In a world centred around cyberspace and influencers, it’s sometimes hard not to get drawn into the lives behind the screen, scrolling mindlessly through endless feeds that actually end up creating more stress in our lives than they do social interaction. And yet we’ve become a community obsessed with social media to the point where it is having a negative effect on our daily lives.
Social media is awash with carefully curated content that is designed to keep us engrossed in the app rather than keeping us connected. What was originally created to boost social interaction has actually led to us becoming more depressed, anxious and isolated than ever before.
But how do we overcome this addiction to social media? And how can we ensure that social media does not have a negative impact on our mental health? Read on to discover our top tips on overcoming social media obsession and anxiety.
Admitting It To Yourself
As with any addiction, the first step towards recovery is admitting to yourself (and others) that you have a problem and that you would like to regain control over your own life. While many people play down social media addiction, saying that they could stop whenever they want, they might be surprised to learn just how many times a day they actually use their phones and the ways in which social media addiction is ruling their lives.
It is thought that the average Brit checks their phone 10,000 times a year and that 73 percent of Americans would feel ‘panicked’ if they lost their smartphone. That goes to show what a huge role smartphones and social media have on our lives.
Once you have admitted that you are addicted to social media, you can work towards creating boundaries and using it in a way that brings you positivity and connection rather than stress and anxiety.
Once you have identified that you are using social media more than you would like, it’s time to set boundaries for yourself to ensure you don’t slip into old habits. The app AntiSocial not only tracks how much you use your phone, but also pinpoints which apps you are using most and gives you tools to manage, block and control your mobile phone usage. You can then choose to limit yourself to 10 minutes a day, perhaps, on each social media platform, to ensure your usage doesn’t spiral out of control.
If you find that setting boundaries isn’t enough or that you keep upping your usage limit to allow yourself extra time on the apps, maybe you need to go ‘cold turkey’ and take a full digital detox from social media and your smartphone. Tanya Goodin, the author of OFF, the Digital Detox Book, advises that even ‘a short period of digital detox, being temporarily without screens, can improve the quality of your sleep, your focus and concentration and reduce stress’.
Getting away from it all and reconnecting with yourself, with others and with the great outdoors is a fantastic way of realigning your priorities and putting your mental health first. Taking a personal wellness retreat allows you time to re-centre and to put in place an actionable self-care routine that you can take with you throughout your daily life.
Focus On The Present
One of the main ways that social media causes anxiety is through FOMO and the compare-and-despair factor. We are constantly bombarded with images of people we know (and don’t!) who look like their lives are so much more exciting and extravagant than our own. By comparing ourselves to others we lower our self-esteem, increase our fears of personal failure and take value away from things in our lives that we would otherwise appreciate. The best way to overcome this comparison anxiety is to focus on the present moment. By continually reminding ourselves to live in the now we can feel joy and gratitude in our lives and appreciate all the great things we have going for ourselves.
Interact With People IRL
It is a well-known fact that human interaction is vital for both physical and mental wellbeing and, in an ever-increasingly digital world, it is all too easy to go for long stretches of time without truly interacting with a fellow human being! Getting out there and enjoying time with other people allows us to feel loved and connected in a way that social media simply cannot do. The more we spend time with others IRL, the less we will desire to spend time on social media and the less we will feel the anxiety arising from FOMO and comparison.
Surround Yourself With Positivity
Social media is not bad, per se, and it can be an excellent platform to connect with people with similar interests and experiences to you all over the world. However, if you are going to spend time on social media, it is important to monitor the content that you are going to see to ensure you don’t interact with material that will trigger your insecurities or make you feel unworthy or anxious.
It is worth having a regular analysis of the people that you ‘follow’ or are ‘friends’ with on social media so that you can remove those who create negative feelings and instead surround yourself with positive content that will enrich your life.
Speak To A Professional
Finally, it is important to mention that there is no shame in seeking help from a professional for social media addiction if you feel that your obsession has got out of control. Social media addiction and anxiety are recognised disorders and there are people out there who can help you take back control of your life and make changes to improve your mental health and overall wellbeing.
Hopefully, by now you feel as though you have a toolbox of ideas that can help you identify your social media habits and overcome the stress and anxiety that so often comes with social media use and comparison.
Let us know how you deal with social media stress and get in touch if you feel like a digital detox retreat would help improve your own personal wellbeing.