Acacia Connection's July Wellness Message:

Social Media and Mental Health

Is social media damaging our mental health? Let's explore this hot topic in this month's e-newsletter.

Only established in the last 20 or so years, social media is completely intertwined in modern day society.

On average, adults have been found to check their phone up to 150 times per day (Huffington Post), with the majority of phone usage linked to social media use.

In addition, research has found that 77% of workers reported use of social media at work. Social media is integral to the majority of our lives.

Social media, including platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, is a powerful tool which most people use in order to connect to others. Social media has connected people outside of the world’s geographical limits, connecting like-minded people that might never have met, enabling the sharing of knowledge and creating communities.

However, social media has also been used as a platform for cyber bullying and seen as a means of comparing your life to millions of others’ idealised lives, leading to disconnection and anxiety. 

Therefore, this month we ask: is social media damaging to our mental health?
 
Research in this area is incredibly mixed however, key findings have been summarised below. 

Detriments of Social Media

  • Reduced happiness levels
  • Reduced productivity
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor sleep hygiene
  • Higher stress levels
  • Reduced focus and concentration at work
  • Increased levels of depression and anxiety in children (cyberbullying)
  • Reduced subjective wellbeing
  • Increased risk of developing psychopathology such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders, addictions, suicidal ideation
  • Perceived social isolation

Benefits of Social Media

  • A deeper sense of connection
  • Increased creativity and inspiration
  • Increased mental capacity due to acting as a mental break
  • Improved employee recognition and retention when used at work
  • Boosted productivity
  • Strengthened personal relationships
  • Increase in accessing support groups
  • Reduced levels of existing mental health issues
  • Reduced stigma around seeking treatment and mental health issues

The Verdict ...

Research is mixed around social media and its relationship to mental health, with positives and negatives both being found. This is due to:

  • research not being able to determine whether negative social media use causes mental health issues or whether mental health issues cause negative social media use.
  • social media not impacting all people equally, each person is unique so we cannot generalise whether one person’s use of social media may be positive or negative for another person.

Therefore, social media isn’t inherently bad or good. However, research has found that it is our relationship to social media that determines its impacts on mental health.

Top 10 Tips to Create a Healthy Relationship to Social Media:

  1. Keep Track: 
    • Use a tracking app such as Anti-Social for Android or keep a social media diary for one or two days to see how often and when you are checking your social media apps. 
  2. Question Yourself: 
    • Ask yourself, why are you checking social media? Is it to connect to others? Avoid something? Was it worth it? What did you miss out on?
  3. Evaluate:
    • Evaluate which parts of your relationship with social media are working and which parts are not. 
  4. Set Intentions:
    •  Set intentions as to how you want to use social mediae.g. to share knowledge, be inspired, create communities
  5. Practice Pausing: 
    • Before you tap on your social media app, practice pausing for 1-3 breaths to consider what you are looking for and whether this is helpful.
  6. See the Bigger Picture:
    • Keep the bigger picture in mind when using social media. Be aware that social media is not a true representationof the lives of others, so challenge the assumptions you are making about people based on this highlight reel.
  7. Consider your Own Contribution to Social Media: 
    • What you share is your choice and responsibility however be aware of the permanence of each post and who that might be reaching and influencing. 
    • Live by the rule of if you wouldn’t say something in a room full of people, don’t say it on social media
  8. Set Boundaries Between Offline and Online Lives:
    • Turn off social media notifications and set times in the day where you don’t use social media. 
  9. Be Selective:
    • If you have noticed certain topics, people or frequencies in your social media use that are negative for you, start to change your exposure to these. 
  10. Protect Your Sleep: 
    • Don’t look at your phone for at least 1 hour before wanting to go to sleep as the lights from phones can disturb our natural sleep hormone levels, leading to reduced sleep quality. 
    • Change where you charge your phone to limit usage of your phone at bedtime.
  11.  

If you or someone close to you needs support, contact Acacia Connection for an appointment.

P: 1300 364 273 | Text or Live Chat: 0401 337 711 | W: acaciaconnection.com

The Workshop Lab

The Workshop Lab has developed an exciting and fascinating workshop addressing the affects of digital device use on our overall performance, productivity and happiness levels. Based on the latest neuroscience research, participants will gain insight into specific tools for a planned ‘digital detox’ and learn how to take the first step to take back control of lost focus and attention. 

Interested? Ask us for more information. The Digital Device Effect Workshops is available in a 1-hour lunch and learn session; 2 hours, 3 hours; or half day option. 
Click here to Email us  for more information.