. 

Let us have a look at a few negative behaviours that are on the rise and how to deal with them.

  1. Comparing ourselves to others

This is by far the most common behavioural tendency on the rise since the increased usage of social media. The fact is that people mostly post about the good aspects of their life on social media and not about their struggles. 

Too much exposure to these posts can make a person believe that what they are seeing is the only reality and they somehow lack what others seem to have in abundance. It leads to comparing one’s bad days to other people’s fraction of good days. 

Things to consider - 

  • There is more to the story than what you can perceive. Maybe that trip didn’t go as well as seen in the pictures, you never know. Pictures on social media are hardly a reflection of reality.
  • The number of likes DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING. There is no point in feeling bad because you are low on the social media numbers game. In reality, no one cares about the numbers. After meeting you for the first time people won’t ask you about your most liked picture or the number of followers you have, they will notice your personality.

2. Body image issues

There is a rise in the number of photoshopped and edited pictures of models. Various apps provide various filters to make you look good. There is an obsessive urge to have the perfect flawless body like the popular people. Many people are opting for plastic surgery to meet high beauty standards. 

The problem is not with plastic surgery. The problem is increasing resistance from people to accept their body as it is. That is a problem that plastic surgery cannot solve. 

Things to consider -

  • Your actions have a greater impact than your looks. Guess what? Everyone is just focusing on themselves. No one cares about that small mole on your chin, they might not even be able to notice it. What people will notice though, is your kindness and the kind of positive energy you bring to the table. Accepting your body and taking care of it leads to better results than hating your body or trying to change it to gain acceptance from others.
  • Just because you feel something for a while does not mean it is the truth. Just because you feel that you are not beautiful, does not make it a reality. Spending some time on social media can make you feel this way, but remember that is not the reality. Spend more time with people who make you feel good and beautiful. Remember, your worth is not determined by what some stranger comments on social media.

3. Obsessive urge to check social media.

Ping! There’s a notification again. We are constantly bombarded with notifications and that makes it difficult to focus on a particular task at work. There must have been instances where you pick up the phone to do a particular task and get distracted instead and end up spending an hour scrolling mindlessly through the feed. 

This leads to distraction and even isolation as we do not focus on the people we are talking to and instead check our cell phones. 

Things to consider -

  • Do not live in a virtual world, live in the present moment. Nothing is going to happen if you reply a little late. This especially needs to be remembered when meeting a friend or completing a task at work. Make the most of what you have now in front of you. 
  • Make sure social media does not interfere with your daily tasks. To maintain your good health and well-being, make sure you get 8-9 hours of sleep daily, make sure you eat food mindfully, and remember to drink 8-10 glasses of water every day. These are indeed small actions, but due to the excessive use of social media, these basic tasks can be hampered.

Here are a few tips to not let social media control you -

  1. Take a week or two-long break from social media once every six months or so. This will help you realise how dependent you are on social media and help you reduce your dependence. 
  2. Turn off the notifications. They are often distracting.
  3. While operating social media, remember to check in with yourself. Keep the phone down. Ask yourself questions like - How am I feeling right now? Are my eyes hurting? Is my neck hurting? Do I need to go for a walk? Is there anything else that I should be doing right now? Be honest with yourself and make the right choice.
  4. Build a life away from social media. Spend more time with your family and friends. One way to feel good about yourself is by doing the things you like, nurturing your hobbies, and giving time to your passions. 
  5. Spend more time interacting with people face-to-face. This way you will become more empathetic, and kind and develop valuable social skills. 
  6. Use social media to your advantage by following tutorial videos about something you want to learn, getting different book recommendations, watching soothing nature videos when you want to relax, etc.