Don’t compare your life to what you see on social media – it’s fake and it’s damaging your mental health, says expert
EXPERTS are urging people to stay away from Instagram this Christmas – for better mental health.
While social media may seem like the perfect place to see some festive photos, research shows that the filtered content can actually make people feel worse about their own lives.
National mental health charity Turn2Me is encouraging people to spend less time online and more with the ones they love.
The organization is running free ‘Christmas Blues’ support groups from December 25 to January 1 to lend a listening ear to those feeling the effects of the festive season.
Here, Fiona O’Malley, chief executive of Turn2Me, outlines why reducing social media use will make this Christmas more enjoyable.
COMPARISON to the perfect Instagram Christmas can lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointment.
That’s why Turn2Me, a national mental health charity, is encouraging people to reduce their social media use over Christmas.
Social media can be very harmful to our mental health and removing the apps from our phones, deleting social media accounts, or reducing the amount of time we spend on social media can have mental health benefits.
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly seven out of ten Americans use social media.
A 2015 British study called The Children’s Well-being 2015 publication found that children who used social networking sites for more than three hours on a school day were twice as likely to have high or very high scores for mental illness to report.
The 2016 Journal of Adolescence found that social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
The research is clear: social media can be very detrimental to our mental health.
What we see on Instagram is a very filtered and edited version of people’s lives.
People don’t post the difficult, mundane, or boring parts of their lives on social media because it’s not that interesting, and people don’t want to air their dirty laundry in public.
So, when we compare our own reality to the seemingly perfect ‘Instagram lives’, it’s an unfair comparison because it’s comparing your life to the edited look at someone else’s life.
Christmas can heighten this imbalanced equation and make people feel even more dissatisfied with their own lives, as there are moments of celebration at Christmastime for such
People get engaged, move into their new dream homes, announce pregnancies, get or give luxury gifts, and capture precious moments with close family members. This is not the reality.
Most people have at least one dysfunctional or harmful relationship in their family, most people won’t mark the Christmas season with a life-changing festive occasion, and especially with the rising cost of living, most people won’t get or give gifts. -the top luxury gifts.
It’s important not to compare your own life to the lives you see on social media, because that’s an unfair comparison – it’s like comparing your reality to what you see in an ad.
It’s not real and that type of comparison can be really harmful to our mental health.
Turn2Me is encouraging anyone feeling lonely, anxious, depressed or stressed over the Christmas period to sign up for their free mental health services on Turn2Me.ie.
SOCIAL MEDIA CAN DAMAGE HEALTH
Social media can also lead to feelings of being left out or FOMO (fear of missing out).
When someone sees a group of friends hanging out on Instagram without them, it can make them feel excluded and they may worry about what they did to lead to this exclusion.
Social media is also full of bullies. A 2021 study of Indonesian elementary school children, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that Instagram use was significantly related to the development of separation anxiety.
Children especially showed school avoidance when they experienced cyberbullying.’
Some 91 percent of participants surveyed for a study by Ghada M. Abaido on social media agreed with the “existence of online harassment in the form of cyberbullying on social media platforms”.
A 2021 study by Amanda L. Giordano at the University of Georgia found that higher rates of social media use, more hours spent online, and identifying as male significantly predicted teen cyberbullying perpetration.
The bottom line is that social media can damage our mental health.
If you don’t want to delete your social media accounts, try deleting the apps from your phone or reducing the amount of time spent on social media channels.
Turn2Me is running free ‘Christmas Blues’ support groups from 25th December to 1st January.
Anyone wishing to use Turn2Me’s free, professional mental health services over the Christmas period can sign up at Turn2Me.ie.