We've all heard about the negative aspects of social media, such as anxious social comparison and the dreaded fear of missing out (FOMO), but in light of it being World Mental Health Day (October 10), let's take a look at the often-underappreciated positive side of social media. Here are three ways that social media can benefit your mental health:
1. Sense of connection and community
Social media is an excellent way to keep in touch with friends, family, and even acquaintances. In our increasingly globalised and digitally sophisticated world, it is quite common to have intimate personal connections in far-flung locations.
It also allows us to easily stay in touch and engaged with those who are dear to us with merely the click of a button. With technology, meaningful connections with our geographically distant loved ones are only an email or webcam away.
2. Accentuate and advertise your achievements and talents
Sharing accomplishments on social media can prompt people in your network to post encouragement, support, and congratulations. These sentiments help build up self-esteem and boost confidence.
Of course, it is not healthy to allow one’s entire sense of validation to come from social media, but a little digital support every now and then can be a very positive thing.
3. Stay engaged in the world around you
Social media is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the community around you. This way, you never have to actually experience FOMO, as you pre-emptively avoid it by already being “in the know.”
Therefore, social media is not all bad; indeed, it’s far from it. While we need to maintain an appropriate balance between our online life and our real lived experience, we can certainly utilise social media to benefit our emotional wellbeing.
In summary, when it comes to social media, a wise and balanced approach makes all the difference between your electronic devices being either agents of toxicity or tools of self-improvement. Using the advice above, hopefully, the latter will more often be the case.
A note on World Mental Health Day
We should continually strive to fight the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and there’s no better time to start than today. Reach out, engage, educate, and be compassionate. No effort ever goes unappreciated, and you never know the positive impact that sharing your story may have on others.
Dr. Michael Eason is a psychologist and US licensed therapist practising at MindnLife in Central, Hong Kong.