Almost all of us have a social media account. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are all growing in popularity and increasingly dominating our lives. Social media has become more than a just personal experience. News reports use tweets and posts as sources for stories. Relationships begin and end on timelines. Social media companies are even being investigated by the government for their role in politics. It can be wonderful but overwhelming. Let’s take a look at the benefits and disadvantages of social media and how to healthily use it in your life.

Before we begin, it is important to remember that social media literally messes with your brain. It physically makes you feel good to check out your timeline. Studies have shown that every time you interact on social media, your brain produces dopamine. This is the same chemical released in your brain after a workout or eating a food or drink you love. It can explain why we sometimes feel addicted to checking our stats. So, the next time you find yourself constantly refreshing your feed to see how many people liked your selfie, remember your brain is seeking a reward. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind as we look at the benefits of social media.

Social media keeps you connected.

Social media is a great way to connect with others. Whether it is an old friend from high school or a family member who lives far away, one of the best reasons to get on social media is to connect with people. If your job or physical abilities keep you from socializing in your offline life, then being able to connect online can be incredibly important. Or you may have a specific hobby that no offline friends are interested in. Social media can give you the opportunity to learn more about your hobby and expand your circle of friends who share your passion. We all need a social circle for support, humor and love. There is nothing wrong with meeting these needs on social media.

Social media can improve your business.

Social media is also a great way to make money. You can start, promote and grow a business opportunity for yourself and others. And we do not just mean your friends who want you to buy toothpaste, jewelry, loud leggings and makeup. If you have ever dreamed of starting your own business, marketing has never been cheaper. Setting up a good Instagram feed can instantly increase your customer base. Even larger companies have realized the importance of social media. It is a way to reach customers directly. You can also make sure you are supporting local businesses that share your values and ideals by following them on social media.

While connecting with people and customers is amazing, social media can also be difficult. Here are two reasons why.

Social media can make you feel lousy.

Social media can make you feel unworthy, unloved and jealous. Everyone is constantly posting their good hair days, vacation memories and putting their best self forward. Rarely, if ever, does someone post when they yelled at their kids, fell apart at work or struggled through the day. Instead, we see what they want us to see – their projected, perfect life. This can be difficult to see, especially if your life feels boring or unfulfilling. It becomes easy to compare our lives to theirs and become judgmental and jealous.

Social media can overwhelm you.

If you follow news outlets on social media, you may quickly feel overwhelmed with the amount of information at your fingertips. There are times when your timeline might feel like the world is ending right this very second. And if the news is not bad, then your friends might be just as stressful. If there is a lot of drama between friends or family member, checking into social media may feel like entering a mine field. Everyone has an opinion and is free to share it – loudly and often.

This constant onslaught of data is enough to make you want to put your phone down and walk away. Here are a few things you can do to make social media a healthy part of your life.

Curate your feed.

If there are certain people who are causing you problems on social media, then you can take steps to make your feed stress free. Unfollow the friends who cause feelings of jealousy and anger when you see their posts. We all have friends or families who post things that make you want to throw your phone. If their behavior is causing no harm, then there is no need to make a big show of unfollowing. Simply unfollow and move on. If the person has become toxic, then you may need to block or defriend them. Use your discretion so you do not cause drama in your offline life!

Deactivate or delete.

Constantly feeling stressed out about the state of the world is not a healthy way to live. Yes, it is important to stay informed and learn what you can but remember that you are not built to take on the burdens of the world. It is okay to put your account on hold. You can deactivate your account or simply delete the app from your phone. If you feel very stressed, you can even completely delete your account. Your mental health is much more important than staying connected online.

Social media is a great tool to connect with friends, families and the outside world. You can learn the latest news, interact with brands you trust and watch the cutest cat videos ever made. However, it can also easily affect your mental and emotional wellbeing. If your interactions on social media are leading to anxiety, depression and anger, then it is time to log off. Change who you follow or deactivate your account. You can always come back when you are ready.

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