Hi, I’m Juliette Zuckerman, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Thriveworks in Fairfield, Connecticut. I’m going to answer the following question: “How can social media help me during COVID-19?”

While there are benefits to using social media during this time, there are limitations that are important for all of us to be aware of. First, let’s talk about the benefits. We must acknowledge that during COVID-19 we are extremely limited in our social interactions with others, leaving us feeling uncertain, isolated, and anxious.

Why is social connection even important? Well, it’s good for our emotional wellbeing and increases our self-esteem. It allows us to empathize with others and it’s also a tool for combating anxiety and depression. It also has tremendous health benefits. It makes you more resilient to illness and lowers your stress levels. Here are two ways to use social media to both connect and increase our positive mood.

Shared experience is one way. Think about this. You’ve made a fantastic and beautiful home cooked meal for yourself. Sure, it tastes great and you’re getting pleasure out of it, but studies show that sharing experiences makes them more enjoyable. Posting your creation on Instagram can allow others to praise, offer suggestions and share recipes which in turn will enhance your own experience of the meal and make it even more enjoyable.

Social media can also allow us to express ideas and opinions that are important to us and also stay updated on important current events, news and politics. It can be an important source of local information in the community and staying connected with our neighbors. It will help you find answers to questions such as: Where can I find homemade face masks? Who is still open for takeout? Is anyone getting rid of a kid’s bicycle?

It’s important to stay updated on health information in regard to COVID-19 and getting this information via social media as opposed to TV. News broadcasts can give you the information you need without overexposure, which can increase our anxiety, especially among children. Now I want to take a little bit of time to mention a major disadvantage of social media. Just as it can be used to elevate our mood, constant use of social media can bring our moods down. The reason why this is is because it allows for social comparison. These are reference points by which we judge or compare ourselves to others.

Many of us know that these posts are unrealistic or highly edited, but they don’t show us the whole picture. We only see the great and exciting stuff, not the mundane day to day routine. The problem is our minds can’t make the distinction. In turn, we feel worse about ourselves. We are convinced our own lives pale in comparison leaving us sad and depressed.

So from what we know about social media advantages and disadvantages, the goal is to be deliberate and mindful about how we use it. Set concrete limits to avoid turning to it out of habit or boredom and be aware when you use social media, it makes you feel worse about yourself than before you started scrolling. Using social media as a tool for connecting, learning, and solving problems. Make it work for you during this time.

I hope I answered your question and provided some helpful tips about how to make social media work for you. Please reach out to myself or your local Thriveworks counselor. If you believe your use of social media is having negative consequences on your life, and if you need support and guidance until next time, take care.