It’s a well-known fact that social media can skew our perception of reality, but it may be ruining some of life’s most important events, a new study finds.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May), Bupa Health Clinics carried out a Censuswide survey of 2,266 UK adults in April to find out how social media affects the way Britons feel about major life events.
The organisation found that one in 10 respondents have felt unhappy about an event or significant moment in their lives as a direct result of social media.
Furthermore, more than one in ten people (13 per cent) have avoided posting pictures on social networks because their experience didn't look as good as others.
According to the research, those surveyed said they feel upset or down after comparing their experience of a milestone to someone else’s on social media.
The results showed that 85 per cent of people said they felt this way when returning to work after having a baby, 70 per cent said it happened when starting their first job and 64 per cent admitted to feeling low after getting a promotion and seeing others celebrating their own promotions on social platforms.
“It’s important to understand that taking care of both physical and mental wellbeing before, during and after a big life event, is vital to enjoying the moment itself,” says Bupa Health Clinics’ medical director, Dr Arun Thiyagarajan.
“Social media can also have an impact on body image and confidence. Whether this is seeing constant weight loss updates or celebrities’ holiday snaps, it can have an effect on the way we view our own bodies.
“It is crucial to remember that what you see on social media may be an exaggerated version of reality.”
Dr Thiyagarajan continues: “It’s at this point, when you are feeling physically and mentally run down, that seeing someone else’s seemingly perfect experience of the same milestone can have an adverse effect on your mental health.”
Buying a house (55 per cent), retiring (53 per cent) and taking a big holiday (43 per cent) were also noted as significant moments which left the nation experiencing low moods once they compared themselves to what others were doing on social media.
The majority (86 per cent) of respondents also agreed that society puts too much pressure on us “showing off” our key milestones and more than half (58 per cent) believe social media posts uploaded by celebrities create an unreachable expectation of what life's key moments should look like.
This year, Mental Health Awareness Week is running with the theme of body image: how we think and feel about our bodies. Read more here.