Over the last decade or so, few things have had as profound an impact on the culture as social media. Social media has its good and bad points; it has its benefits and drawbacks. Social media can be both uplifting and a downer. And when its impacts are negative, anxiety can be part of the equation.
Social media is something we need to carefully consider in anxiety therapy. While the social media experience can be helpful in overcoming anxiety, it can also be detrimental. Together, therapists and patients must carefully consider social media’s impacts on anxiety in relation to:
- information overload
- unrealistic expectations
- social comparisons
- fear of missing out
- unhealthy validations
- time consumption.
It would rarely be appropriate to recommend abandoning social media across the board. Even in anxiety therapy, properly managed social media can be a useful tool. That being the case, we have some tips patients can employ to help make managing their anxiety a bit easier.
1. Set Time Limits
Overcoming anxiety usually requires minimizing exposure to those things that make you anxious, at least initially. This suggests that setting time limits on social media consumption can help. Set aside certain times of the day to check social media pages. In addition, limit the amount of time for each session.
2. Be More Selective About Your Feeds
Nearly all social media platforms allow users to curate their feeds. If you are dealing with anxiety, be more selective about what you include in yours. Like and follow those social users who tend to promote positive things. Follow those who inspire and encourage you.
3. Engage in Other Activities
In anxiety therapy, we have discovered that a common component among people dealing with social media-related anxiety is that checking feeds has become the fallback activity when there is nothing else to do. The way around this particular challenge is to engage in other activities that help you relax and prioritize self-care.
Exercising by way of an activity you enjoy can make an enormous difference. Consider taking up an old hobby, spending more time with loved ones, and even meditation. The less social media is your fallback, the easier it will be to let go of your anxiety.
4. Make Time for Face-to-Face Interaction
Despite all the positives social media has to offer, one of its biggest drawbacks is that it tends to discourage face-to-face interactions between people. That can be problematic for someone dealing with anxiety. So if you are trying to overcome anxiety, make the time for people.
Get together with friends and go enjoy a shared activity. Spend time with loved ones doing nothing but talking. Take advantage of therapy sessions that allow you to talk things out with a licensed professional.
5. Walk Away When You Have To
There are times when social media is the absolute worst thing for anxiety. So be mindful of your social experiences. Pay attention to how they make you feel; how they might point your thoughts in one direction or another. If you sense that you are feeling more anxious, don’t be afraid to just turn off your device and walk away. You don’t have to keep consuming social media feeds that are only contributing to the negativity.
Social media can be a very good thing in a person’s life. Properly managed, it doesn’t have to contribute to anxiety. If you find it is having a negative impact on your life, perhaps it’s time to dial it back. Maybe it’s more important to focus on positive things that encourage, uplift, and inspire you to be the best you possible.