Mental Health

Going Off Social Media: Impact on Mental Health

The very features that make social media appealing can also make it addictive. Understanding social media addiction, its potential harm, and how to adjust habits is crucial for maintaining mental well-being.

By URLife Team
07 Mar 2024

Oh, the smartphone saga! We've all tried the tricks, haven't we? Turning our phone to silent, setting those optimistic timers, or even leaving our digital buddy in another room, thinking, "Out of sight, out of mind." But who are we kidding? The moment that screen lights up, bam! There goes our willpower.


Related story: How To Use Social Media Consciously?


Find joy. Be kind to yourself. Sleep better. Everything you need to beat stress is a click away. Sign up now. 


You convince yourself it's nothing urgent. Maybe just another meme from your best friend that'll make you smile. Or perhaps it's the school parents' group chat, buzzing about who's bringing what to the bake sale. But then, the string of long what-ifs creep in. What if it's something important? What if it's your friend who's been having a tough time? What if it’s from work? Before you know it, you're sprinting to your phone, only to find out... congratulations, you've been added to another group chat. 


Related story: How To Manage Anxiety?


Negative Impacts of Social Media

Let's face it, our phones and apps like WhatsApp are a blessing and a curse. According to a 2021 study issued in the Statista Digital Economy Compass, people around the world spent an average of 142 minutes per day on different social media platforms. This means we're dedicating more than two hours daily to absorbing content that can significantly impact our perspectives, mental well-being, and general mood, either for better or for worse.

They keep us connected, sure, but they've also turned into this never-ending taskmaster. Replying to messages feels like a job that's always on. Trying to focus on our day-to-day tasks feels more like a game of stop-and-go. And for those who think they can just reply later, good luck! Instead of relaxing with some Netflix, you're now looking forward to an evening of playing catch-up with your messages.


Related story: Relieve Anxiety With A Touch of Button


But really, why do we do this to ourselves? What spell does WhatsApp and social media have over us? It's a mix of wanting to stay connected, the fear of missing out, and maybe, just a hint of obligation. Whatever it is, it's clear we're all in this digital dilemma together.

Those who have an addiction to smartphones and social media are usually under a lot of stress and anxiety. In other words, they have high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone in their body. This is mostly common in adolescents and parents. According to a 2021 study issued in the International Journal of Environmental Research And Public Health, people with higher levels of neuroticism, a personality trait characterised by emotional instability, including heightened sensitivity to criticism from others—a feeling closely related to social anxiety—tend to show significant and positive associations with Problematic Smartphone Use (PSU) and other forms of problematic online behaviours. This leads socially anxious people to check their smartphone more frequently in search for notifications, e.g., of incoming messages in online conversations. 

  • Mental Health Issues: As per a 2023 study issued in the journal BMC Psychology, excessive social media use has been linked to various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. The person, often idealised portrayals of life on social media can lead to negative self-comparison, exacerbating feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Frequent social media use, especially before bed, can interfere with sleep patterns. The blue light emitted by screens suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep, leading to difficulties in falling and staying asleep.
  • Isolation and Loneliness: Ironically, while social media connects us to others virtually, excessive use can lead to real-life social isolation and loneliness. It can replace face-to-face interactions with online ones, which are often less satisfying and meaningful.
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): FOMO is an anxiety that others are having rewarding experiences from which one is absent. Social media amplifies this feeling as users are constantly exposed to the highlights of others' lives, prompting feelings of envy, inadequacy, and increased FOMO.
  • Reduced Attention Span: The fast-paced nature of social media content can lead to reduced attention spans and difficulty concentrating on tasks. Constant notifications and the habit of scrolling disrupt focus, making it harder to engage in deep, meaningful work or leisure activities.
  • Cyberbullying: Social media, for all its benefits of connecting people and providing platforms for sharing, unfortunately, also has a darker side. According to a 2023 study issued in the International Journal of Indian Psychology, about 64 per cent percent of teenagers have reported experiencing bullying on these platforms, and they are far from the only victims. Many users, irrespective of age, find themselves at the receiving end of offensive comments and various forms of cyberbullying. Twitter, along with other social media networks, can sometimes become hotspots for spreading hurtful rumours, lies, and abuse.


Related story: Does Social Media Cause Dissociation?


How To Deal With Social Media Effects?

Social media can be like a rollercoaster ride – fun and thrilling at times, but it can also leave you feeling a bit dizzy. Here are some easy ways to keep your head straight: 

1. Press That Unfollow Button: Yes, it might sound harsh, but putting yourself first is crucial. It's time to let go of toxic connections. If someone doesn't bring positivity into your life, it's okay to unfollow or even block them. Social distancing isn't just for pandemics; it's good for your digital well-being too. Don't hesitate to control who has access to your life updates. If anyone makes you feel judged or just doesn't vibe with you anymore, say goodbye. Keeping your circle tight is not only okay, it's healthy.

2. Silence Your Notifications: Having a phone doesn't mean you must be on-call 24/7. We all hit a point where our social battery drains, and the thought of texting back feels like a chore. After a long day, you deserve peace. Social media apps are designed to grab and keep your attention, but don't let them eat into your relaxation time. Turning off notifications can be a game-changer for reclaiming your personal space. Disconnect to reconnect with the real world around you.

3. Follow Accounts That Inspire: After clearing out the negativity, fill your feed with positivity. This switch can truly transform your outlook and self-perception. Say goodbye to accounts that promote unrealistic standards and hello to those that celebrate realness and positivity. 

4. Leverage Social Media for Growth: Instagram can be more than just a time-sink; use it to explore, learn, and grow. Dive into content that enriches your life, whether it's cooking tips, fitness motivation, or career advice. There's also a wealth of content aimed at easing anxiety, like ASMR videos. And never underestimate the power of a good laugh – perfect for those quick breaks during your day.

5. Avoid The Negative News: Remember, not everything on social media is reliable. If you're following official news sources, that's one thing. But take care not to let unofficial, unverified content shape your opinions. Obsessing over negative news can harm your mental health, leading to anxiety and depression. 

Related story: How To Strengthen Relationship in A Socially Distanced World

Last But Not The Least…

  • Turn off non-essential notifications. This can greatly reduce the urge to constantly check your phone.
  • Utilise features like "Do Not Disturb" during work hours or at night to minimise distractions.
  • Make a habit of taking regular breaks from social media, especially if you notice it's starting to affect your mood negatively.
  • Spend more time on hobbies or activities that do not involve screens. This could be reading, crafting, sports, or anything that brings you joy.
  • Make an effort to see friends and family in person. Real-life interactions are crucial for emotional support and happiness.
  • Allocate certain times of the day for social media use and stick to them. Avoid scrolling first thing in the morning or right before bed.


Social networks are meant to be the virtual world where you can take a breather from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. They offer a space for self-expression, a way to stay in touch with friends and family (while still cherishing face-to-face connections), and an opportunity to link up with global communities sharing your interests. Remember, you hold the reins when it comes to your social media experience. You decide what you see, who you interact with, and how you engage with the platform. 


Find joy. Be kind to yourself. Sleep better. Everything you need to beat stress is a click away. Sign up now. 




How to upload prescription?

Follow Us On Instagram