How to overcome social media anxiety...is it even possible?
I stared at the crowded LinkedIn feed which seemed to stretch a mile long as I scrolled and scrolled.
"So many people on here, all with happy faces, big accomplishments, ultra successful businesses, and 500+ followers and hundreds of likes", I thought.
I could feel my heart rate start to increase and my breathing speed up.
Hoping to feel a little relief from the start of panic, I clicked on my profile and looked at my followers and connections.
81 followers and 45 connections. Crap.
"I've poured my heart out writing very personal posts on this social media platform...and they're seen by almost no one."
I felt my energy sink, and it was in that moment, that I connected with the intelligence of my heart and made a life-changing decision.
Endless Scrolling Comes With a Price
According to statista.com, "The United States reached over 302 million social media users in 2022, a number which is projected to increase steadily and reach 327.22 million by 2027."
So, I don't believe I'm alone in feeling anxiety or worry on a social media site like LinkedIn.
As you know, there are many others today - Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram.
You may turn to social media for many reasons:
- You have a fear of missing out (FOMO) on the latest trends or news happening, events, or you'll be left out of a conversation at school or work.
- You feel that your relationships will suffer if you're not there to like a friend's post or comment on it right away.
- If you're feeling bored, anxious, or lonely, social media may become a "security blanket" to help ease feelings of overwhelm or sadness.
Here in Fort Myers, FL at a natural grocery store called Ada's, when I shop there, I always pick up the Natural Awakenings Magazine which has a number of holistic wellness articles and fun local events going on.
They recently published an article that stated:
"With 82 percent of Americans using apps like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, scrolling through social media has become an unconscious automatic behavior for many. But that distraction comes with a price, indicates a new study by the UK’s University of Bath.
Half of the 154 participants ages 18 to 72 stopped using virtually all social media for one week, reducing their average usage time from eight hours to 21 minutes for that period.
After the seven days, they showed significant improvements in their well-being, depression and anxiety scores compared to those in a control group that did not take such a break. “Scrolling social media is so ubiquitous that many of us do it almost without thinking, from the moment we wake up to when we close our eyes at night,” says lead researcher Jeff Lambert. “But if you are spending hours each week scrolling and you feel it is negatively impacting you, it could be worth cutting down on your usage to see if it helps.”
Feeling Free and Kinda Weird At The Same Time
Remember that life-changing decision that I told you about in the beginning?
Well, I knew that I needed to overcome social media anxiety.
So, I've decided for my own mental health and for my business to quit social media for good.
Yep, no more LinkedIn.
Once I made that decision, I felt a huge sense of relief in my body, however, as I write this, I can also feel my brain sort of detoxing.
I know it sounds weird...and it feels even weirder.
My brain was so used to having the constant impulse of information from social media (seeing posts, comments, likes, what other people were up to, etc.) that without it now, I'm finding my focus increasing and I'm more present with myself in a great way!
I now have more time to blog, meet people at in-person networking events, go walk on the beach and watch the sunset, hang out with friends, listen to podcasts, read books, and so much more :)
Robert Frost Said It Best and You May Want To Follow His Advice
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” ~ Robert Frost
Let's be honest, it can be scary walking down the path to the right, when the rest of the crowd is taking the path to the left.
It takes courage, self-love (doing what's best for YOU), and heart.
You don't have to quit social media as I did.
However, if you do decide to stay on it, how can you overcome social media anxiety and settle your worry or overwhelm every time you scroll the feed?
Take Action On These Two Simple Suggestions
Here are two suggestions you can put into practice today around how to overcome social media anxiety:
Before, during, and after do some heart-focused breathing:
Before you go onto social media connect with your heart.
During your social media scroll, connect with your heart.
After you get off of social media, connect with your heart.
When you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed looking at all of the social media posts, your body is releasing a lot of cortisol which is keeping you in a fight/flight response.
This amps up your anxiety and causes your heart and brain to go out of sync. When your heart and brain are out of sync, it's hard to think clearly, make a good decision, or see a way forward.
In short, you become stuck and overwhelmed.
Heart-focused breathing will cause your heart and brain to sync up (like your computer synching up to wifi) and you'll be able to stay calm, focused, and in control of your emotions.
Set a timer on your phone and stick to it
Instead of getting lost in a sea of posts, set a timer on your phone once a day for social media interaction.
It may be 30 minutes a day for example, and be clear why you are going on there.
Do you need to write a post?
Reply to a few comments?
Are you looking for a fun weekend event to go to?
Once that 30 minutes is up go do something fun - take a walk outside, call a friend, play with your cat or dog, listen to some music, run through a sprinkler, or read a book.
This may take some practice, however, it's well worth it!
Just focusing on these two suggestions will help you to experience less anxiety, worry, and overwhelm and over time, increase your mental well-being.
And maybe, just maybe you'll be writing a blog post about how quitting social media changed your life.
Your Next Gentle Step
It can take courage to go against what most people are doing, and if you want to leave social media completely, remember the wise words of Robert Frost:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
If you don't, that's okay. Just connect with your heart before you hop on a social media platform and limit your time as I've suggested :)