Instagram: Social Media Anxiety Disorder
I was initially planning to do a post on my Autumn Skincare routine this morning but I was having a blah day anyway so that got quickly scrapped and I decided to write about something more important when I was reminded that today is World Mental Health Day! So I'm pushing my beauty post back a week to talk about Social Media Anxiety Disorder or SAD/SMAD. Have you heard of it?
I know that today people would have been talking about a whole host of different mental health issues, all very important, but as a blogger I felt compelled to particularly focus on the ways social media can affect our mental health, something that I fear can be easily overlooked.
I first came across this idea back at university, while I was studying for my psychology undergraduate degree. During an Individual Differences lecture, the class discussed the growing phenomenon of Facebook Jealousy. I found it quite amusing actually; it seemed odd to me that people would let something as trivial as a social media platform affect their lives, relationships and mental state.
Back then, social media wasn't as important to me. Fast forward 4 years and I am now a fully fledged blogger, posting on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook daily and obsessing over my statistics on each platform. As a blogger, it's quite natural to be conscious of numbers, especially when it relates to you getting paid. But it becomes a problem when you can't switch off from it. When you can't seem to stay away from your phone, when your mood is affected by the amount of likes/engagement you receive for posts on social media, when you compare yourself to other's feeds and experience FOMO (fear of missing out), all these things are possible examples of developing SMAD.
I know I've felt like that numerous times. Just this weekend, I didn't feel like my photos on Instagram were achieving enough likes and I started getting down about it. I lost followers too, which made me feel worse and then I started to question myself and my abilities. I woke up this morning deflated, unmotivated and just blaaaah! All because I didn't achieve 100 likes on a few photos. Sometimes I actually get nervous posting photos for fear that they won't receive enough engagement. It's exhausting, the amount of time and energy I spend thinking about my feed. Seems silly but then studies have found that social media can be deemed more addictive than cigarettes so maybe not so silly.
It's not all bad though. I'm not trying to scare you away from social media. In fact, positive interactions on social media and even taking selfies can boost self-esteem, according to some recent studies (though I don't know how cos taking selfies makes me feel even worse lol). But just as with all aspects of life, do everything in moderation! Even if you don't suffer from SMAD, I still think we should all be mindful of unplugging from cyberspace from time to time. Take regular breaks from social media. Put your phone far away from you or hide it even, if it means having an hour completely free from checking Instagram or Facebook. Get outside and interact with real-life people. It's needed, I promise.
If you are worried about your relationship with social media, do speak to someone about it. It might be nothing that a "timeout" from social media won't help or it might be something that needs further addressing. Just don't be afraid to check if it's concerning you.
Remember, it's just as important to keep your mind healthy as it is your body!