Last night, I was scrolling through Facebook and came upon an article from The Mighty titled, “Researchers Say Instagram Is the ‘Worst App’ for Your Mental Health.” Ironic that I found this article while aimlessly wandering around social media, but it struck a nerve with me.
In the article, it states that Instagram has “the highest negative affect on well-being – increasing anxiety, depression, and self-identity and body image issues for young people ages 14 to 24.” Regardless of these stats, Instagram is an app with more than 700 million users and can be used with both good and bad intentions.
With all this information, I decided to challenge myself. I would go an entire day without using any social media and see what it did for my anxiety and mental health. Starting from the moment I woke up at 6:40 this morning, to currently writing this blog post at 6:00 this evening – I haven’t opened an app, scrolled through any feed or put a heart on any photo.
Here’s what I discovered from avoiding social media:
I’m much more present.
Without the ability to escape into some form of social media during the day, I was forced to be. Just be in the moment more. For the first few hours of my workday, I found myself reaching for my phone randomly when there was a lull, because I normally scroll through Instagram as a tiny break. When I resisted that, I discovered that I was able to sit and just be where I was right then. Content.
I stopped comparing.
This was a big one. Honestly, this was the biggest part of why I think Instagram is terrible for mental health. Part of anxiety that’s toxic is comparing yourself to others. This is an app that breeds comparison. Because I wasn’t constantly checking Instagram, seeing how others were potentially doing “more interesting” things, I found I could feel more confident about my day. When it’s not being compared to anything else – that is likely not reality to begin with – you feel secure.
When I got bored or started to overthink, I found a more healthy way of distraction.
Let’s face it – sometimes your mind gets bored. When I had downtime or started to ruminate, I listened to a podcast I’m currently obsessed with, talked to one of my coworkers, or took a short walk outside. While some social media is very open and helpful when overthinking, it felt so much more effective and tangible to use these different ways of distraction.
By the end of the day, I realized that I put entirely too much emotion into my phone. From texting to Instagram, I’ve always read too much into each post or text and placed my own value into whether I heard back or got enough likes or comments. It’s a toxic game to play and removing myself from it – even just for a day – gave me a lot of introspection and mindfulness. I am enough – I don’t need 10, 100, or even 1,000 likes to validate that. Also, it doesn’t matter what others are doing, it matters what I’m doing right now. The less you focus on how others are living their lives, the more you gain for your mental health.
It went so well, I may actually ween myself from the amount I use my social media for the future.
Does social media have an affect on your anxiety? What are your thoughts?