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This is the fourth part in our four part series about the impact of social media on mental health. This time we look at how it can effect our self esteem.

We are all are bombarded with images of utopia and a life that is unattainable to us. People put the best of themselves onto social media; happy families, smiling face’s, loved up couples, toned thighs.

In other words, social media can set us up to fail. If we take these images to be a true representation of the actual world it can start to make us question ourselves. It is well known that there is a link between the use of social media and low self esteem. It can make us feel anxious and socially isolated, even though on the face of it we are socially engaged.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) can enhance these feelings and before you know it you are stuck in a vicious circle, whereby your social media feed becomes the dominant voice, making decisions about how you spend your time, what you wear, even what time you go to bed.

How do we reverse this, to make social media work for us and take control back?

How often do you look at your phone?

We often use our phones without active thought: scrolling while waiting for the train or standing in queue. Take some time to think about how often you use your phone and what you hope to gain from it. Could this time be better spent doing something else?

Find another distraction

There is evidence that scrolling through social media and refreshing your pages stimulates the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitters responsible for our feelings of reward and pleasure. Try to set aside screen free time so that social media does not start to filter in to all aspects of your everyday life.

When you get the urge to check your phone delay doing so: get on with what you are doing or take a break and find another distraction.

Likes do not validate you!

Do not look to social media to provide validation for who you are. There are many reasons people will/will not like a post or your picture. Look around your real world as confirmation of your worth: the compliment from a teacher/work colleague about a piece of work you have done, the feeling of achievement when you have reached that goal you have set yourself.

Minimise your notifications

Change your notifications or turn them off altogether, putting you in charge of when you check your apps.

Give yourself a social media break

Give yourself a social media ‘holiday’ for a week, write down a list of the pros and cons of using it so that when you log back in you do so with a purpose.

And finally….

Social media can be great, it helps us to keep in touch and connect with the world in so many ways, the trick is to make sure that it does not inadvertently disconnect us.

If you find that social media is having a negative impact on your life and feel you need further help, contact us today.