Social Media Anxiety Is Real
We live in a world where we are all tuned into each other’s lives. Constantly. With a tap of a finger, we can scroll through countless Instagram reels and Facebook status’ to see what the people in our lives are up to. Social media anxiety and social media fatigue are very common and can be detrimental to our mental health.
Yes, it’s true (and even wonderful) that social media can be a fantastic tool and help people to connect to others with similar interests and backgrounds. It keeps us in contact with family and friends we don’t always get to see, if ever. It’s an easy way to reach out, at your convenience, letting someone you care about know that you are thinking about them.
For all the good that social media does, however, it can cause a lot of harm, as well. Social media anxiety is a unique kind of anxiety related to what we post, when we post, how much we share, the responses we get (or don’t get) from others and can often add to this imaginary critic telling us what we think others are saying or thinking about us (and our posts).
Social media, at it’s best, is a connection tool. And that is amazing and great. But, at it’s worst, is a tool that causes us to self-criticize, doubt ourselves, feel shame. Social media anxiety creates a feeling of being behind those we follow or know both online and offline.
How Does Social Media Impact Mental Health?
Comparison is the thief of joy. Social media creates anxiety which steals our joy. We scroll through the lives of people we know and see the picture perfect families, bodies, cars, vacations and supposedly lives. The not just fun but ‘perfect’ memories of outings with friends. We are bombarded with imagery of these perfect lives. This isn’t reality. But our brains don’t know that this isn’t reality and not knowing is what causes social media anxiety to take hold and persist in the first place.
Social media gives the impression that everything is perfect and right for everyone else but us. It’s just an illusion that we are all guilty of doing. “Look at me! Look at how great my life is!” But the truth is, nobody’s life is perfect. We are all struggling with the challenges that life will throw our way on a daily basis. Seeing the perfectly curated illusions that other people put forth on social media causes our own lives to feel dismal in comparison. As if we could never measure up. It’s time to stop this.
Here are four easy to implement secrets to managing social media anxiety
This is a simple idea that may almost seem elementary to even say. But many of us struggle with unplugging our phones and stepping away from social media for a bit. You don’t have to go on a huge hiatus of social media, but take an hour two each night to not look at your phone. There are apps you can download that will block these apps from being accessed during a set period of time. Or even after so many minutes, it will prevent the app from being able to be accessed. Without access to apps or social media platforms will reduce anxiety. Again! Less screen time equals less social media anxiety.
Nobody wants to be real on social media. To talk about the hard stuff. Because we all want to leave the impression that things could not get any better. We all know about this distorted image that we actively work on portraying. It’s almost embedded into our DNA at this point to always “one-up” our neighbors and peers. But social media, as pretty as filters can make life, don’t actually beautify anything. They create an anxiety and dread that many people quietly suffer from.
This one is perhaps the most challenging tip yet. But, it can be done. If you find that you are just too tempted to scroll through social media, and are tired of experiencing social media anxiety every day, then try and delete the apps. You don’t have to deactivate the accounts you have, but, you can remove them from your phone temporarily. It will stop you from wanting to just tap that icon and see what people are up to (with the inevitable self-comparison and self-criticism that follows).
Update your status that you are taking a break, leave your messaging apps off the phone, and call it a day. A calm day!
Talk to your close friends or family about how social media anxiety is affecting you. Is it causing you to feel unusually anxious about your own life? Chances are, someone else in your life is experiencing this too. There is strength in numbers and by showing each other they aren’t alone with their struggles, we can make the world a little bit better (and even social media for that matter!)
Working with a licensed therapist can help you find more techniques to managing your social media anxiety. If you are ready to learn more, please reach out to me at my Honolulu or London clinic to set up a Social Media Anxiety Treatment Test Drive and get started. Learn more about anxiety treatment by clicking HERE.
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Hawaii and an Accredited CBT Therapist and Psychotherapist in the UK with over 16 years of experience, specializing in Anxiety Treatment and Cognitive Behavior Therapy