As a blogger I spend a lot of time on social media but as someone who suffers with anxiety I do wonder sometimes if it is good or bad for me. The main platform I spend time on is Instagram and of course with Instagram comes the idea of the Insta-perfect life. However I’m not sure that is how Instagram is for me because of who I choose to follow. I enjoy following pretty Instagram accounts as much as the next person but generally I follow the more ‘real life’ accounts and because I’m a mum most of those accounts tend to be parents apart from the odd guilty pleasure related celebrity.
So with all that in mind does social media actually affect mental health? After all, I generally follow mums like myself who show off the real side of parenting; the good and the bad.
As part of coping with my anxiety and my (hopefully) recovery process I try to push myself as much as I can and put myself in situations where my anxiety might manifest itself. This way of coping isn’t for everyone and sometimes it hugely backfires on me but sometimes I surprise myself and I make a tiny step forward. Because of this even if social media sometimes negatively affects me I won’t remove it from my life because I enjoy spending time on it.
The main negative impact I find it has on me is due to the part of my anxiety related to health or bad things happening. For example, if I am watching somebodies story about their little one being poorly I can sometimes worry that that will happen to us or if something horrible has happened to someone, like a burglary then it sticks with me and I double check my doors are locked that evening. I am aware this all sounds very irrational but it is how my mind works unfortunately. Most of the time I can rationalise it, this only happens if I am having a bad day.
The other negative is of course the insta perfect life. It is easy as a parent whether you suffer from anxiety or not to look at a snapshot of someones day and wonder why yours isn’t like that. But that’s just it. It’s easy to forget that the photo of someones child nicely playing when yours is screaming is just a snapshot of their day and they’ve probably had rubbish parts in their day too. Likewise you probably have had nice moments too, it’s just easier to remember the rubbish. Everyone’s days have peaks and troughs.
So after all this moaning, you must be wondering what on earth I actually do get out of social media. Well this is what I get; reassurance, support, happiness. There is a whole wealth of information out there on social media being shared by other people. There is always someone to ask for advice and there is always someone to let you know that you aren’t alone even if they don’t even realise they’ve done it. Seeing someone elses day on their own with the kids, makes me feel less alone. Seeing someone elses post about their anxiety normalises my mental health a little for me. Receiving comments of love and support makes me smile. This is why I stay on social media, this is why I’m hooked on Instagram and this is why I won’t let my anxiety take that away from me.
This, of course isn’t the case for everybody. I know people who have really struggled with social media and have come off it for their own mental health and that’s great. To be able to recognise that something isn’t necessarily good for you is a wonderful thing. Other people can get addicted to social media, mindlessly scrolling through other peoples lives and not really getting anything from it isn’t healthy either.
Social media has it’s peaks and troughs just like life and you just have to find the balance for your own mental health.