Managing Social Media Anxiety

Even if you don’t usually experience anxiety, being on social media frequently can lead to unhealthy thought patterns such as the dreaded FOMO and comparing yourself to others. And with the UK still in lockdown, we are all turning to social media far more often and spending more time scrolling than ever before.

So how can we learn to manage those anxious thoughts we experience during or after being online?

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While 40% of women in one study admitted that they felt more anxious after spending time on social media, most of us wouldn’t have a clue where to begin when it comes to building a healthy relationship with the platforms we use every day. Myself included.

Being in this blogging world, social media is important not just for my day to day life, but also as a means of connecting with other bloggers and promoting posts. And I’ll be honest, I experience far worse social media anxiety on my blogging platforms that I do my personal ones. I think because there’s a lot more comparison to be had with blogging – I see bloggers with beautifully curated Instagram themes or really clever, well-written blog posts and get that feeling of not quite being good enough.

How social media anxiety affects me

Being in this blogging world, social media is important not just for my day to day life, but also as a means of connecting with other bloggers and promoting posts. And I’ll be honest, I experience far worse social media anxiety on my blogging platforms that I do my personal ones. I think because there’s a lot more comparison to be had with blogging – I see bloggers with beautifully curated Instagram themes or really clever, well-written blog posts and get that feeling of not quite being good enough.

I’ve found when I take a step back and I’m not surrounded by the constant flood of disheartening news stories, thought-provoking posts and beautiful, “picture-perfect” photos in a continuous newsfeed, the need to compare and question myself or my abilities isn’t nearly as prevalent. But when these opportunities arise by the minute, it’s a completely different story.

Similar to my everyday anxiety, I’ve noticed a few triggers for social media anxiety that I think everyone can relate to:

Comparisons

Constantly. There were times when a simple photograph could leave me feeling completely useless and there have been many times I’ve nearly stopped blogging entirely because of comparisons with other bloggers.

Fear

Social media allows an instant influx of horrid breaking news, bringing all of those “what ifs” feelings to actual fruition. It feels insensitive to do so, but I often have to turn a blind eye to the news as I just can’t deal with the anxiety it brings me.

Sensitivity

I’m a very sensitive person and I’m still, at the grand age of 25, not quite sure of myself and my place in the world. So I tend to get quite a bit of paranoia and self-doubt when I spend too much time online, especially feelings like “why would someone like her photo but not mine?” or FOMO.

Perfectionist

I just have this need for everything to be perfect. Every blog post. Every Insta photo. It’s draining. And normally, I can feel happy with what I have created up until it’s actually out there in the world and then I hate it, because I start comparing it to others or maybe it doesn’t get the attention or whatever that I had expected and then I feel like I’ve failed.

There were – and still are – days where I can still really struggle with any and all of the above. Days when social media is the sole cause of my worries or low mood. I’ve spent a good long time reflecting on my social media use and trying to get to a place where I’m happy with it, and I’m not 100% there yet, but I’ve made some significant changes.

How I manage social media anxiety

1. Be ruthless with who you follow

I try really hard to just surround myself with those who I feel genuinely have my best interest at heart and would (and will) support me in life’s adventures. This has involved removing people as friends and even blocking people sometimes, but it has to be done.

2. Choose a handful of platforms and stick to them

For me, I probably have more social media accounts than the average person due to blogging, but I do try to keep it to a minimum. At the moment I have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and I’m quite happy leaving it at that. Trying to keep up with the latest trends on TikTok or whatever app comes next would not only pull me away from my day to day life even further, but it would also only feed into more opportunities to intensify my anxiety.

3. Try not to take things too personally

For a self-proclaimed people-pleaser like myself, this was a tough lesson to learn. Just because someone doesn’t like my post, or read my blog or whatever doesn’t mean that they suddenly don’t like me. In the same way that if I see two friends have met up, they’ve not left me out for a reason. Life is busy, people are busy and not receiving a like or whatever form of validation from others doesn’t mean that you aren’t important to them.

4. Take a god damn break

For as long as you need. You are not obliged to be online and accessible 24/7. Take time for yourself to do things you enjoy. Fill your time with other activities. Read a book. Take a walk. If there is one thing I’ve learnt from this whole pandemic lockdown situation, it’s that the world is a much brighter and better place when you really take the time to reflect on what makes you happy, and then nurture those things.

And while you are offline, don’t consume yourself with what others might think of your absence. Don’t feel like you have to make an excuse for why you might have not tweeted for a few days. There is no need to explain, unless you feel like sharing: “I just needed some time with myself to refocus.” And leave it at that.

Do you suffer with social media anxiety? What tips do you have for coping? Let me know in the comments or check out my other mental health posts here.

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Comments

  1. Jenny in Neverland says

    This is a fantastic post, Abigail. It’s SO important to curate your feeds to suit you and your needs. There’s no need to be following something that just makes you feel bad about yourself. I think we all play the comparison game – I know I do. I think that’s human nature but it’s how we respond that’s important. These are great tips 🙂

  2. Gemma says

    I think this post resonates with so many of us. There was a time when social media anxiety really affected me due to making constant comparisons, then the realisation that social media only shows the good parts of people’s lives and so can’t accurately be compared helped me to overcome this. Your fourth point to limit the amount of time we spend on social media is also really important.

    https://www.thegutchoice.com

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