Spending too much time on social media can be seriously damaging to your mental health. Here’s why you should cut down;
No one wants to hear it, but we all know its true: social media is toxic. Or at least it can be. I’m as guilty as anyone (my phone is literally the first thing I see in the morning) so I can’t exactly talk, but just stop and ask yourself: do you care about (or even know) half of the people who’s Snapchat stories you waste hours watching? Does posting a picture of your Nandos make it taste any better? Has obsessively stalking your ex’s Instagram ever made you feel good? No, no and no.
Now I’m not expecting you to go out and throw away your phone (please don’t, it probably cost more than your rent) but if you’ve ever been to a concert and spent more time filming it than dancing (that’s everyone) then maybe you should consider taking a step back.
Social media forces us to make harmful comparisons
Go ahead, roll your eyes, we’ve all heard this one before. But it’s true! I’m definitely not the only one who’s feed is taken up by dozens of ‘influencers’ driving huge cars, advertising expensive clothes and jetting off to pose their bikini bodies on mysterious beaches in Bali- all whilst being no more than a couple of years older than I am. The Instagram culture really is worse than ever, and its easy to look at these people and think ‘Why don’t I look like that?’ ‘How do I get there?’ ‘What am I doing wrong?’
But the thing about these photo ready lifestyles is that they’re just not real – everyone has problems and bad skin days and days when they don’t feel like leaving the house. They just don’t post about it. Spending too much time comparing ourselves to other people’s best bits isn’t just harmful, it’s unrealistic – so if you really do insist on keeping up with the picture perfect lives of other people, please do so with a pinch of salt.
Screen time is usually wasted time
And I don’t just mean spending more time videoing Post Malone for your story than watching him (although this has to stop too, its annoying). Every spare second we have seems to be spent looking at a phone, for no other reason than because its convenient. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you added up all the minutes you spent mindlessly scrolling you’d end up with a considerable chunk of time that could have been spent doing something far more valuable. Learning, seeing your friends, exercising something other than your thumbs, just something.
And if you really do insist on staying glued to your phone, you could even put that to better use. At Tyfy, we want to help you spend all that spare screen time adding to your CV and building your future. Read how here.
It actively encourages anxiety
I’m not saying this is the case for everybody, but it certainly is for me, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one. As an example, if you’ve ever sat waiting for someone you fancy to reply to your Snapchat, then you’re probably no stranger to the mixture of emotions it entails: the anxiously waiting, the pulse race when you hear the notification, the annoyance when you realise its just your friend, the absolute stomach-dropping agony of ‘Opened 3 minutes ago’.
Okay, bit dramatic, but you take my point. Even this, the smallest of situations, has the serious capability to seriously stress us out. And its definitely not the only way social media can have an impact on anxiety.
So what can you do?
Here’s some small steps you can take to help you cut back:
- Invest in an actual alarm clock. That way, you can wake up peacefully without your phone being the first thing you have to see.
- Unfollow. Try looking through your Instagram and unfollowing anyone that makes you feel bad about yourself. I guarantee a few will come up.
- Turn off (some of) your notifications. Seriously, you don’t need your screen flashing every time someone likes your post.
- Delete the apps. A bit more drastic, but try deleting Facebook (the app, not your account) from your phone for a week, and see how much you miss it.
I’m not saying you have to cut off completely (I’m definitely not going to) but try being more aware about how much time you spend travelling between three or four little mobile apps, and consider what you might do instead.
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Marketing Co-ordinator dfor Tyfy.co
Emily studies English at Keele University and manages blog content for Tyfy. As well as her own Mental Health Monday column, Em also carries out Marketing, Research and Development for the Company.