Using Social Media to Improve Health

September 22, 2019

Social media icons on an iPhone

It is no secret that social media gets a bit of a bad reputation for damaging people’s health. This is something I have spoken about before in my post “Time for a digital detox?” which you can read here.

 

Studies have shown this has predominantly impacted mental health by lowering people’s self-esteem from the use of social comparison, creating envy towards other people’s lifestyles shown online, and general feelings of unhappiness. Physical effects are also noted such as having a negative impact on memory and sleep.

 

Not to mention the impact of cyberbullying, something you will be familiar with if you recently caught up with Jesy Nelson’s ‘Odd One Out’ documentary. I highly recommend giving it a watch! Jesy shows how these issues don’t just affect celebrities but also everyday people in society. You can watch it here.

 

Although these consequences are known, social media activity is a feature in daily life for most people, particularly the young. Not forgetting this also has its benefits may I add! Social media helps keep you in contact with loved ones (particularly those living far away) and has also helped raise awareness of issues in society, whilst also promoting support in tacking these issues – remember the #MeToo movement for sexual harassment or abuse? Or how about #ExtinctonRebellion encouraging the Government to take action on climate breakdown? Social media was a huge driver in getting causes these known.

 

This post aims to highlight how people can use social media to not only reduce the risk of poor health but also improve it too!

 

1. Find your role model

There are SO many inspiring people who use their social media platform to motivate and encourage people to lead a healthier lifestyle. Maybe you’re wanting to uptake a plant-based diet? In need of a life coach to help you reach your goals? Looking to get back to the gym and in need of some beginner workouts? There are so many influencers out there wanting to help you out!

 

2. Connect, connect, connect

Social media can be criticised for damaging the power of a human connection and it is a fair argument when people solely talk to their friends and family on social media and struggle to connect with people in real life. However, what about the instances where people are far away and you can’t see them so freely?  You’ve gone off to university and don’t live at home anymore? Social media can be a great way to share photos and stories with people you don’t get to see so easily. It can also be good to reach out to people who inspire you, slide into their DMs like “do you mind telling me how you started out as a …?”  and so on. Social media allows you to connect with people you might not otherwise have done.

 

3. Think before you post

“Why am I posting this?”If it’s for ‘likes’ then you’re most likely posting for the wrong reason. Post what you love for you, because you love it, not anybody else (sometime Jesy Nelson refers to!). So, in short – do NOT measure your worth based on the number of ‘likes’ you get.

 

4. Be mindful of credibility and positionality

You may have seen earlier this week in the News “Instagram clamps down on diet and cosmetic surgery posts” after concerns of the physical and mental health effects these unhealthy products are having on young people. There are lots of people sharing health-related information on social media and in reality, not all of it true or evidence based.

When reading the health-related information on social media it is important to question a couple of things; (1) Where are they getting this information? (note: Aims On Health with always, where possible, directly link you to sources of information/studies described on this blog), (2) Is the source of this information from a qualified professional or an expert in this field? (3) What do they benefit from sharing this? If the answers are, they’re paid to do it or they’re no expert it might be worth thinking twice about uptake the products or health-related information they share.

 

5. Limit your social media time

Last but not least, limit your time on social media. As with anything in life, balance is key. The increased use of social media, the increased risk of poor mental health difficulties. The goal here is to use social media for a purpose and not wasting your spare time.

Many phones now have tools to show reports of how long you are on your phone each day, including the use of social media apps. There are also different apps which can allow you to limit your social media use, as shown here on Forbes. This topic has also had a number of TED talks if you also want to check those out! So take a look at how much time you spend on social media, make a target and use different apps to help you stick to it! This will make your time on social media more enjoyable with a purpose.

 

Whilst you’re here, why not connect with Aims on Health on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter? You can keep up to date with health and wellness information on these social media sites!

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Meet Aims

Profile picture of Aimee creator of Aims On Health

Hi there!
I'm Aimee creator of 'Aims On Health'.

Here you'll find things all health and wellness but my main interests lie in public health.

My work experience involves working with vulnerable groups in society, providing health eduction and promoting positive behaviour change. I have also just completed a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Liverpool.

Feel free to contact me for advice and support by clicking on the contact page!