So you have a roadmap for slaying your goals and system to maintain productivity, but self-doubt and comparison are kicking your butt. I remember the days when I would waste time scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn to stock the accomplishments of friends and acquaintances. I always felt like it was my way of staying “connected” and up-to-date with each person. In reality, I was just either making myself either feel better or worse about my life due to comparison. In this post, I want to share the effects social media had on my depression, and how ditching social media set me free. My hope is that this post will help you stop using social media so you can thrive and reach your goals on your terms.
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The Effects of Social Media on Depression
According to Pew Research Center, roughly half of social media users ages 18 to 24 (51%) say it would be hard to give up social media. This statistic was, and often times still is, true for me. In high school up until undergrad, I was addicted to social media, especially Facebook. I would go online and without even thinking my fingers would type Facebook.com. Unfortunately visiting Facebook was a distraction from trying to get work done. Inevitably I always lost hours of my productivity each time I ended up on Facebook. On top of that, social media fed my feelings of inadequacy due to comparison. I would see friends in happy relationships while I was attracting a constant stream of jerks. All my acquaintances seemed to always be on amazing international trips while I was trapped in school or sitting at home. Everyone was getting multiple amazing internships or jobs while I struggled to just find a decent one. The list goes on and on, and so did my thoughts about how inadequate I was. Whether someone was doing “better” or “worse” than I was, was irrelevant. Either way, social media made my depression worse because it stole the joy from my own amazing life. I was comparing my happiness to a standard of happiness that was defined by others. This caused me to undermine my own growth and accomplishments in the process.#SocialMedia made my #depression worse because it stole the joy from my own amazing life. https://goo.gl/Lmg7Mu Click To Tweet
Stop Using Social media
I started to realize the effects of social media on my depression. Social media made my mental health worse and made me disconnected rather than connected. Once I realized this I knew something had to change. While in graduate school I started using a timed website blocker called Self-Control app. This blocker helped me to stop using social media by blocking distraction websites for a specified amount of time. This helped me to not randomly end up on Facebook, and to be more productive with my time. However, this did not help with the feelings of comparison. This is why I made the decision to delete my Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. This was all the social media that I used at the time. I wanted to actually be connected with people I was close to in real life, not social media. I also wanted to stop comparing my unique life and journey to the highlight reels and equally unique journey of others. So in December of 2014, I deleted all of my accounts.
The Benefits of Ditching Social Media
I maintained my break from Instagram for 6 months and from Facebook for 21 months. Looking back my hiatus from my social media truly transformed me. I had enhanced productivity, I felt free from comparison, and felt more connected with my true friends. Facebook was my main time waster, so when I deleted my account I was able to better utilize my time. When I had H.W. or projects I would bump things up a notch and still use the Self-Control app to block websites like YouTube. This helped me stay 100% focused. Not using social media also forced me to actually text my friends to know what was going on in their lives. This helped me to feel more connected. Since I was not just seeing their daily highlight reels, I realized that things are not always as they appeared. Did I keep up with everyone I have ever met in life? NO. But I had the phone number of the people that truly mattered to me and appreciated my time and energy. Not being bombarded with the highlight reels of everyone I have ever met also helped me. It freed me from comparing myself to others as much. This, in turn, helped my self-esteem tremendously. Once I decided to reactivate each account it was not because I missed it or needed it at all. In June of 2015 I reactivated my Instagram to stay in contact with a friend that was moving out of the country. Then in September of 2016, I reactivated my Facebook for a job I had. I still have a tendency to fall back into addictive habits with social media, so I still take social media breaks as needed.
Are You Ready to Stop Using Social Media?
Ditching social media was hard for me, but social media made my depression worse. My hope is that if you realize that social media has begun to consume your life and affect your mood that you will make the choice to free yourself from that burden. As always, everyone’s experience with mental illness is different. Ditching social media was one of many things that helped me to fight my depression and be productive. My hope is that it will help you too. This may not be right for you but don’t lose hope. I believe there is a perfect solution for every unique situation. If you suffer from severe mental illness or thoughts of suicide I want to encourage you to seek help today. Find a local therapist or contact the National Suicide Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting “START” to 741-741.
If you have ever taken a social media hiatus or has social media made your depression worse? If so, please share your experience in the comments. You sharing may just be the nudge someone else needs.
**This blog was last edited 08/22/1029**