Social Media and Mental Health

When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing that you do? For most of us, the answer is: look at my phone. Social media is a huge part of our modern lives. You check Facebook when you’re bored, scroll through Instagram while sitting on the couch, and kill time at work by sneaking onto TikTok. So, of course, when we dedicate so much of our time and focus on social platforms, it has an effect on our mental health and self-image. 

How social media affects your brain chemistry: 

Social Media is designed to be addictive. When you use it regularly, it activates the brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine. Because of this, you begin to subconsciously crave the reinforcement you feel when someone likes or comments on your posts. However, where this attention-based platform might seem like it would boost self-esteem or give you a sense of belonging, it often has the opposite effect. 

If you post on social media and it doesn’t get the response you hoped for, it can make you feel inadequate or embarrassed. Similarly, if you notice that someone is getting a lot of attention on your timeline, it can lead you to compare yourself in an unrealistic way to the people around you.

How social media affects your self-image:

When you are constantly bombarded with pictures and videos of the lives of celebrities or people you “follow”, it begins to make you question your own happiness or success. It is easier to compare yourself to others, without considering that those moments were specifically chosen, cropped, filtered, and photoshopped. For example, if you are exposed to thousands of pictures of women with “perfect” bodies, then you might begin to have lower self-esteem or a negative body image.

Be aware and make goals:

Social media isn’t all bad; when used sparingly and consciously, it can be a great tool to connect with others, inspire artwork or start a side hustle. However, like with all vices, you have to be aware of your consumption and its effects on your mindset. A great way to do this is to look at your screen time on your phone. If you find that you’re focusing more of your attention on entertainment platforms than you originally thought, you can make goals for yourself each day and begin to shift your mindset. 

Social media is going to be a part of the fabric of modern life for the foreseeable future. Everyone can benefit from the ability to maintain awareness of how much attention you’re giving to social platforms and how it is affecting your mental health. If you would like to speak with a counselor about other ways you can address a negative body image or low self-esteem, give Tx Harmony Counseling a call at (832) 352-1600 or contact us here. 

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Natalie Wilie, LPC

Natalie Wilie, LPC

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