Your Social Media Rx
By Hannah Woit
Do you feel more chipper after a few minutes on Facebook? More inspired after scrolling Instagram? Pepped up by Twitter? Have you ever actually paused to see how you feel after spending some time on social media channels? Maybe, maybe not.
It’s worth spending a moment to check in with yourself to see how you feel the next time you log off. There’s a lot of noise these days about how social media and screen time affects our wellbeing. Some point to reasons to be concerned about social media use, but the effect of it on wellness is unclear. Researchers in Austria found that while people tend to expect that Facebook will boost their mood, the more time they spend on it, they worse they feel. They chalked it up to users’ feeling as if they had wasted time. Another study indicated that Facebook can trigger envy that causes depressive feelings.
You can have a healthy approach to social media though: the same research team found that if you don’t experience Facebook-induced envy, the social media site can actually improve your mood.
The types of social media you use and how you use them also matter. Pew research found that women who use Twitter in particular multiple times, exchange 25 emails, and send two photos on their cell phones each day are 21% less stressed than women who don’t use Twitter, email, or share photos. They also found that people who are on social are more aware of the events going on in their connections’ lives, but when the events are distressing, that can make users more stressed.
You can detox your social media feeds by unfollowing or unfriending people who don’t lift you up, but if you find yourself scrolling away mindlessly on Instagram or walking away from Facebook thinking about all of the life milestones you haven’t achieved, a full-on social media break might be in order.
If the thought of being out of touch with your friends and followers for a noticeable amount of time makes you uneasy or you’re afraid of appearing unresponsive, give them a heads up. That doesn’t mean you have to mass message everyone--just change your profile photo or add a post with an image that functions like the social media equivalent of an “out of office” email. Try the one at the top of the post to get started. Enjoy!