Facebook and Your Mental Health

Posted October 22, 2012 by Monica O'Connell in Life After Five

Facebook has woven its way into the lives of millions — a lot of you probably even found your way to this post from Facebook. I hope it’s because we’re Facebook friends, I’ve liked your posts, you’ve liked CGN, or we’ve commented on each other’s feeds. Many women talk about how they like Facebook as a way to stay connected, to post pretty pictures through Instagram, and stay up-to-date on races, marriages, and babies.  And I think for many people that’s also where our time on Facebook starts to play with our emotions.

For many women, Facebook is a great place for you to compare your insides to other people’s outsides. Your insides are a mix of a lot of things: For most successful Career Girls, the majority of the space is filled with confidence and goal-achieving domination, with a teeny space for fear and insecurity. Fear and insecurity varies from Career Girl to Career Girl. For some people it’s about dating and relationships, for others it’s about body image, fitness, or career. But when you’re in a place of fear, it becomes really easy to start comparing. And Facebook is an ongoing opportunity to gain more and more information on the lives of others.

Other people’s outsides are paraded on Facebook. I was recently at a sports game and watched three girls take five or more pictures of themselves, hoping to get the exact right look for a new profile picture. On my feed, I see people post wonderful things about their relationship with their significant other. And in my opinion, it’s certainly inappropriate and awkward when people write really negative things in their status updates — I’m not suggesting that people start doing that as a way to be more honest on Facebook. But, if you think about it, most people don’t take pictures of the 19 blisters, two pulled muscles, and 18 conversations they had about quitting before they post that picture of themselves crossing the finish line, which is liked by 45 people. And people don’t take pictures of the 35 dates they went on with weirdos and creepers, or the eight times they got their hearts broken before they changed their status to “In a relationship.”

If you’re on Facebook and you’re getting what one of my clients called “Facebook Depression”, close the app. Step away from the computer. Establish some guidelines for yourself. Maybe that means taking a Facebook break, or having your friend change your password and not telling you for a month.  Maybe that means you allow yourself newsfeed time after work for 10 minutes only. Or maybe that means you start to become more aware of how you feel pre, during or post-Facebook. Any way you do it, make sure the time you’re spending elevates you and supports your confidence.

About the Author

Monica O'Connell

Monica O’Connell is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her practice, she spends her career cheering on “Career Girls” as they learn how to get the most out of life. Monica works with arguably some of the most successful, intelligent, inspiring women in the Twin Cities who tackle self-discovery, career success, and what’s getting in the way of their true desires. She shares her favorite moments as those “best described not by words but by the stomach aching, face soreness that comes from spending an entire day laughing with loved ones.”