Part One of a Two-Part Article
If you believe the headlines, social media is ruining human life as we know it. We hear words like addiction and withdrawal being used in the same sentence, and not without some support. Recent studies have, in fact, shown that social media can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.
Before I started my private practice, I wasn’t on social media (and had no desire). But now that I’ve set my sights on helping as many people as I can learn to live without excess worry, social media is a must. I don’t say that begrudgingly. I truly enjoy conversing with people through it, and I love posting tips and tricks that can help someone throughout his or her day. And let’s face it, nothing quite lifts my mood as quickly and effectively as a cute labradoodle post. Am I right?
All kidding aside, there’s one key thing we must all remember before we delve into our Facebook and Instagram feeds. This one thing is the basis for why those studies I mentioned conclude that social media is so detrimental.
People’s posts don’t necessarily represent real life.
Remember this. Even in my own sphere, I’ve noticed that most of my friends aren’t posting life’s disappointments or the downright bad stuff that happens to us all. Some do, of course, but for the most part, I think we try to post a more polished view of life, and there’s nothing wrong with that of course. Constantly comparing our raw lives against an online social media persona, however, can be a recipe for unhappiness at best and, at worst, anxiety and depression.
So how do we live in real life but still be social on the media? The answer is two-fold: a realistic mindset and balance.
Let’s look at the mindset part first. The key for us is to avoid an unhealthy mindset, because our inner dialogue is vital to our wellbeing. Pay attention to how you’re talking to yourself when on social media. Are you saying things like “everyone’s life is better” or “she’s having more fun, is more successful, is thinner …” If so, adjusting those thoughts will make all the difference. If we’re more realistic about social media, then we won’t be bothered or upset by what someone else posts, and we won’t leave ourselves open to feeling bad. Cognitive behavior therapy looks at the connections between thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
The next question is how do we achieve balance. I think I may have found an answer, or at least a place to start, and I’m giving it a try. Hopefully you’ll continue with me on this journey, and come back next week to read about the results!
In the meantime, tell me about your social media mindset. What are you saying to yourself as you peruse your Facebook or Instagram feeds, for example?
Joanna Hardis is a guest blogger for Northeast Ohio Parent, a monthly publication for parents in the Greater Cleveland/Akron region.
- Why I Meditate and You Should Too
- Learning to Befriend Anxiety and Tolerate Uncertainty
- Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?