How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health

Did you know most people spend around 2 hours a day on social media? 

Social media is addictive and can be harmful if misused. 

The kicker: most of us don’t even know that.

As part of my mission as a life coach, I want to teach you what I’m learning and doing so you can have the same tools I use for my own personal development.

In this post, I want to teach you a new way to think about social media…

If you want to listen instead of read, here’s the podcast episode that goes along with this post — Reducing Social Media.

How Social Media Affects Mental Health

Inner Dialogue When You Scroll

Let’s start with the inner dialogue you have when you scroll.

What are you thinking when you scroll through social media?

I have a collection of inner dialogue I’ve had myself and have heard from others. 

When you’re on social media it’s easy to think things like…

  • There’s one like. I wonder how many I’ll get?
  • I can’t believe she’s complaining. I think she’s so lucky.
  • I wish that my legs looked like that.
  • How come she can get pregnant so easily?
  • There’s no way I could have that.
  • Must be nice to have a family like that.
  • I want to be on a beach.
  • How does she have so many friends?
  • OMG I need that right now.
  • It must be nice to be rich.

These are just a small set of the thoughts that come when scrolling on social media.

Did you find yourself relating to some of these? 

There can be positive thoughts as well, but the negative thoughts tend to be more common.

Your brain naturally tends to compare yourself to others. 

We all do this. But to what extent we make it mean something about us and affect the rest of our day, depends on how much thought work we’ve done.

And this is just one introductory reason why you would want to reduce social media (i.e.: it’s hard to manage your mind when you’re constantly scrolling)! I wanted to start with this because it’s relatable. We’ve all been there. But now, let’s take a look at some of the other reasons why you’d want to reduce your social media intake…

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Why Reduce Social Media

There’s a lot of good reasons to limit your time on social media. I’m going to share 7 reasons why I think it’s a good idea. 

1. It’s Addictive

Social media can be so addictive. I’m sure you heard that before. 

When you scroll through social media, there’s always something new. However, the new isn’t very different. It’s predictable. In fact, that predictability makes it worth it. It keeps you coming back. 

You may find yourself wondering, “what did I miss?” when you’re not on your phone.

When you’re addicted to social media, you get a dopamine hit. This also applies to when you’re the one posting. When you see a like or get a comment, it feels good. In addition, your brain shoots off dopamine. It may tell you, “Hey this is amazing.” 

When this happens, we like to use social media to feel better. We start posting more often. We try to post things we think others would like. And we may feel anxious when we’re away from social media. 

Social media is just like any other addiction. However, we tend not to regulate it. We don’t put limits on it. We may not even see it as harmful as other addictions. And we don’t try and feel our feelings. 

We just keep on scrolling.

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2. It Makes It Hard To Manage Your Brain

Social media makes it hard to manage your brain. This isn’t a good thing. 

You want to help your brain out here. In fact, managing your brain is already hard enough. Social media doesn’t help at all. 

Think of it like watching the news all day. The news isn’t making you think about new things. It’s just offering you thoughts. So your brain chooses whether or not to believe them. However, the more you watch things, the more your brain tends to believe it. 

This is the same exact thing that happens with social media. If you spend a lot of time on social media, you’re going to think that what’s on social media is the whole truth. 

3. You Compare Yourself To Others More

When you’re on social media, you have the tendency to compare yourself to others. You’ll see what’s going on in their life and think it’s better than yours. Or you may think they’re happier. In addition, you may think you’re not doing as well. 

When you look at someone else, your brain is going to compare. It’s just what naturally happens. It’s very hard to control. 

4. You Learn That Out There Is More Important Than In Here

When you’re on social media, you’ll learn that what’s out there is better than what’s inside. You’ll believe that everything that’s happening outside of you is important. You’ll also believe what’s happening inside, (the things you can control) your thoughts, feelings, and actions, are less important. 

This is so harmful. You’re going to think others are the most important. More important than yourself and your immediate family. 

You’ll crave their attention. You’re going to want to be liked by them. So you’ll look to them to make decisions. You’ll do things based on how they appear for others. 

In addition, you won’t even know yourself.

If you’re addicted to social media, it’s so hard to know you. Do you know what you like?

What are some things about you?

  • What do YOU like?
  • How do you like your eggs?
  • What are your favorite flowers? 
  • What foods do you dislike?

Do you know you? Or do you base yourself on what other people want from you? 

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5. Your Thoughts Become What Others Are Doing

Your mental chatter will be all about what others are doing. You’re going to run out of time for you. When’s the last time you focused on your goals? 

You’re no longer focused on being a producer. You’re not trying to create for yourself. 

Instead, you’re just a consumer. You’re waiting to take in info. You’re looking for ways to create your life for others. And you’re waiting for their advice. In fact, you’re just living someone else’s life. 

You’re missing the opportunity to make a life for yourself. You’re missing out on your goals. 

If you’re constantly consuming you can’t be creating. 

6. You Increase Your Need For External Approval 

When you’re addicted to social media, you’re craving external approval. You may find your approval is based on likes. You value yourself based on others’ validation in the comments. You’re waiting for others to approve of you. 

Validation is so addictive. We all want it. Our brains want it. It feels so good when the dopamine hits. However, it’s only a temporary good feeling. 

Validation actually is only reinforcing your painful story. It also reinforces the pain you’re creating with it. This makes it so much harder to let go. You’re causing yourself to believe that if you don’t get that validation, you’re not good enough. But this isn’t the truth. You need to let go of that pain. 

Letting go of your painful story creates peace. You’ll be so grateful to yourself for doing so. 

Your lower self and your lower brain likes validation. However, it’s not what’s best for you. It feels good in the moment. But it’s the exact opposite of what will really help you in the long run. 

You need to remember you’re already worthy the way you are. 

7. Your Perception Of Reality Is Skewed

When you’re on social media, you’re seeing a skewed version of reality. In fact, you’re only witnessing everyone’s “highlight reel.” People are only showing their best moments. 

You may think everyone else is a lot happier than you are. You might think they have it figured out. But the truth is, you’re only seeing bits and pieces of their lives. 

When you post on social media, you’re probably only putting your best moments. You’re showing off time with family, you’re sharing your favorite vacations, you’re showing wins. You post when there’s joy in your life. In fact, other people do the same exact thing. 

You may be seeing someone’s best moments when you’re feeling your worst. This doesn’t make you feel happy. Instead, you’re probably feeling the exact opposite. You’re probably feeling “less than.” You feel inadequate, lonely, and like you’re missing something. 

You feel your worth is less than those you’re seeing. 

This just isn’t true. 

A helpful way to avoid these feelings is to reduce your time on social media. 

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How To Reduce Social Media

Now let’s talk about how to reduce social media.

It’s not going to be easy, but I think it’s pretty simple. Meaning, you can use the steps below, and if you have a good life coach, you can process the negative emotions that come up for you (the hard part). That will also keep you right on track.

1. Unfollow Any Accounts That Keep You From Being Your Best Self

Avoid and unfollow any accounts that are keeping you from your highest self. This may be a certain brand that sets unrealistic standards. This may also be someone who uses a lot of photoshop. This may be a celebrity who lives a life that you don’t at the moment. 

Follow the accounts that make you feel good. Follow the accounts that energize and motivate you. 

2. Take The Apps Off Your Phone

Completely remove the apps of your phone. If you can’t resist the habit of opening the app, then delete it. Make it so you can’t even see it. 

3. Decide Ahead Of Time How Much You Use It

Decide for yourself beforehand how much you want to be on social media. Create rules for yourself. This could be ten minutes a day. It could be once a week. So just set a goal that works for you. 

4. Stick To Your Schedule

When you decide how much time, make sure you stick to your schedule. There’s no point to creating rules for yourself if you ignore them. Hold yourself accountable and follow through with your rules. 

5. Allow The Urge

It’ll be common, if you’re addicted to social media, to feel the urge to use it. Allow this urge to come. Don’t push it away. Just understand that the urge is there. Know how to cope when you’re feeling bad. But don’t ignore the urge. Acknowledge it, but tell yourself no. 

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Not Ready To Reduce? Do This Instead.

If you’re not ready to reduce your time on social media, there’s another option. 

Try some of these steps instead…

1. Write Down How Much You Check Social Media

Use a 24 hour time period to write down your time on social media. It doesn’t matter what day it is. Just track your time. 

2. Check In With Your Thoughts And Feelings When You Use It

Ask yourself how you’re feeling when you’re using social media. Ask yourself how you feel when you scroll. 

Write down what you’re thinking about after you use it. Ask yourself “What am I thinking?”

Are you happy with these results? 

Some other questions you can consider asking yourself about social media are…

  • Do you look for others (even celebrities) to define what your life should look like?
  • Do you define your looks based on what you’re seeing on other accounts?
  • Do you base your self worth on what you’re seeing on social media? 

It’s so important to be aware of what you’re feeling and thinking. Think about how it makes you feel. Be aware of that inner dialogue that comes along with social media. Is it beneficial to you? 

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Objections To Watch Out For

When you reduce social media, your brain may object, so it’s important to be aware. 

Your brain may think that you’re missing out on something. You might miss out on someone’s life event. Or you might miss something interesting. If you give into this fear, you’re constantly in reactive mode. You’re also constantly going to be waiting for stuff to happen. In addition, you’re not living your own life.

Your brain always might try to tell you that all that time on social media isn’t a big deal. In addition, it might try to tell you it’s not hurting you. This obviously isn’t true. In fact, social media addiction is extremely harmful. 

Don’t allow these objections to distract you. Put the hard work in to benefit yourself. So much good can come from it. 

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Results Of Intentional Social Media Use

There are so many benefits of being intentional with social media. 

You’re going to feel a lot calmer. 

You’re also going to find more time to produce and create. You’ll be out of the habit of being a constant consumer.

You’re no longer going to be in reaction mode. You’re not going to be waiting for a certain post. And you’re not going to be waiting for that “like” or comment notification. 

You’re no longer going to compare yourself all the time. You’re not going to have to think about how you’re less than someone else. You’re not going to base your life on someone else’s social post. You’re not going to get your validation from someone’s comment on your picture. 

You’re also going to find it easier to coach yourself. You’re not going to have those external opinions. In addition, you’re going to do internal coaching without any other input. 

There are so many good things that can come from taking the time to be aware of how you use social media. 

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A Final Note!

My challenge to you is to limit your social media.

Be intentional about the use of it. 

Pay attention to how you feel when you’re using it.

Be the leader of your life. Be aware of what role social media plays in your future.

I promise you it will be worth it. 

Up Next, watch the YouTube video…