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Mental Health

Social Media Hurt My Mental Health – How to Not Let It Takeover Your Life

TW: This article talks about anxiety and mental health. 

I've had social media since I was in fifth grade. Now you may be thinking, “Wow, that's early.” And yeah, It definitely is. Now, I wasn’t obsessed with it when I was in fifth grade, but my obsession with social media progressed. In middle school, I used it throughout all of my years. I was finding new influencers and trying to put my “best life” out on the internet. I kept using Instagram specifically until I was in ninth grade. My mom talked to me about how much she saw how my obsession with Instagram had affected my mental health. I decided to quit Instagram and I decided it wasn’t for me.

After I deleted Instagram, I realized just how much it truly affected me. I was worried about random strangers finding out stuff about me online, how many followers I had, and if I looked cute in my posts or not. I look back now and realize how unhealthy it was for me to have those feelings. I do wish that I had waited to use social media, but oh well, life happens. I went from ninth grade to my senior year without using Instagram and it was honestly amazing. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything and I didn’t have to worry about how I looked in my posts or how many likes I got. 

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During my senior year, I decided to give Instagram another try. I felt myself slowly creeping back into my old ways of social media obsession, but honestly, I wasn’t too concerned as it wasn’t affecting my mental health. Fast-forward to 2020 when we are in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests. I saw so many people posting on Instagram about different ways to help and what to do and what not to do (which is amazing!). I contributed by trying to educate myself and others about this topic. Unfortunately, this all became information overload for me and I became increasingly anxious whenever I saw these Instagram stories about BLM or the Coronavirus. 

I want to make it abundantly clear that I support the Black Lives Matter movement fully and believe that Coronavirus must be taken seriously, but all at once, I felt so worried. I had thoughts like, “Am I a good person?”, “These topics are so important to me, why do I feel so anxious reading about them?”, or the worst one, “You’re a terrible person for not reading everyone’s stories.” I realized that I was obsessively checking my phone because if I didn’t read everyone’s posts that they were sharing, I was part of the problem. And that is just not true. I came to the understanding that I was obsessed with social media again. I then fell into a very deep state of constant anxiety and just felt extremely sad all the time because it felt like the world was just burning down all around me. 

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I do have to recognize my privilege. I am a white cisgender woman who does not have to worry about the color of my skin, my sexuality, or my gender making my life difficult. I understand that there are so many communities that struggle each day because of discrimination and I am in no way trying to compare my mental health to the struggles of the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. 

I am still trying to find a healthy balance of using social media and also keeping my mental health at a good level. I find myself randomly checking Instagram for no reason and just endlessly scrolling, but I try to catch myself. One thing that has helped me a lot is turning off notifications for apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. It helps me forget about it more. 

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I have realized that a lot of the struggle is staying mindful about it and that just because you read things on the internet doesn’t mean that it is always true and helpful for you. 

I hope my experience with my social media helps you identify unhealthy habits when it comes to endlessly scrolling and taking in every single thing that somebody posts. Remember, focus on yourself and how to make yourself better for the betterment of everyone in your life, but most importantly yourself. 

 

Ivie Maher

CU Boulder '23

Ivie is a junior studying political science. She loves dogs, bunnies, and ice cream. She loves the outdoors and feels right at home here in the mountains. You can catch her cooking green bean casserole (her favorite), finding new music, or writing her newest article.
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