The Link Between Social Media and Depression
Forty years ago, we lived in a time when we went outside daily, hung out with our friends, and sat down at the dinner table with our families. Life seemed so simple, and you rarely felt alone. And if you did, you’d call a friend and get together with them. But now things have changed drastically since technology has grown. People are isolating more, texting rather than talking, and glued to social media, to the point of addiction. In turn, this often causes depression and anxiety for many individuals.
It’s not to say that technology has failed us. In fact, it offers many benefits. Take during the pandemic when families were at least able to video call each other. Online counselling was offered more than ever. Tons of support groups were held online. Kids continued schooling at home. And plenty of people worked from home, thanks to their computers. Still, just as we must balance what we put in our stomachs, we must do the same with our brains. So, let’s discuss ways we can balance our screen time.
Why Is Reducing Social Media Important?
According to studies, Australia is considered one of the most social media users globally, and their average daily social media consumption has increased by 6% to 2hr and 4min (+7 minutes). But what does that actually mean? It means increased social isolation, reduced activity, attention or sleep issues, and other physical and mental health issues. So, here we will explore the effects.
Too much social media can create:
Health Issues. Often, the more hours we’re on the computer, the less apt we are to get moving, which is a big issue. Reduced activity can lead to obesity, thus increasing the chances of heart disease, diabetes, and other physical issues. It can also lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. In contrast, exercise releases a hormone that decreases anxiety and depression, increases self-esteem, and can improve one’s overall well-being.
Attention Issues. Devices have understandably become a necessity in school and work. Still, aside from that, they can create a lack of focus, low concentration, and more productivity issues. For instance, we might have missed a keynote if we constantly check our devices at work and school. Or, we could get hurt on the job if we’re distracted by our devices while operating machinery. Eventually, this lack of productivity can leave one feeling stressed and depressed.
Social isolation: There seems to be too much happening nowadays on social media that it’s hard to walk away. You can watch the funniest TikTok videos or go on YouTube. Then you have endless friends’ Facebook posts to keep up with and photos of their fairytale lives. However, social media can be deceiving when we only see glimpses of people’s lives. For example, seeing your friend’s new car or wedding photos can cause you to feel lonely and envious. So, now you’re comparing their happiness to your unhappiness when they might not be as happy as they appear.
Sleep issues: How many of us struggle at night to fall asleep due to staying on our phones in the late hours of the evening? It is a problem for many, especially the younger generation, who use their devices in bed. However, too much blue light at night can prevent us from falling asleep.
For one, blue light can trick our eyes into thinking it’s daylight. For another, our bodies produce a hormone in response to darkness called melatonin that helps us to sleep. But too much light can decrease melatonin levels and disrupt our sleeping patterns.
Blue light also affects our natural sleep patterns, called circadian rhythm, and throws our schedules off. That’s why doctors say to go to bed and get up around the same time daily, including on weekends.
Sleep deprivation can take a toll on anyone’s mental health. Still, blue light is a more significant concern for those struggling with sleep due to mental health conditions. It can worsen their symptoms and lead to suicidal thoughts.
How to Balance Social Media and Your Well-Being
As mentioned above, social media has good usage. So, it’s not all bad. Instead, it’s just how we balance our digital time. So, let’s discover how we can do that.
1. Spend quality time with others.
How often do we or do we see others out with their friends or loved ones and yet are glued to their phones? Like that couple sitting together at the table who aren’t emotionally present because they’re too busy checking their phones. Or the group of young friends hanging out together yet on their phones messaging other friends who aren’t even present.
The immediate gratification and addiction to social media have taken over our lives. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to be mindful of one another. So, how about you and your friend putting your phones down while at the café? Or perhaps spending quality time in the evening with your partner and having a lighthearted conversation.
The point is to savour the moment you’re in and the person you’re with.
2. Turn off your devices one to two hours before bedtime.
Of course, putting your device down is hard, but try to at least 1-2 hours before bedtime. As discussed earlier, too much blue light can prevent us from sleeping well. Plus, nothing is worse than lying in bed for hours wide awake with a wired brain. It’s enough to drive anyone mad.
Before bed, try to unwind from the blue light before you settle down and make it a routine. For instance, start a nightly routine by cleaning up any last dishes, bathing, or having a warm cup of milk. Your brain relies on a nighttime structure. Therefore, the more you stick with a regimen, the easier it should become to fall asleep.
3. Get out of bed before you check your device.
It’s not to say we can’t have those days when we linger in bed a little longer and check our devices. But it becomes a problem if we do it daily because we can’t stop checking everything. Now, we’ve lost out on an entire day. So, try getting out of bed upon awakening and getting ready for the day. Then, after completing that, you can sit down for a while and check your device.
In addition, try setting a timer to allow yourself some device time and then move on the minute the alarm goes off. That way, it doesn’t take away from your day. Just don’t keep resetting it like your wake-snooze button.
4. Leave your device in another room.
The saying out of sight, out of mind can also apply to your devices. Therefore, leaving them in another room for some time might distract you enough to get other things accomplished. So, why not find something else to do that can divert your attention? For instance, reading a book, doing arts and crafts, spending time with someone, walking, or creating a new hobby. To start, see if you can stay away from your device for at least an hour. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish in that time. Through time, you’ll hopefully be able to stay clear of your devices for longer.
Balance Is the Key
Just as it’s healthy to balance the time we spend with our partner, how much food we put on our plates, or how often we do strength training exercises, the same is true with the time we spend on social media. Otherwise, if we don’t periodically step away, we will miss out on what’s right in front of us – people, things to do, and opportunities. And we certainly don’t want to live in regret someday because we didn’t take the time to make special memories. So, try to remind yourself that balance is the key.
You Are Not Alone
It’s vital to know that you are not alone. Having someone who can relate to your issues and listen without judgment can help relieve your sadness or loneliness. One such place is Barty’s Adventures, where they hold special events and adventures to help men feel better about themselves by keeping active, thus improving mental health. Barty – We Are A Mental Health Initiative
Why Not Try Online Therapy?
Hopefully, these points could give some comfort, but sometimes just reading quotes isn’t enough. Online therapy can be a great option if you or a loved one is looking for more support.
Therapy through BetterHelp.com/Barty can be more affordable than traditional therapy and allows many options to communicate with your therapist from the comfort of your home. Most importantly, remember that it is okay not to be okay, and you are no less of a human for feeling your emotions and being vulnerable.
To receive 25% off your first month, head to BetterHelp.com/Barty
Feel free to drop by if you’d like to chat and just say, ‘Hey Barty,’ in strict confidence, and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or do not hesitate to leave a comment below