9 ways Facebook affects your mental health (And what you can do)

Frustrated man looking at computer and checking Facebok

Face it, you don't always feel so great after checking Facebook.

Maybe it's the oodles of cute baby pictures your friend just posted. Or maybe it's the mounds of vacation pictures your classmate just shared.

This then sends you into a negative thought spiral. You wonder how your friend's baby looks that cute and how your classmate can even afford to go on that trip? You're not alone. It's OK to admit it.

There are many ways that Facebook affects your mental health.

OK, then. So how do you break free from it all and give your mental health a boost?

Step one: you admit that Facebook does not always make you feel so great about yourself.

Step two: you flip your mindset and go about it in a different way. Read on for 9 common ways that Facebook messes with your mental health and 9 easy things to try to regain your composure.

9 ways Facebook affects your mental health

One: You frequently compare yourself to others

Facebook exists so that we stay connected to (ahem, stalk) our friends and family. With so much sharing of information going on, we are bound to compare our lives to the lives that we see on the computer screen. When that happens, it's only a matter of time before we feel like our lives just don't measure up.

Solution:

Realize that no good can come of this. Your life will always be your life, and their lives will always be theirs. You have no power to control anything about the lives of your friends. The only thing you can control is what you do in this moment right here. And in the next moment. And then the next.

Moment by moment, if you do what is right for you, you will see that you are responsible for your life. And the more time you focus on yourself and on doing things that bring you joy, you will find that it is easier to look at your friends' lives on Facebook without getting jealous.

Two: You feel left out

Here's a common Facebook malady. You're going about your day, minding your own business, when BAM. You just saw that Matt and Andrea went to the movies without you!

What!? You had talked to them earlier in the week about how you wanted to go with them! Why did they do that to you? This is, most definitely, the end of the world.

Solution:

Maybe it's a misunderstanding. Maybe they didn't mean to leave you out. How about you call or text Matt or Andrea? If they did intentionally ditch you, well at least now you know, and now you can spend your time looking for friends who treat you better. Don't get stuck in the misery of insecure anxiety--take action to figure out if your fears are founded.

Three: You think your life pales in comparison to others

Forget about feeling left out. Facebook also has the interesting ability to make us feel like our lives, our entire existence, is just not as great compared to others. If Facebook is a social mirror, it's no ordinary mirror. It's a wacky funhouse mirror that distorts the image we see when we look into it. We recognize the shapes, figures, and events that we see, but the reflection we get back is not too flattering. We don't look as svelte as we thought.

Solution:

You have no way of knowing how your friends and family actually feel about their lives. You really don't know if what they are doing is bringing them joy. Facebook is designed so that people only share what they want everyone else to see. You don't see the other 99% of the stuff that happens in your friends' lives, the stuff that most definitely is not so glamorous.

Four: You don't know what happened to the last few hours of your day

Facebook can pull us into a time warp. We go into it thinking we are going to leisurely spend a few minutes scrolling through our news feed. You know, just to catch up a little bit with what Becky and Sally are doing right now.

What's that? You notice that Becky's friend looks awfully similar to someone you knew in high school! Maybe he is that person from high school. Better click on that person's picture to find out. Before you know it, you have just spent 20 minutes stalking a total stranger.

If you're not careful, Facebook will eat your time. Its appetite is insatiable, and if you don't have the willpower or the systems in place to protect your time, Facebook will become your time.

Solution:

Set rules for yourself before you dive into the belly of the beast. Give yourself 10 or 15 minutes to check Facebook. Then, be done with it! Better yet, set a timer to go off when your Facebook frenzy is over.

Also, you could check Facebook only once or twice a day. Pick one short time block in the morning and a somewhat longer one later in the day after work. If you schedule social media time into your day, you might find that it doesn't take over your life.

Five: You can't stop looking at pictures of your ex

Facebook is great for looking at pictures of people you like, even people you love. But what happens when someone you love becomes someone you hate? Better yet, what if that person you hate is still your Facebook friend?

It might be hard to stay away. Soon, you are sucked in, creepily scanning through pictures to see if your ex has met someone new, and now your happiness is tied to something that is completely outside of your control. It's a slippery slope.

Solution:

Don't do this. Really. Just don't. It's not a good idea. I don't see a lot of benefits coming from this.

When your happiness barometer is whether or not your ex meets someone knew, the scales eventually tip towards doom and gloom.

Six: You didn't get enough "likes" on that last post

Remember when you first started using Facebook? It was great. You posted something and you got four likes! Pretty cool.

Then you posted something else and got seven likes! Wow, you think, that's more friends than I have in real life! I'm pretty awesome. This goes on for a while, and you get a steady number of likes after each post. But then the inevitable happens.

That which once brought you joy no longer does. Now it takes receiving more and more likes to get the same amount of joy. Something evil is happening here, and you feel that if you can just get maybe 4 or 5 likes, you will be happy.

Beware: chasing happiness never leads to happiness.

Solution:

Start sharing things on Facebook because it makes you feel good. Focus on content that is meaningful to you, content that you truly just want to share with others because you think it will benefit them. If you do that, you won't mind as much if what you post doesn't get as many likes as you hoped it would.

Instead of seeking validation on Facebook, go to your friends and family members in real life. You should want to surround yourself with people who look out for you and have your best interests in mind. Don't let the Facebook Wizard of Oz behind the curtain control how much support you get from people. [bctt tweet="It's not wise to put a social media gatekeeper in control of getting your emotional needs met." username=""]

Seven: You're frequently annoyed by others' posts

At this point, you might be aware that you need to take a break. You've been frustrated with what people share on Facebook before, but now it seems like every other post--no, every post--is annoying you. You think, Why do people share that kind of thing? I can't believe he just said that. He totally doesn't believe it.

If you find that each time you log on to Facebook a negative storyline materializes in your head, you're no longer getting the social connection benefits of simply checking in to monitor what's going on with your friends. If this is always happening to you, it might be time to make a change.

Solution:

It's probably time to take a Facebook break. If you notice yourself getting upset every time you check Facebook, stay away from it for a while. Try to go without Facebook for a day. Note how you feel. If your mood improves, then you can venture back in.

And don't worry. Facebook will still be there when you come back.

Eight: You're convinced the world in a state of never-ending crisis

Oh no. You didn't heed my advice. You are 

still 

checking Facebook, despite your increasingly foul mood. You know you don't like how this has been making you feel, but you just can't stop.

Your thoughts about what you see on Facebook have shifted from minor annoyance to major frustration to all-out Armageddon proportions. Everything you see--from news sources, from your friends, from your second-grade teacher, Ms. Jones--it's all bad! No one understands the world anymore. Only 

you

know what is truly going on!

Solution:

It's really time to take a break. The media--and that includes social media--is all about shocking you into feeling something. It doesn't describe the world as it actually is. If you're feeling this bad about the world after spending time on Facebook, you have to do something different. Your mental health is important.

Try volunteering. Do something nice for a stranger. Offer to help a friend in some way, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem to you.

When you choose to help others, you develop gratitude for what you have in life. And it's impossible to fixate on the negatives when feeling grateful.

Nine: You've thought about deleting your account

It's the end of days. The unthinkable has occurred. You are thinking about deleting your account. With such desperate measures even being considered, you better just read below.

Solution:

I'm assuming you don't actually want to delete your account. I know I don't. There are still some benefits to being on Facebook, even if it seems hard to imagine It's time to be intentional about focusing on your mental health. Take your emotional wellness seriously and get off Facebook for at least three days, maybe a week. Schedule in activities throughout the upcoming week that you know you enjoy. Make a plan to spend time with your friends.

Do things that put you first. This is the only life you get. Live it fully present and in control of what you want to experience. See your life by being present in the moment rather than seeing it on a screen in relation to countless other lives. It all looks real and significant on the computer screen, but it's not.

The best way to improve your mental health is to put yourself and your experiences first. Do that, and you may find that you actually do want to share what you have been doing on Facebook. That's OK because you will have something to share. It's totally fine to do that from time to time.right now.

[bctt tweet="Just remember: you first need to live your life before you post about it on Facebook." username=""]

happy person with good mental health
happy person with good mental health

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