What to consider before logging in
Dear social media user,
Lately, there have been many uncertain, unsettling and difficult events in the world to process. Some of you may be wondering why they happen, and don’t have a clear answer. I think a lot about it too, and I don’t really know why either. I guess that makes two of us. If you have been asked to pause some regular activity in your life, then you most likely spend a lot of time on your social media accounts. By now, your accounts may have received a deluge of information from the things you’ve read, watched and listened to. Because of that, you must be feeling all sorts of emotions. But no matter what, I hope that you will feel better soon.
Many people have experienced some level of stress especially after engaging and interacting online. There are various reasons how the digital world affects us, like perceived social pressure to divulge information about themselves, speaking up on various current issues, demands of maintaining different networks of contacts and also FOMO (the fear of missing out).
In the event that you’re experiencing something similar, there are some techniques that I’ve read about and tried myself. They can probably help you overcome some of the stress that you’re facing now. Are you willing to give them a try?
Tip #1 Keep your body in a relaxed muscle state
You might not realise that you’re squeezing some muscles in your body. Only by relaxing your body, can you find yourself in a relaxed state. In this book by James Archer called Managing Stress and Anxiety, he says that a person cannot feel relaxed and stressed at the same time.
If you’re not sure what you can do, you can try mindful breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, listening to music and a technique called the progressive muscle relaxation. These are some of the simplest ways to address stress, and they are quite easy to do too. I’ve tried some of them myself, and found them to be quite helpful. If you have other ways to relax the body, feel free to share them with me and I’ll add them to this section.
Tip #2 Ask yourself why you need to be on social media
As our lives become increasingly connected (particularly online), we forget to take a break. We slowly grow disconnected from our environment. Have you ever wondered what it was like before social media existed? Let me tell you, because I remember life was still enjoyable and meaningful. We still found ways to stay connected.
Perhaps, there really is no immediate reason to be on social media all the time, other than our inherent impulse and need to want to stay continuously connected in a digital age.
One way to control your consumption of digital content is to always ask yourself—why do you need to be online at this very moment? How will reading this help my mental and emotional state right now? I’ve found that these questions help me limit my screen time. It’s also helped me regulate the hours I spend online, thus helping me filter out information that is most probably unhelpful for my state of well-being. What are your thoughts about this? I’d love to hear why you use social media, and how you manage your time spent on it.
Tip #3 Ask yourself if posting something online can be of positive value to your circle of friends
Do you regularly think about the consequences of posting information on social media? Are you sharing information that may be detrimental to your friends or is it helpful? I understand how we sometimes get very excited and eager to share our thoughts. I experienced that too!
While we don’t think much of it, it is very possible that you might share something that can hurt other people’s feelings, especially when you are upset. Even if it’s written as a joke, sarcasm and humour can be very subjective as others may not be able to understand your point of view in its literal sense, and may perceive it as something else. Maybe it is time to consider the first two tips?
. . .
Dealing with stress requires some regular practice. Of course, if you can avoid stress, that would be ideal, but it might not be realistic for some.
Perhaps trying to alternate the way you communicate or work in your daily life can help, like spending quality time with close family and friends, reframing the problems you have, and learning to stop trying to control the uncontrollable. With that said, I understand it can be very challenging for you, and for me, to refrain from connecting online. It’s become our new normal, and probably will be for a very long time.
With practice and resolve, we can change the way we engage on social media if we want to. If you ever find yourself feeling stressed out, I hope these three simple tips I shared are useful to you.
I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share your thoughts, insights and tips with me too!
A fellow social media user working on finding the right balance in the digital world