Social Media and Anxiety

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Do you get anxious when you cannot check your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Social media anxiety is a condition that is similar to social anxiety disorder and is estimated to affect up to 20% of social media users.   According to the experts, almost 20% of people with social media accounts cannot go more than three hours without checking them.  I used to have difficulty with constantly checking my social media but I have begun to spend less time online and I do feel my anxiety has lessened.

Comparing yourself to others on social media can often lead to anxiety.  This is referred  as the compare-and-despair factor.  Looking at pictures of people on fancy vacations and seeing posts where people seem to be happy and carefree all the time  may cause you to feel like your life is boring in comparison.  However remember what people post on social media is only a small part of their life, you don’t truly know  what’s going on from pictures and posts.

Comparing can also lead to anxiety when it relates to followers or friends. For example, some people are often trying to get the most followers or friends, remember that having lots of friends and followers doesn’t indicate your worth as a person.  I recently deleted over 200 people from Facebook.

Another social anxiety  sometimes triggered by social media is the fear of missing out, (FOMO).  This is “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which you’re absent”. This is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”.

While there is nothing wrong with using social media, it is important to not neglect other areas in your life to be on Facebook, Twitter, etc.  A good technique is to set a specific amount of time when you will be on, for example 30 minutes per day.  Also if you delete the apps from your phone, you will probably spend less time on social media sites.  Cutting down can be difficult at first but once you do, you may find your anxiety lessened and you will also spend more time with others outside of the internet.

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