Self Care and Social Media

As we all have experienced, social media can be an amazing thing. It can connect you to wonderful opportunities and people. It’s a tool that has become useful not only in our personal lives for pleasure, but also our professional lives in helping us network and learn about the world. On the other hand, it’s also become harmful. It has begun breeding things such as hate, abuse and loneliness towards a lot of people.

The first thing is because it makes you hyper-aware to everyone in your life and what they’re doing. Which is a good thing at first, but I realized soon that this doesn’t necessarily mesh well with my anxiety. Seeing everybody’s accomplishments, well written posts and perfectly laid out instagram feeds caused a nagging feeling that I wasn’t good enough.

Sometimes I find myself staring at my Facebook feed and thinking, should I be doing that? Should I have done that instead? Why doesn’t my hair look like that? Should I post a picture or not?

Everything is amplified through the lens of social media, which has turned it into a powerful thing in our lives. It can be amazing because it allows us to connect to thousands of people at once, and can help jumpstart our projects, work and movements. This is a big deal, but I’ve learned that growing up with social media has become almost like a chore some days.

Another sad part with the evolution of our digital realities, is that i’ve learned that just like real life, social media can become another toxic place with toxic people. As a person who wants to speak their mind,  but hates aggressive people, I’ve struggled with this more and more. This passed week, I experienced some first hand abuse and harassment over my Twitter account

I’m learning slowly that social media should not be put on a pedestal, instead our work is what should be truly shining through it.

Social Media Self Care Tips:

1. Deleting certain apps

I used to think a “social media” cleanse wasn’t for me–or that it wasn’t really possible for me. This is because a big part of my work as a journalist, blogger, etc is to stay connected and keep myself updated through social media. But about a week ago I finally decided that I had to delete some things from my phone. The thing that really can make social media consuming is when you’re looking at it constantly, and our smartphones allow that to happen. So I felt like it needs to be not a matter of taking out social media completely, but not seeing it constantly, to the point where you get overstimulated and aren’t even taking in relevant information. My choice was that I deleted my Facebook and Twitter applications on my phone because I felt those were the ones that really consumed me. I felt like those are the specific ones that can really put you down in a hole.

2. No social media before bed

This is SUCH a hard one, because sometimes honestly all I want to do is relax before I go to bed by scrolling through Twitter or Insta. But the truth is, relaxation doesn’t always equal social media. Often times it just causes me to go to bed more stressful and anxious than I was before, becuase now my mind is racing about a million things that I saw online, whether it has anything to do with me or not. But I still need to do something before bed, so I’ve been trying to read at least 15 mintues before bed. Also, staring at a bright screen before bed it’s proven to be terrible for your eyes and making it harder to fall asleep. What I’ve also done is set my phone to “Do not Disturb” after 10pm, because a lot of times, even if I willingly don’t look at my phone, it’s still blowing up with texts and messages–and at a certain point, I just need to tell myself “Ok, Arbela, to rest. They can wait.”

3. If you don’t post it on social media, it still happened

It most scares me when I start to feel like I need to tweet something, post something on Instagram, that’s what makes it real. It’s so hard to find a balance, because on the one hand, when I go to an event I want to document it and save it for later, but at the same time I also need to remind myself to be focused with just experiencing the moment instead of worrying about taking photos, posting about it or checking in. So what I’ve been really trying to do is that if I go to concerts, art shows, restaurants, etc and really not worry about taking a picture or tweeting about it. Honestly, try not taking a photo of your food before eating it once in awhile, I swear it makes it taste better sometimes.

4. It’s okay to turn your notifications off

My hate for group messages I think officially started a couple months ago. I used to think it was purely exciting and efficient because it allowed me to chat to people all at once, and it made me feel well, a part of something. But as my real life got busier, my social media only amplified that–in a very overwhelming way. Soon, the Facebook messenger dings almost became like trigger warnings, or small reminders that I forgot to answer someone. The overstimulation of posts I was seeing on Twitter became too much all at once. And I felt like I had to keep up with everything every day, because of all the information I that was out there. I truly think an important part of self care is turning off your group message notifications or putting them on mute at times. If it’s an absolute emergency, the person can call you, or message you directly. You owe it to yourself to not be distracted by pings every 5 minutes, especially when you’re trying to focus on something else.

5. Don’t compare yourself

Unfortunately, all the good social media it has done, it’s caused some harmful things as well. It’s created a culture of isolation, but also a “who’s doing the most fun thing” and “who’s the most successful” contest. The scariest part is that more often than not, the self we show on social media is usually not our true self. It is a less humanistic, edited version of ourselves that doesn’t really portray who we truly are. We need to revive the more human version of ourselves on social media, and start to use to it to express ourselves accurately, instead of hiding behind a mask that everyone else wears. I’m pretty sure 40% of my anxiety comes from looking at other people’s posts, stories and pictures and seeing all the amazing things they’re doing, and immediately comparing it to my own social profiles, and even my se real life self.