By Rose Haywood
Social media has provided us new ways to come together on a variety of platforms and across cultures, but it may also contribute to feelings of isolation and even depression.
According to a recent study from the University of Michigan, frequent use of Facebook in particular was identified as having a negative impact on one’s sense of well-being.
This effect may only be amplified during the holiday season when people are already prone to stress.
How Social Media Contributes to Depression
The holiday season is a time of heightened contrasts. There are feelings of elation in giving and receiving gifts and connecting with loved ones.
But there can also be feelings of disappointment when things don’t go as planned.
For people who don’t have many opportunities for personal connection this time of year, the holiday season can be particularly challenging.
Social media often contributes to feelings of isolation by painting an unrealistic view of the world.
Peers and acquaintances appear to have hundreds of friends and a multitude of social occasions to attend.
Photographs show euphoric scenes full of loving family members. It’s no surprise that spending a little time in the social media universe can make you feel even worse if you’re already alone and struggling.
Tips on Beating Holiday Depression
The most important tip to avoiding the blues is to keep things in perspective. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to feel great 24/7.
Recognize that the social media landscape is not an accurate reflection of real life, only a very small, handpicked selection of people’s most positive experiences.
You can also make it a point to engage in activities that are likely to make you feel better. Spend as much time with friends and family members as possible.
Turn your attention outward, away from your own negative thoughts. Focus on the world around you and volunteer for one of many causes that needs your help this holiday season.
In this season of excess, keep to your normal routine whenever possible and resist the temptation to overdo it. There will be countless opportunities to overindulge in alcohol, sweets, caffeine, you name it.
These short-term highs can work wonders on your mood level, but are absolutely lethal to a strong sense of mental health and stability any time of year.
Social Media Tips to Keep in Mind During the Holidays
Social media sites take up so much of our time and attention nowadays; they’re creeping into every corner of our lives. Many workplaces now encourage the use of social media platforms for their employees.
Shopping online, watching TV, attending parties, it seems there’s always a ‘share this’ or ‘discuss’ or ‘check-in’ button for any normal, routine event you can imagine.
The need for good social media etiquette is stronger than ever before, especially during the holidays when people are already at risk for depression.
The best advice in this area is to maintain a balanced approach to social media for the holiday season. Share your thoughts, photographs and experiences with others, but don’t overdo it. People enjoy hearing about what others are doing this time of year, but it’s also easy to get overwhelmed.
For example, it’s fine to share pictures of a holiday party or family gathering, but it’s important to ask whether or not people are comfortable having their photos (or photos of their children) publicly posted to your networks.
Don’t forget to be mindful of the guest list; you don’t want to unintentionally offend anyone who was not invited.
Remember that social media is a whole world unto itself. You don’t have to take everything you see and read literally.
Keep a balanced outlook and realize that people generally try to project a certain image of themselves online. The holiday season can be lots of fun, but it can also bring up a lot of difficult emotions involving tenuous family relationships.
If you find that social media is dampening your holiday spirit, you may want to think about taking a ‘digital detox’ to fully focus on your real-world connections.
Rose Haywood is a social media aficionado and freelance marketing consultant. She hails proudly from Asheville, NC but resides for the time being right outside of Atlanta, GA. Feel free to reach out to her directly via twitter.
Additions by Douglas Eby (author of the TalentDevelop sites):
Photo: “A 15-year-old cellphone novelist, tapped out a three-volume bestseller, becoming one of Japan’s top authors of a genre called keitai — cellphone — novels.” From my Inner Writer post Bunny – a Japanese cellphone novelist.
Elaine Aron on holiday stress relief for sensitive people – “Fight the commercialization, which affects you as it creeps in, presenting things you can feel expected to do because everyone else does.
“Think consciously and deliberately how you will make this a meaningful time for you and others. At the same time, watch your expectations…Plan to be riled up by some feelings from the past and see what you can learn from them.”
“What do you get when you are spending more than you planned, eating too much, not sleeping enough, hanging out with people you don’t see regularly, being stuck indoors, and dealing with bad weather? A recipe for some serious holiday stress! Stress is a big deal and worth preventing. It causes daily symptoms including…” – Read more about the online class “How to Thrive Under Holiday Stress” with Alan Christianson, a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in natural endocrinology.
New classes are presented live daily, then available in the library, for subscribers to the en*theos Academy for Optimal Living.