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How Social Media Assaults Mental Health: Identify 4 Warning Signs (and Ways to Break Free)

If you’re curious about your relationship with your phone, you can try out this quick Smartphone Compulsion Test.
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I once lost my job at a broadcasting company and transformed into a social media zombie. I mindlessly scrolled through my phone for hours, even bringing it with me to the bathroom.

I did this to keep tabs on my former company and escape from my boredom.

The constant notifications compelled me to constantly check my phone, leading me to compare my life with others. This had a negative impact on my mental health and disrupted my self-care routine.

However, I managed to overcome it, and you can too.

This post will guide you in recognizing the warning signs and taking back control of your mental well-being. Let’s break free from comparison and embrace a genuine, happy life.

Are you ready? Let’s begin.

#1: When Social Media Hijacks Your Life

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Image Credit Freepik

Spending too much time on social media can make people less social and cause more conflicts in relationships, according to research.

It’s common to see people glued to their phones, oblivious to the world around them. This lack of presence can create distance and resentment, even in close relationships.

But remember:

  • Smartphones are designed to keep us hooked. Catherine Rice, an acclaimed health and science journalist, confirms that smartphone manufacturers engineer devices to make us spend more time on them, sacrificing everything else

  • The key to your future lies in effectively managing your time. How you use your time determines who you become in the future. 

  • Don’t view this just as time wasted, but about the choices you make. Instead of endless social media scrolling, you could be cherishing time with loved ones, living in the moment, or developing new skills.

Break free from social media taking over your life:

  • Customize your phone apps based on their ability to either waste your time or enhance your daily life in order to reduce your screen time. Most personalization features on our phones are designed to keep us glued to our screens.

  • Transform your phone’s display to black and white or grayscale to make it less visually appealing and reduce your temptation to use it.

  • Turn off push notifications, as they have a tendency to distract us from our current tasks or interactions, compelling us to check our phones constantly.

  • Create a list of VIPs and customize your phone to only notify you about their emails. This means you can still receive important work emails without being overwhelmed by notifications

#2: When Social Media Highlights Force You into Comparisons

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Image Credit Freepik

My ex-colleagues social media updates made me feel powerless and inadequate. I envied their seemingly perfect lives, which pushed me to try to match their greatness. Constantly comparing myself to them kept me stuck in the past, hindering any progress.

But remember:

  • In social media, what we see is just a highlight reel, not reality. People often present a curated version of themselves, hiding their challenges and flaws.

  • Comparing yourself to others constantly leads to unhappiness. It makes you feel insecure, lowers your self-esteem, and can even cause mental health issues like depression. Remember, you are worth much more than a perfectly edited TikTok video!

  • Your journey is unique to you. Focus on finding your own path and walking it with confidence. Along the way, don’t forget to acknowledge and celebrate your own accomplishments. Life is about the journey, not just reaching a destination. Be your own biggest supporter, not a critic of others on social media.

Break free from the cycle of comparing yourself to others:

  • Keep in mind that your worth is not determined by the number of likes or followers you have. When you recognize your own value, you don’t seek validation from others to feel important. Confidence stems from understanding your own worth.

  • Practice gratitude by recognizing and appreciating what you have, your loved ones, and other things that make you thankful. Make the most of the tools at your disposal to aid you.

  • Make a personalized feed that encourages a positive mindset and inspires you, instead of bringing you down.

#3: When Social Media Drives You Towards Risky Behaviour for Clout

Video Credit: Exposure Labs

I recall seeing a video on social media where a passenger was enthusiastically cheering for the bus driver as two buses, the one he was on and another on the road, raced each other.

However, the joy quickly turned into tragedy when the bus collided with a stationary truck, resulting in fatalities.

Instead of prioritizing safety, the passenger opted for social media fame, neglecting the opportunity to warn the driver.

But remember:

  • Programmers develop algorithms for social media that prioritize captivating content, without taking into account the potential harm it can cause to your mental health. Remember the shocking revelations from The Social Dilemma documentary?
Video Credit: RSA
  • Pursuing online popularity can lead to physical harm, accidents, and even mental health issues.

  • Many people with a huge social media presence are paid to portray a glamorous lifestyle. If their lives online seem too good to be true, then it could be so

Quit the risky chase, and prioritize your mental health:

  • Download the Facebook Demetricator to avoid getting caught up in likes. For example, It replaces “100 people liked your post” with “People like this.”

  • Prioritize your safety over seeking temporary online fame. Consider the potential risks before sharing anything.

  • Resist the urge to conform to dangerous trends or challenges due to peer pressure. Stand up against it.

  • Share content that promotes positivity and values that can truly make a difference in people’s lives.

4: When Social Media Feeds Your Anxiety and Depression

Social media has its pros and cons. On one hand, it brings people together and provides entertainment. On the other hand, it can worsen mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Video Credit: Exposure Labs

But remember:

  • Using electronic devices late at night and the blue light emitted from screens can disrupt sleep patterns, worsening anxiety and depression symptoms.

  • Hearing a lot about other people’s exciting lives can make you feel lonely, left out, and more anxious and sad.

  • Witnessing online violence, cyberbullying, and hurtful comments can cause feelings of anxiety and depression.

Break free from the grip of anxiety and depression:

  • Know your screen time. Personally, I rely on the Microsoft launcher to monitor my social media usage. Install an app that suits your preferences.

  • Dedicate one day each week to be free from scrolling, except for making calls and sending texts. Having a day without scrolling allows you to reflect on how using your phone purposefully can enhance your concentration, mood, and relationships.

  • Manage your time on social media by allocating specific periods to browse your feeds and make sure to follow them strictly.

  • Seek professional help If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression. Reach out to a therapist or counselor if you need assistance.

Resources

If you’re curious about your relationship with your phone, you can try out this quick Smartphone Compulsion Test.

In Conclusion,

You’ve seen the signs. You’ve felt the tug. Social media has both good and bad sides, taking up your time and affecting your well-being.

But wait, my friend. Before you find yourself caught up in the chaos once again, pause and think about this: how do you plan to make the most of the time you’ve gained back?

You have control. And now? It’s time to take action. No more excuses, no more delaying.

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