Is Facebook Bad for Your Mental Health?

Facebook is bad for your mental health.Ping. Ping ping ping. Swoosh. Ping.

Oh hi. Hello. I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. Ping. Sorry. Okay, I’ll put this thing away. I posted a video of my dog on Facebook this afternoon; he learned to hula hoop. I had to share. The people love it. Ping ping ping.

That’s one way to start a conversation with a friend, a business partner or a would-be lover.

Personally, I prefer to communicate, to become acquainted with others in analog.

Since its inception in February 2004, Facebook has been used as a gathering place to meet like minds and to like faces; to stay connected with old friends; and of course, to share cat memes and argue over Dexter’s fate. But these days we argue over other things too, real life things with real consequences. Now, instead of bringing people together our collective constant presence on Facebook is tearing them apart.

Facebook might be bad for your mental health.

Arguments. The comments section. It’s all compounded by the comparisons. Your college roommate has it all: the husband, the house, the baby. Her life is perfect. Or it seems that way. Her life may be great, but yours is too. That’s hard to remember sometimes when filters so easily mask credit card debt and sleepless nights.

The truth is, Facebook is making us all pretty unhappy. A Danish research firm, the Happiness Research Institute, has the evidence to prove it. A study conducted among 1,095 Facebook users asked participants to not log in to the site for a period of seven days. A control group was instructed to maintain normal activity. At the end of the study period, those who abstained were 55 percent less likely to feel stressed and reported many fewer instances of restlessness or loneliness. Of the control group, 81 percent reported feeling ‘happy’ while 88 percent of non-Facebook users felt happiness.

“Facebook is a constant bombardment of everyone else’s great news, but many of us look out of the window and see grey skies and rain, especially in Denmark.” said Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute said. “The main takeaway from this study is awareness of the negative aspects that social comparisons have, and how we should be mindful of how Facebook and social media affect how we evaluate our lives.”

It’s true of Denmark, and of Washington DC and Bethesda MD too. When envy and conflict rise over community and the generous spirit of sharing good tidings, it might be time to consider taking a break — for seven days or longer. Spend the time you’d take to share the video of our friend’s hula hooping dog, and read a book with your toddler; linger a little longer over the dinner table; and take care to take care of yourself first.

Prioritize Your Mental Health in 2017

make your mental health a priorityWhile your friends and family are resolving to cook more dinners at home; to lose 50 pounds; to travel more; or to check seeing Tom Petty in concert off the old bucket list, but you’re starting smaller: with yourself. You’ve decided the year 2017 is the year of you.

2017 is the year you have chosen to make your mental health your priority.

Your mental health affects how you think, how you feel, and how you act every day, in every situation. Your mental health affects the way you perceive yourself and how your friends, loved ones, and strangers perceive you too. Your New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to become a better — nay, the best version of yourself by improving your mental health.

Meditate.

The practice of meditation has been shown to offer a variety of health benefits, including improved sleep and decreased anxiety. But it is a practice. To reap the rewards — even and especially when the status quo is ‘busy’ — set aside ten minutes per day to quiet the noise. Take a few moments to reflect on the day; express gratitude for the blessings in your life, and focus on becoming fully present.

Commit to regular exercise.

Exercise is great not only because it releases endorphins in your brain that make you a happier version of yourself, but it helps you work toward that other goal of losing weight. Even better, when the weather is nice, get outside. Research has suggested that walking outdoors surrounded by nature has even more mood-boosting power.

Find your tribe.

Winter is cold and it’s dreary, and for those who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) it’s even worse, but getting out of the house — social connection and bonding are imperative to mental health, so go on. Get out of the house and do something fun; make new friends. Go to the beach, or schedule a car service for a night on the town. It’ll be worth it.

Eat well.

Healthy eating leads to healthy bodies and healthy minds. Strive to incorporate many different types of fruits and vegetables in your diet, and other tasty brain boosting foods like walnuts. Don’t skip meals, and stay hydrated, and you’ll be well on the path to prioritizing your health and mental well being all year long.

Schedule an appointment with your Washington DC psychotherapist.

The wisdom and guidance of a professional psychotherapist in Washington DC can help you onto a path of self-discovery, and toward more effective methods of dealing with depression, stress, anxiety, and every day life.

Contact Keith Miller Counseling & Associates to discuss how psychotherapy in Washington DC can help you achieve your goal of a happier, healthier you in 2017.

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Call 202-629-1949