Unplugging from Social Media and Rediscovering Joy This Holiday Season

The relationship between social media and mental health during the holidays is a complex one. Studies show varying perspectives, with some suggesting that social media has little impact on mental health, while others argue that it contributes to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Regardless of the academic debate, it’s clear that the constant stream of holiday-themed content can intensify stress levels.

A significant number of individuals experience the “holiday blues,” with symptoms ranging from weariness and anxiety to feelings of isolation and grief. Social media compounds these emotions by creating an online environment where the pressure to conform to idealized holiday standards is heightened. As we scroll through curated feeds of festive perfection, it’s essential to recognize that real-life experiences are often more nuanced.

Social media and the holidays don’t always complement each other. The expectation to showcase picture-perfect celebrations can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation. Push notifications flood our devices, ensuring we don’t miss a single holiday post, potentially interrupting our daily lives and preventing us from fully experiencing the moment.

FOMO and Comparison Can Overshadow Joyous Moments

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a common phenomenon during the holidays, amplified by social media’s highlight reels. Constantly comparing ourselves to others’ seemingly perfect celebrations can lead to exhaustion and a misguided focus on online validation. The pressure to keep up with an idealized version of the holidays can overshadow genuine moments of joy.

Practical Strategies for a Healthier Holiday Season:

  • Define Your “Why”:

    Reflect on what brings you joy during the holidays and prioritize activities aligned with your values. Everyone’s “reason for the season” is unique, so embrace your traditions and preferences.


  • Return to Gratitude:

    Cultivate a mindset of gratitude to counteract comparison and self-judgment. Take time to appreciate the positive aspects of your life, fostering a sense of contentment amid the holiday chaos.

  • Set Offline Boundaries:

    Establish clear boundaries for holiday activities both online and offline. Prioritize events that align with your values and don’t succumb to societal pressures portrayed on social media.

  • Scroll Mindfully:

    Be conscious of how social media makes you feel. If certain posts evoke negative emotions, consider muting or unfollowing accounts that don’t contribute positively to your well-being.

  • Limit Social Media Usage:

    Set realistic time limits for social media use, especially during the holidays. Studies suggest that restricting usage to 30 minutes per day can significantly improve well-being.

  • Remember Social Media Realities:

    Acknowledge that social media portrays curated versions of reality. Behind every perfect holiday photo, there may be hidden challenges or personal struggles that aren’t shared online.

  • Check In on Others:

    Reach out to friends and family during the holidays. Social sharing of emotions can enhance feelings of connection, and checking in on loved ones can create a sense of mutual support.

  • Be Present:

    Put down your phone and engage in the present moment. Participate fully in holiday activities, fostering genuine connections and enhancing your overall mood.

  • Physical Activity for Mental Well-Being:

    Combat social media-induced stress with physical activity. A 30-minute workout can reduce stress, improve sleep, boost mood, and increase energy levels.

When to Seek Assistance for Stress

If holiday stress, amplified by social media exposure, becomes overwhelming, seeking professional assistance is a proactive step. Therapists can provide support and coping strategies to navigate the challenges of the season.

As we enter the holiday season, let’s prioritize our mental well-being by adopting practical strategies to manage social media’s impact. By setting boundaries, embracing gratitude, and focusing on genuine moments of joy, we can create a holiday season that aligns with our unique values and brings true comfort and joy. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to celebrating the holidays, so let’s redefine our expectations and savor the moments that truly matter.


  1. Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review

    Karim F, Oyewande AA, Abdalla LF, Chaudhry Ehsanullah R, Khan S. Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review. Cureus. 2020 Jun 15;12(6):e8627. doi: 10.7759/cureus.8627. PMID: 32685296; PMCID: PMC7364393.

Source: Medindia

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