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  • Writer's pictureMoe | Scarlet Plus

the Hidden Impact of Social Media on Our Moods: Insights You Haven't Heard Before


From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram, social media has seamlessly woven itself into our daily lives, with some studies indicating we devote up to 6 hours a week navigating through these platforms. This extensive engagement with social media is inevitably leaving its mark on our mental well-being.

While it's widely acknowledged that our day-to-day existence is deeply entangled with the virtual realms of social media, there's an under-discussed aspect concerning its profound influence on our mental health and emotional states. The emotional rollercoaster triggered by our online interactions is palpable, prompting a deeper reflection on how we engage with social media in pursuit of mental serenity and joy.

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Social media and mental health

Social media has become a ubiquitous presence in our lives, but its effects on mental health are becoming increasingly hard to ignore. Platforms that were designed to bring us together can sometimes drive a wedge in our mental fortitude, subtly influencing our emotions and well-being. The connection is clear yet complex; while social media offers unprecedented ways to connect, it also presents unique challenges to our mental health.


Mood swings

our moods can swing dramatically in the echo chamber of social media. A string of positive comments can elevate our spirits, while a negative interaction or the perceived lack of attention can send us spiraling into self-doubt. These mood swings can be frequent and intense, mirroring the unpredictable nature of online interactions and the volatile landscape of public opinion.

4 ways social media affects your mood

1. It encourages addictive behavior

Ever notice how we in the US are glued to social media, clocking up to two hours on weekdays and even more on weekends? That's a lot of scrolling. But careful, this habit could morph into a need for constant digital validation—like a mini-addiction. No official word on that from health chiefs, but if your mood tanks without likes or you're always itching to post, it could be time to ease off the feed and regain some balance.

2. It helps to boost your mood (in the short term)

Lately, there’s been a lot of headlines about the worrying effect of social media on our mood and how it could make us more vulnerable to stress and anxiety (more on this later), but this largely depends on how you use the platform. At Michigan State University, a small study found that active participants on Facebook – those who were responsive to comments and engaged with other users through a group – demonstrated an increase in their well-being compared to more passive users.

This makes sense too, especially when we consider that social media exists to keep us connected with the wider world – if you’re using it in this context, social media platforms like Facebook can actually do a lot to prevent isolation and the emotional baggage that comes with loneliness. 

3. It can inhibit your sleep patterns

Unfortunately, most of us who use social media have found ourselves scrolling when we should be sleeping. A 2017 study of over 1,700 young adults found that those who used social media 30 minutes before bed were more likely to experience poor sleep.

This could be because of the stimulus that social media apps provide but it could also be linked with the blue light waves emitted from their phone screens – these blue light waves can actually inhibit your production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making you feel more awake and alert.

Poor sleep is all very well but how does this impact your mood?

Well, sleep deprivation has a long history of being associated with poorer moods the following day

4. In the long term, it can lower your mood

Social media might give your mood a boost in the short term, but research has found that with greater usage, over time, comes greater consequences for our mental health. . One study, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, found that there was a causal link between social media use and Depression. 

In this experiment, 143 participants were split into two control groups – one group would continue their social media use as usual whereas the other group would have their time on social media restricted. It was found that a more limited use of social media was associated with fewer depressive symptoms such as loneliness. 

This would almost appear to match a growing trend. Despite their popularity, more and more people seem to be leaving social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook and have since reported feeling happier. 


Social Media Effects

Social media's effects span a wide spectrum, influencing various aspects of mental health. For some, it can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression, exacerbating the inherent challenges of self-esteem and identity. For others, it can offer a lifeline—a space for expression and understanding. The effects are rarely uniform, but they are invariably profound, affecting individuals in deeply personal ways.


The Crusade for Digital Wellness

In response to the growing awareness of social media's impact on mental health, the crusade for digital wellness gains momentum. Digital wellness is the pursuit of a healthy balance in our digital lives, encouraging us to use technology in ways that support our mental and emotional well-being. It asks us to be intentional with our screen time, to recognize when social media serves us and when it hinders us.


The Breath of Fresh Air: Social Media Detox

Amidst the clamor for attention in the digital sphere, the concept of a social media detox offers a breath of fresh air. A detox encourages us to step back, to unplug from the relentless pace of online life. It allows us to reset, regain control over our digital consumption, and reflect on our relationship with social media. This pause can be a powerful tool in restoring balance, offering us the chance to recalibrate our mood and improve our overall mental health.

7 habits to help you social media detox

Feeling like you're on a never-ending carousel of notifications and posts? A break from social media might be just what the doctor ordered. Here's a lowdown on seven simple swaps to refresh your day sans the digital buzz.

1. Reconnect with Nature

 Swap those pixels for some real-life greenery. A stroll in the woods, a lazy afternoon in the park, or some quality beach time can work wonders for your state of mind.

2. Dive into a Good Book

: Grab that book that's been collecting dust on your shelf. It's time to dive into another world, no charging is required.

3. Journaling or Creative Writing

 Replace your status updates with a journal entry. Spill your thoughts on paper—it's private, personal, and a great way to sort through your feelings.

4. Try a New Recipe or Bake

 Break out the apron and whip up something new in the kitchen. Not only will you learn a recipe, but you'll also get to devour the results.

5. Engage in Physical Activity

Get your blood pumping with some exercise. Join a local game, jog around the block, or have a solo dance party in your living room.

6. Learn Something New

 Ever wanted to strum a guitar, throw pottery, or speak Spanish? Now's your chance to start learning, no "like" button is needed.

7. Volunteer Your Time

 Got some extra time? Lend a hand at a local charity. It's a win-win—you make a difference, and it feels great.



And remember, this isn't about dissing social media—it's got its perks, connecting us with friends and family, sharing a laugh, or even sparking social movements. But it's also smart to step back and check how it's affecting your vibe. Sometimes, stepping away from the screen might be just the reset you need.

Wholesome Mind Psychiatry is Ready to Help

At Wholesome Mind Psychiatry, we're all about supporting you in recognizing when it's time to seek out a pro. You've got this, and we've got you.



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