Social Media Affects Mental Health: Helping Yourself Through a Difficult Time

Since news of the pandemic broke out in December 2019, panic quickly gushed like an avalanche into our newsfeeds. Social media and mental health are not coffee and cream, but can we help ourselves from dipping into social media even if it means compromising our mental health?

We’re dealing with humans — the very beings in charge of making this world an exciting place to thrive in. Our search for facts sometimes leads us to the realization that we may have taken some things for granted all along.

Case in point: the toilet paper. People rioted over it in supermarkets during the first two months of the pandemic.

Like maybe most of you, I have also mulled over the question of how the spreading of a virus, with shortness of breath, fever and cough for some of the symptoms, led to the “shortage of toilet paper” in some parts of the world. We humans are a mysterious lot.

For now, let’s park that toilet paper somewhere around here because after four long months, it still is a ludicrously developing story in other parts of the globe. I just checked and people are still fighting.

Meanwhile, the polarized views on mask wearing in public have escorted people to their graves. And you ask, is a mask worth dying for?

These screaming news, whether you care to admit or not, get into your subconscious and leave you perturbed. And anxious. Sometimes you blame it on your constant trip to the coffee station without ever realizing it’s your constant consumption of news from social media that’s getting you depressed.

Learn how to slow down. Read that important life lesson here.

Social Media: Where Fact, Fiction and Fake Mingle Like Singles

There is nothing that you can do to control what goes on in social media. As soon as you log on — which I hope is not first thing in the morning — you begin your extreme emotional and psychological ride.

One minute you are scared because you hear or read about the deaths caused by COVID-19, then you bounce back to a happy place when your feed shows you photos of your adorable nephews and nieces (yes, yes, and of cats and dogs), and then you uncontrollably switch to envy mode when you see your friends’ (throwback) vacation photos. Sometimes it hits you like a baseball out of nowhere.

Inspirational memes eventually catapult you to an emotional plateau — a soft spot where you swiftly decide whether to start rolling to the better side of the bed or not.

You scroll up a bit more and there it is — words that make fear inside you swell: lockdown, confinement, curfew, quarantine. Then things got more baffling with the Extended Community Quarantine (ECQ) and so many other terms. There’s just no way to keep up.

People are angry, confused and afraid. And now, so are you.

It’s easier said than done, but sit still and pull back a little. There’s a reason why the unfollow button exists. Choose which people and what goes into your feed wisely.

Don’t Let Social Media Force-feed You with Depression

It’s all a matter of choice. Do your research and look for reliable sources for news, features and stories and stick to them. Choose trustworthy, unbiased local media outlets for national and local news. This could be tricky, but it will benefit you.

People are free to throw their opinions out there and this freedom has been abused in social media platforms. If one-sided, limited opinions are not what you want, scroll through your social media feed like you’re playing The Wheel of Fortune, or simply hide posts from people who contribute to your anxiety, e.g. the medical/political/sport analyst with exploding diastolic and systolic measures. I personally avoid them like the virus.

I would have suggested quitting social media altogether, but then it’s a happening place where yoga instructors, art teachers, meditation practitioners, professional dancers, chefs and many others share their expertise, talents and skills for free.

There are also several courses online that are being offered for free. You don’t want to miss out on the chance to learn something new, or to continue learning from home. The operative word is “free”.

If you’re one of the millions who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, here are tips to help you get through these tough times.

Social media is not always a bad place. You just have to know where to look.

Choose Peace of Mind, and Do It Consciously

Silence is food for the soul. We live in noise and have come to accept that it’s okay. Noise has become our normal. It’s not only the deafening noise at the office, at home, at the streets. It’s also the noise in social media or the internet in general. You can turn off the audio, but you can’t turn off the inaudible angry, demeaning words that people haul at each other, unless you look away.

And of course, there is more showboating out there than you can handle.

Silence and its beauty is underrated. I can’t blame you. Most of us rarely have a quiet time to enjoy, that is why a 10-day Silent Meditation is still considered out of this world by most.

Silence — sometimes that’s all we need to hear ourselves better. However, it doesn’t happen by chance. You have to choose it.

To choose peace of mind means tuning out from social media as often as you can. Ask yourself, how often do you really need to hear from the world? Every day just might be too much.

But then again, FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out is another phenomenon that has become intertwined with our lives since social media came to invade us. Mental health experts say FOMO affects people’s self-esteem more than they know.

There is so much more to the world than social media. Begin by calling a friend today and getting in touch for real. We are designed for face-to-face interactions and social media is not a substitute for real life.

Woman holding up a paper with a smile to her face.
Social media is not a substitute for real life.

Don’t Let Social Media Engagement Enslave You

The number of ‘likes’ and comments you get feed your dopamine level, that is why you feel compelled to check for updates every few minutes after you post something. Dopamine is responsible for making us feel good, but like most anything we feed our bodies, we have to be careful about our source. Social media is a bad one.

During difficult times like where we are now with the pandemic, taking care of our mental health is just as important as taking care of our physical well-being.

If you think social media is contributing to your problems with mental health, now is the time to act.

Yes, stop waiting on the number of ‘likes’ to keep going up. It’s getting you nowhere.

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