Considerations Around Adjusting Social Media Use This Holiday Season
Social media provides us with opportunities to connect and communicate with one another, engage in topics that resonate with our values, navigate support networks, and express ourselves through various platforms. With the benefits of social media also comes potential for experiencing social comparison pressure that negatively impacts our self-esteem and mental health. Such pressure can be amplified during the holiday season, a time when many people might find themselves increasingly susceptible to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Scrolling through our Instagram feeds and seeing photos of smiling faces directed at a turkey at the center of the dinner table, parents lifting up children to hang an ornament on their Christmas tree, or people hugging one another with the caption titled: “grateful” can exacerbate these feelings. The accessible and ubiquitous nature of social media contributes to the ways in which we often mindlessly scroll through our feeds, not necessarily aware of how seeing depictions of happiness and festivities during this holiday season heighten our own feelings of loneliness.
If you find yourself feeling low as you scroll and comparing your circumstances to the seemingly perfect moments depicted by others on social media, consider participating in a social media detox, or adjusting the amount of time spent scrolling. Reducing time on social media creates increased opportunities for participating in alternative, nourishing activities. Here are some ideas of potential replacement activities aimed at improving self esteem during this holiday season:
Move your body - Turn on a podcast and go for a walk, locate a Citibike or stationary bike and try out a ride, find a spot outside to test some yoga poses (no judgment on form here!) Moving your body in a way that feels good to you can help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy
Swap out the screen for face-to-face social interactions
Consider participating in activities among others with common interests
Lean into community supports and help yourself through volunteering and helping others
Reorient to what you have - Practice keeping a gratitude journal as a grounding activity. Here are some prompts for consideration:
Identify three activities removed from your phone that make you feel nourished. Try participating in those activities over the course of the next few days.
Challenge yourself to identify two benefits each day stemming from adjusting your scrolling behaviors. Maintain a log of those perceived benefits.
Visualize situations or opportunities that make you feel connected with others. Write down the qualities of those circumstances and what you receive and offer within those experiences.
Initiate meaningful contact - Consider reaching out to family or friends. For those who feel distant from family – whether that be physically or emotionally – lean into chosen family and suggest a friendsgiving potluck.
Additional tips for adjusting social media use:
By: Laura Kiernan
Mental Health Counseling Intern
El-Khoury, J., Haidar, R., Kanj, R. R., Bou Ali, L., & Majari, G. (2020). Characteristics of social media ‘detoxification’ in university students. Libyan Journal of Medicine, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1080/19932820.2020.1846861
Naslund, J. A., Bondre, A., Torous, J., & Aschbrenner, K. A. (2020). Social Media and Mental Health: Benefits, risks, and opportunities for research and Practice. Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science, 5(3), 245–257. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41347-020-00134-x