Highlighted in the BBC’s Clean Eating’s Dirty Secret last month, the stat was reported earlier this year in the major rags following s study of 19-32 year olds. It found that those who checked social media most frequently throughout the week were 2.7 times more likely to develop depression than those who checked least often.
The study, lead by Dr Brian Primack, covered 1,787 US participants who used social media for an average 61 minutes every day, visiting accounts 30 times per week. However, he did also point out in The Independent that the results were not conclusive and that it could be that “people who are already having depressive symptoms start to use social media more, perhaps because they do not feel the energy or drive to engage in as many direct social relationships.”
Nonetheless, it did highlight a number of 21st century phenomena such as “Facebook depression”, and potential reasons for it. One of the most obvious elements was that the idealized image of peoples’ lives on social media platforms often leaves users feeling a degree of failure if their own real lives don’t match up to the glossy filtered images.
On the other hand, it may be that there’s a bit of a vicious cycle going on: “people who become depressed may turn to social media for support, but their excessive engagement with it might only serve to exacerbate their depression.”
Another strand of the social media/mental health debate questions whether or not we are developing a dependence on social media, and if so, whether that in itself is a mental health problem. Could you go without your Facebook app for 48 hours without breaking into a cold sweat? How many times a day do you feel the need to document your movements with a selfie? Or perhaps more tellingly, how do you feel if your latest update doesn’t get liked or ‘favourited’ by everyone in your network?
It all sounds like a joke, but these are the things that are impacting our day to day wellbeing and in some cases putting a phenomenal amount of pressure on individuals. So perhaps the key is learning to switch off every now and again.
It always seems wonderfully serendipitous to me that if you visit Grayshott Health Spa in Surrey, you’re lucky if you can get phone signal anywhere in the grounds. “Peace on arrival” says the sign above the door – and that couldn’t be more accurate. That said, at any spa you go to it’s common courtesy to turn off your phone or leave it in your locker while you’re going about your spa day for the sake of being polite to everyone else. As it happens however, it’s also part of making the most out of the experience yourself as well.
Much as we all want to post a hot tub selfie on Instagram to show what a wonderful time we’re having, these are sanctuaries for our mental health as well as our physical health, and a wonderful opportunity to switch off in all ways for a while, which turns out to be more beneficial than one might have originally thought!
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