Can Social Media Actually HELP Anxiety?!
We've all heard about past studies that show spending too much time on social media can lead to anxiety, depression, and feeling super-overwhelmed, but new research has found that your feeds can offer mental-health benefits if they’re used as a means to express your emotions (I've been preaching this for awhile now...just call me Albert Einstein moving forward, ladies and gents).
Microblogging—AKA mini blog posts on social media, AKA Facebook status updates and tweets—can actually help reduce negative emotions if you struggle with social anxiety. In a study reecently published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers found those who don’t want to talk to someone one-on-one could reap the same benefits of sharing emotions in therapy, with a mentor or a trustworthy figure in their life by publishing them online. Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not telling you to overshare on social media, but to think of how you can leverage the power of social media to express yourself in a way that's not only beneficial to your own personal health, but that may inspire another to be more honest with themselves as well.
“When people feel badly, they have a need to reach out to others because this can help reduce negative emotions and restore a sense of well-being,” Eva Buechel, PhD, said in a press release. “But talking to someone face-to-face or on the phone might feel daunting because people may worry that they are bothering [the other person]. Sharing a status update on Facebook or tweet on Twitter allows people to reach out to a large audience in a more undirected manner.”
While plenty of people microblog (whether they realize they’re doing it or not), this research shows those who are higher on the social apprehension scale are more likely to use the platforms after experiencing negative emotions. Those who are lower, on the other hand, typically go for sharing face-to-face or sending DMs.
“There is a lot of research showing that sharing online is less ideal than having communication in person, but these social networks could be an important communication channel for certain individuals who would otherwise stay isolated,” Dr. Buechel said.
I am a firm believer that depression is a result of feeling like you're alone - alone in your problems and burdens. Choosing to be vulnerable and transparent about the struggles in your life (we're so used to only sharing the good times - the vacations, the celebrations - on social media) allows others to see past the curated, pretty stuff and give them hope that life is real and raw sometimes. You never know how you can change around another person's life by being honest and giving them hope that they're not alone.
Even though there are some perks to microblogging your negative emotions, Dr. Buechel added that it’s not optimally healthy to fully rely on the method. So, rant about your day in a lengthy post when you feel like it, but don’t avoid reaching out to friends IRL too.