It’s only the beginning of summer, but it seems like some people have already been enjoying the heck out of this onset of nice weather. If you’re like the rest of us, summertime is the worst time to be on social media. The pool parties and vacations. The incredible food and cute summer fashion. Not to mention it seems like everyone you know is either getting engaged, married, having a kid or “changing their lifestyle.” Instagram is now the second most popular social media platform. But it was ranked worst in the mental health category.
Why Does Instagram Make People Feel Worse?
A University of Pittsburgh study found a link between social media use and depression. It claims that increased exposure to highly idealized representations of peers is one likely reason. And because Instagram is so curated and image-centric, users are particularly vulnerable to feelings of anxiety and inadequacy.
Not to mention, the Instagram platform makes it easy to access triggering content that could promote existing mental health conditions. Content hash-tagged as “fitspo” could trigger anyone suffering from body image and eating disorder issues.
You Don’t Have to Delete It…
Okay, we get that some people really do like social media. So, we aren’t telling you to delete the app immediately. However, there are some steps you can take to lessen the negative effects:
One. Unfollow Accounts that Make You Feel Bad
Guess what. You don’t owe anyone anything on social media. Do you have an old friend or acquaintance that posts photos that curates a life that makes you jealous? Consider unfollowing their account. Why subject yourself to a cyclical trap that leaves you feeling less than your worth? You can always refollow after you do the work that allows you to remember your worth.
Two. Follow More of What Makes You Feel Good!
If you find gym and fitness posts motivating and a source of empowerment, follow more of it. But maybe you’d rather surround yourself with content regarding body positivity and self-care. Find content that makes you feel good. Heck, find content that gives you hope. Curate a feed you actually want to participate in and let it take you from there!
Three. Remember, Instagram is a Highlight Reel…Not Real Life
Almost every social media user curate their images to some degree. From Facetune and filters to photoshop and lightroom – anyone can become a digital artist. Remember, everyone has bad days. They just choose not to share them.
The passive act of scrolling actually cultivates feelings of envy. But by posting a comment, you can actually begin to build feelings of connectedness and friendship. If you like someone’s post, actually leave them a comment and tell them why! Empowered women empower women after all.
Or You Could Try a Summer Vacation from Social Media
It’s pretty safe to say that social media is going to continue to be here for a while. Perhaps try taking a break from it and actually enjoy your summer. Being mindful and in the present will make the warm weather feel even better. Use your phone to take pictures to cherish these summer memories – just wait a bit before you post them!
Social Media and Counseling
Heavy social media usage can often be symptomatic of other underlying problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness; it can also exacerbate these problems. If you find you feel negative emotions when you scroll, social media counseling may be the right tool for you. Therapy is a great way to help you combat social media issues and manage emotional triggers. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, we help our patients learn what distortions or negative core beliefs are driving them to seek constant connectivity. We also dive in to see why we need approval from social media platforms.
Together we will work on ways to combat automatic responses that continue our dependence on social media. Sometimes we have been out of the real world for so long, we no longer trust our communication skills. Your therapist will help you rebuild effective ways of communicating with others. And help you feel more assertive and engaged in face to face relationships. Cristina Panaccione and Associates has two locations in the South Hills and one office in Robinson Township. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you learn DBT skills to fight depression and anxiety!
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Marissa Betancourt – LPC, CAADC
Marissa Betancourt has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. After her studies at Chatham University, she became a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has approximately 5 years of experience working with the dually diagnosed population. Marissa works with people who experience depression, anxiety, mood disorders, personality disorders, and substance use. She also uses a mix of motivational interviewing, behavioral therapy, CBT, psycho-education, and gestalt therapy to assist clients working towards their goals. Marissa is transparent and assertive in the counseling process, helping clients gain insight into past and current behavior. She looks forward to helping you understand your symptoms and working through them at your own pace!