Anxiety & social media

By Sophie Slosarczyk

I can’t speak for everyone but I know that social media is playing a big part in the rising anxiety & stress levels amongst us.

In fact, it contributes far more than we know to mental health issues and I’m barely scratching the surface with that statement. 

We have to look at facts.

The average British person checks their phone up to 28 times a day (Independent.co.uk), which worryingly doesn’t sound that much! I would guess the number can be much higher.

Through social media we’re connected to each other more than ever before, and yet the connection’s virtual, meaning it’s not the same as being in the room with someone.  

We can’t hug or kiss on social media. We can’t sense other’s emotions or feelings. We don’t get the same connection. These are facts.

Also, most users of social media post pictures and comments which are glorified, edited and beautified, which can have a damaging effect on people’s self esteem and on what ‘reality’ really looks like. 

There’s other issues such as people becoming obsessed with other people’s lives, looking up to influencers, comparing themselves and feeling inadequate as a result. 

Not to mention the physical toll of scrolling on your thumb, hand and wrist mobility and the impact on your vision if you’re staring at a computer or phone screen all day. 

And yet social media can have benefits.

Right now in the world of Covid, social media has provided a way to stay connected with friends & family which is incredible. 

It can be a very inspiring and motivating place if you’re looking to learn from others and share ideas in the right way. 

However if you ask me, there’s no doubt that social media is addictive and I personally struggle with it. 

So in this blog I’m sharing 3 simple things I did months ago now to make social media a better place for me. 

If you find your anxiety levels are higher because of social media use it’s worth doing the same. 

  1. Unfollow everyone. I dedicated an afternoon once and unfollowed my whole ‘friends’ list. Any new friends who now come in, the FIRST thing I do is unfollow them. What this does is stops them showing up on my ‘news feed’. Therefore my news feed only shows posts from groups I’m in, influencers I follow and topics I enjoy. And every time someone or something pops up on my news feed that I don’t like, I right click and turn it off immediately. 
  2. Limit how much & how often you look at social media. Easier said than done I know, but it’s essential to do this if anxiety levels are increasing from using social media. I’m a busy mama of two gorgeous boys and they are my life. I’d much rather be looking at them than looking at my phone. Which is why I only use social media now for business; keeping in touch with my clients. It means I have very limited views of social media posts. I’m mostly active in the groups I run and groups which I want to contribute to. I’ve slowed the scroll! In fact I can’t remember the last time I actually checked a friends profile. (For any friends reading this, it’s why you’re unlikely to get any ‘likes’ from me because I just don’t see you AND I’d rather see you & talk to you in real life or over the phone call anyway!
  3. Choose your follows wisely. I see social media as having huge potential if only humanity had greater control over their actions and didn’t waste so much time on social media scrolling like zombies, but rather used it as a learning tool. To use social media for learning means to pick and choose your follows. If you’re following the news for example then the news will show in your feed and it’s gonna affect you. So simply stop following the news. Choose to follow things which genuinely light you up. If you love to travel (me!!) then follow the travel guides. If you love the topic of homeschooling, follow that. It really helps to censor what’s shown to you by narrowing down the topics so have a think and ask yourself ‘What do I really want to see on my feed?’ and only follow those. 

If you’ve not watched the Social Dilemma on Netflix, I recommend watching it particularly if you have children as this explains social media from the perspective of those who used to work for the big platforms. Gives you a real eye opener to the virtual world we’re living in. 

And don’t underestimate the power of a digital detox.

A weekend off social media or even longer (a few months?) is pure bliss in my opinion. Give it a go and see how you find it.

I hope this helps you.

Sophie x

(Image by Karsten Winegeart)

Sophie Slosarczyk

Sophie Slosarczyk

Wellbeing coach, healthcare professional and anxiety relief expert. Mum of two baby boys. Loves nothing more than a hot cup of tea (rarely happens these days) and a real heart to heart.

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