Could Social Media Be Holding You Back?
It’s probably not shocking that spending time on Instagram can lead to greater body dissatisfaction, more appearance comparison, and a worse mood.
But what might be surprising: Scrolling the ‘gram can have negative effects on mental health in just seven minutes, according to a study of over 300 undergraduate women from Northwestern University.What’s more, a previous study from York University found that women who posted selfies reported feeling more anxious, less confident, and less physically attractive afterward.
1. THIS KIND OF PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH HAS PLENTY OF LIMITATIONS.
It’s hard for studies like this to truly replicate what happens in a real-world environment.But it’s also hard to argue with the idea that social media use can mess with our minds and emotions. And this may be especially true in the health and fitness space, where we’re constantly bombarded with idealistic body images and the moralization of food choices.
2. OUR SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS INFLUENCE HOW WE FEEL ABOUT OURSELVES.
This isn’t limited to just social media. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to the people around us: friends, neighbors, coworkers.There’s even a name for it: social comparison theory. In order to gauge our “success” in any given area of life—including our physical appearance—we look to one another for points of reference.And if we don’t feel like we measure up? It can make us hate on ourselves.No one needs that.
3. IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH STRESS, ANXIETY, OR NEGATIVE EMOTIONS, LOOK AT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA USE.
While it’s not likely the lone cause, it could be “piling on” to other contributors—even if you doesn’t realise it. And that can make it harder to change other behaviors.Sometimes taking a two-week break from health and fitness information, including social media can be very beneficial.
To some people, that can sound… terrifying. Which is why we stress it’s not a “forever” practice. It’s a “try something and see what happens” practice.
Spoiler alert: Many people find it liberating. And it often inspires them to better manage their social media use going forward.