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Is Social Media Hurting Your Self-Esteem?

Published by: LifeWorks,

Social networking plays such a large role in our everyday lives. Many people use social networks to stay connected to friends and family and this is a great way to stay in touch. Social media provides us a way to share and interact that has never been possible before. This truly does provide benefits of being able to share exciting news, show pictures of grandkids, and keep you connected across the globe.

But is there a downside to social media?

Some research has called into question how our experience with these exchanges and interactions affects our lives. While it is great to see all these accomplishments from others, it can create an environment where we are constantly comparing ourselves to the achievements of others.

Additionally, for those who feel as if they aren’t achieving as much as their ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ it can have a significant impact on their self-esteem. Similarly, people who aren’t getting the interaction they hope for on social networks can feel as if they are alone and sometimes begin to feel inadequate.

Social media interactions and validation

Younger generations have reported feeling anxious and worried when they are not able to access their social media. While this may not make sense to everyone, younger generations have grown up with social media as an integrated part of their life.

While it has offered them experiences that would not have been possible otherwise, this has shifted how they interact with their peers and how they form their self-esteem. Although external validation has almost certainly always been a part of our self-esteem, social media is a whole new way of receiving that validation.

And social media can truly be validating, but research has shown that the best social network to obtain this validation would be one of your close friends and family.

Easing the negative effects

Social media and electronic interactions are commonplace in our lives today. But how are we to deal with the potential negative impact it can have on our lives?

Start paying attention to your reactions when you’re online. You may begin to feel down about your interactions or to notice you’re harshly comparing yourself to others online. Just by being aware, you can take these negative feelings as a cue to initiate self-care and curb your online use.

Consider the value of these interactions. When you have these types of reactions or feelings, decide how much importance you want to give the interactions. A negative comment on your post doesn’t mean they are attacking you or dislike you as a person. Challenge any negative thinking on your part and remember that you have value.

Take charge of your social media interactions. If certain people or accounts are stirring up a lot of negative emotions, consider unfollowing or unfriending and, instead, look for accounts that share similar interests, provide you with a sense of belonging, and inspire you.

Step away for a while. If you find that you are becoming overwhelmed or bogged down in your online interactions, it may be time to take a break. Even an hour away from your social media to focus on an activity that you enjoy can be highly effective in coping with self-esteem concerns.

Stay in touch with friends and family. We’re truly social beings and research shows that human connection is vital to our emotional wellbeing. Balance your social media use by bonding—in person, if possible—with your close friends or family members. And when you’re together, avoid the temptation of checking your social media. Be present so that you can have a fully bonding experience with your loved ones.

Social media interactions affect everyone differently and it is important to take notice of how you’re feeling and take action to manage any negative interactions. If you’re having trouble finding ways to deal with some of the challenges social media interactions can create, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional or your assistance program to help you work through your concerns and find effective ways to cope.

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