Today’s Solutions: June 14, 2024

A new study from York University in Toronto, Canada sheds light on the substantial consequences of social media detox on people’s self-esteem and body image. The study, led by psychology professor Jennifer Mills, included 66 female undergraduate students and sought to investigate the consequences of a week without using social media.

Mills, along with co-authors Olivia Smith and Lindsay Samson, separated the participants into two groups: one that continued to use social media as normal, and the other that avoided all social media platforms throughout the study. The researchers assessed baseline levels of self-esteem and body satisfaction before and after the intervention, using screen time monitoring to validate participants’ adherence to the program.

The impact: revealing the astonishing effects on self-esteem and body image

The study found a significant difference in self-esteem and physical satisfaction between the two groups. Mills expressed surprise at the magnitude of the findings, stating, “We had effect sizes that were larger than I’m used to seeing in this line of research, so that suggests that it is a robust or strong effect.”

The considerable increase in self-esteem and body image among those who avoided social media demonstrates the profound impact of digital platforms on people’s mental health. This study provides solid evidence of the benefits of lowering social media usage, showing the possibility of a positive shift in one’s self-perception and body image.

Understanding the vulnerability: why body image matters, particularly for young women

Catherine Sabiston, a professor of body image and mental health at the University of Toronto, underlines young women’s vulnerability to negative body image. She explains that the transition to adulthood is a vital stage for identity building, making people vulnerable to societal pressures and artificial beauty standards promoted by social media.

Poor body image impacts people not just psychologically, leading to low self-esteem and an increased risk of depression and anxiety, but it also has physical consequences, influencing nutrition and substance use patterns.

Practical solutions: tips and strategies for using social media to boost mental health

In reaction to social media’s ubiquitous influence on mental well-being, experts argue for practical solutions that promote positive online experiences while boosting mental health. Here are some useful tips:

Set limits:

Set limits on social media usage and gradually reduce screen time to create a healthier relationship with digital platforms. Use smartphones’ built-in screen time tracking features to measure usage and establish daily limitations.

Curate your feed: 

Take charge of your social media experience by curating your feed with positive and uplifting information. Unfollow accounts that promote unrealistic beauty standards or elicit negative emotions, and instead seek out those who inspire and encourage you.

Practice mindfulness: 

Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your everyday routine to increase self-awareness and emotional resilience. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness-based activities can help you ground yourself and reduce stress.

Strengthen social connections: 

Prioritize meaningful connections with friends and family who encourage and support you. Develop offline relationships and participate in events that encourage social connection and community involvement.

Practice self-care: 

Set aside time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and spirit. Take up hobbies, exercise regularly, and prioritize self-care techniques that improve overall well-being.

People can regain control of their digital lives and prioritize their mental health by applying these tactics in an increasingly interconnected society.

Source study: Body Image—Out of the loop: Taking a one-week break from social media leads to better self-esteem and body image among young women


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