Prioritize Wellbeing: Social Media's Impact on Mental Health

A timely step back: How to prioritise your wellbeing while using social media

Most of us spend several hours on various social media platforms daily. The negative impact of social media on our lives cannot be discounted. Pay heed.

Once upon a time, a lot of us started our mornings by reading the newspaper. Today, some of us still do. However, a majority of us start and end our day scrolling social media. Our liking towards staying online and looking at everyone else’s lives has become so strong that it’s difficult to imagine a day without social media.

Whether we are waiting to board a bus or train to work or taking a break from our studies, the first thing we do is take out our phones and start scrolling through reels, posts and updates. Most of us spend several hours on social media platforms and a direct effect of that has been an increase in mental health issues. Research shows that excessive social media use can have negative effects on our mental health, contributing to anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness. A study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health found that social media use is linked to increased rates of anxiety and poor sleep, especially among young people. Tech moghul Elon Musk had once stated that he believed “there should be regulations on social media to the degree that it negatively affects the public good.” His quote highlights the growing concern about how social media influences our lives and the need for measures to keep a check on it.

World Social Media Day is celebrated on June 30th to recognise and celebrate the impact social media has on global communication. It acknowledges the role various social media platforms play in connecting people. Interestingly, this day also provides us with an opportunity to discuss the responsible use of social media and address its negative effects on individuals and society.

On this day, join us as we explore the effects of social media use on our wellbeing and how we can prioritise the latter.

Irony of being connected and feeling isolation

It is a universal fact that social media connects us all. But as  we start to use it too much, it tends to isolate us from what is real. It’s strange, but the more we get engrossed in our virtual lives, the more our real-life interactions suffer. One reason why this happens is because of the illusion of connection it creates. We might have hundreds of friends or followers, but the interactions often remain superficial. Liking a post or dropping a comment is nothing when compared to having actual meaningful interactions and this ends up leaving us feeling empty and craving for genuine connection.

Further, when we’re always on our phones, our relationships also take a hit. Imagine having a deep conversation with a friend over coffee versus messaging them online. The quality of interactions is simply not the same. That is why it is essential to spend quality time with loved ones in person as it boosts our sense of belonging and happiness.

Heavy impact on mental health

Many of us spend time scrolling through the posts of our colleagues, old schoolmates and even strangers holidaying, partying and succeeding in general on social media. And sometimes, that makes us envious, to see everyone’s life look so perfect. But what one needs to understand is that when we constantly see reels of other people’s joyous lives, it’s easy to feel like we’re not measuring up. Those perfect images and lifestyles can make us feel bad about ourselves. A study by the Royal Society for Public Health has shown that social media usage is connected to higher rates of anxiety and depression. On top of that, the constant need for validation through likes and comments also affects our overall mental wellbeing.

Diving into the mirage of other people’s happiness and suffering due to it is too high a cost to pay for one’s own wellbeing, right?

Disruption of sleep, physical health

After a long, tiring day, many of us look forward to lounging in bed and scrolling through our phones. It’s become a ritual for many—we find ourselves thinking that we’ll watch just one more reel, and end up spending hours glued to our screens. And this habit of using social media before bedtime messes with our sleep cycle. The blue light emanating from our phone screens disrupts the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. This leads to poor sleep quality, leaving many among us tired the next day.

Poor sleep has the power to further weaken our immune system, contribute to weight gain and increase stress levels. Plus, spending hours on social media often means that we’re sitting still for too long, which is not good for our physical health. Such a lifestyle leads to obesity and heart diseases.

A loss of productivity, attention span

Have you ever felt like something’s missing when you don’t have your phone around? Well, you are not the only one feeling that way. Our phones have become such a central part of our lives that it’s hard to imagine being without them. But this constant connection comes at a cost.

The notifications and updates from our social media apps gradually impact our productivity and attention span. They create an urge to check our phones frequently, leading to us being constantly distracted with less focus. According to a research conducted by the University of California, on an average, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain focus on a task after being interrupted. Imagine the number of times we interrupt ourselves to look at our phones then! This behaviour not only lowers our efficiency but also increases stress in the long run.

Way ahead? Responsible use and digital detox

We cannot do without our phones, that’s a given. However, we can try to reduce the negative effects of using it, especially when we explore social media. It’s urgent to promote responsible use and consider regular digital detoxes—start by setting boundaries, such as designated screen-free times and limited app usage. Doing so steadily helps us regain control over our social media habits. In addition to this, engaging in activities that are offline—exercise, hobbies and spending time in nature can promote mental and physical wellbeing and also provide a refreshing break from the digital world.

In a nutshell, World Social Media Day encourages us to think about how we can make our relationship with social media and technology healthier. It’s a chance to think about changes we can make to have a more balanced life. So, next time you feel overwhelmed by social media, try stepping away or engaging in an activity that is offline. You might discover that a step back from screens is the path to feeling better both mentally and physically.


How does excessive social media use impact our wellbeing?

Excessive social media use has been linked to various mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness.

What is World Social Media Day and why is it celebrated?

World Social Media Day is celebrated on June 30th to recognise the impact of social media on global communication.

How can I maintain a healthy balance while using social media?

To maintain a healthy balance, it’s important to set boundaries, have screen-free times, limit app usage and engage in offline activities.

What are the signs that indicate I may need a digital detox?

You may need a digital detox if you feel overwhelmed by social media, experience disrupted sleep patterns and increased stress levels.




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