With the pandemic underway, more people are turning to social media to keep up with friends and family, and to stay in tune with the world. Popular social media outlets like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok are seeing a huge influx of social media wellness bloggers that release posts surrounding topics of mental, spiritual, and physical health, spreading positivity and awareness, educating the public, and further providing support for users that feel a deeper connection to the content.
The benefit of this new wave of mental health awareness is clear cut—support is imperative for wellness. These posts create a sense of community by allowing people to recognise symptoms and offer tips quickly and simply. This helps people seeing these posts realize that others go through the same struggles. This feeling of representation and understanding is one of the greatest benefits that this new culture has to offer. It gives individuals the opportunity to speak to others and learn from each other.
A bonus—remaining behind a screen makes it much easier for those struggling with anxiety or fear of speaking out to reach out and support one another. Social media posts also offer convenience—these pages are easy to access and provide individuals with the knowledge and tools they need to start the process of researching and taking care of themselves.
Lastly, and the most overlooked, is the benefit of encouragement. Not only do these posts provide great encouragement for those struggling to take care of themselves, but success stories and positive journeys often offer individuals inspiration and attainable goals that they can strive for. Body positivity is one example. People of all shapes and sizes are celebrated, supported, and encouraged—creating a positive and safe community to begin the process of feeling comfortable in one’s own skin. It’s definitely not a cure, nor is it perfect, but it is a starting point.
However, there are some seriously negative effects of the social media wellness culture. Just as individuals can internalize positive posts, they can equally—and more easily– internalize the negative, damaging comments and ideals set forth as well. Although body positivity can begin with social media, body image issues can stem from these social media blogs and posts too. Before we know it, we start holding ourselves to these hyper-positive and unrealistic standards. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can also begin in ways that we often fail to consider. Sometimes, seeing an excessive amount of toxic positivity posts that fail to acknowledge the valleys of life can put users in a place that makes them feel discouraged and inadequate. Additionally, positive posts can make social media users feel like they are stuck in a low point in life, in comparison to those around them.
Despite the highs and the lows of social media wellness culture, I believe that if it is in the right hands, it can be a beautiful and beneficial experience. Aside from the thin line that divides the benefits from the detrimental effects, the most important and crucial take-away from these pages is awareness. Raising awareness, fostering a sense of community, and allowing others to learn about topics pertaining to health and wellness is a huge step in a new direction—the right direction.
One of the most important things about social media wellness culture is being aware of yourself. Everyone is different and faces distinct struggles in life, meaning you are the only judge of whether a social media wellness blogger is posting things that are beneficial to you. Whether you feel comfortable or safe in the online environment is totally up to you.