How Much is Too Much When It Comes to Social Media?

Image: @artographybyp

Four months ago I decided to deactivate my Facebook account, a decision I don’t regret in the least. In fact, the more time that goes by, the happier I am I did it.

Getting sucked into other people’s drama – often people you barely know – is draining. Honestly, I doubt very many people even notice I’m not on there anymore. But more importantly, I realize the harmful effects of social media burnout on me. Looking back I can see I was more irritable, frustrated and judgmental in my behavior, in part because of my fixation on that form of social media.

This is where self care enters the picture. Being able to recognize what we need is important.

According to clinical psychologist Ellen K. Baker, PhD, self care is comprised of three things:

  1. Self awareness of our mind, body and spirit

  2. Self regulation of physical and emotional impulses (both conscious and unconscious)

  3. Finding a balance between ourselves, others, and the greater community.

I love this. It explains a lot. I’m not crazy.

I wasn’t tending to my needs or taking care of myself like I should.

As weird as it sounds, on some level, I was letting Facebook dictate my emotions instead of practicing self care. As a result, I was hurting myself and others.

In addition to taking a break from social media, what did I do to get back on track and practice self care?

Here’s my list:

1. Quiet the monkey mind

As soon as I realize I’m spinning out of control or feeling a heaviness in my chest that can’t be ignored, I take action. Action means sitting quietly for a few minutes either on my yoga mat or in the shower. It’s a hard thing to do! Instead of dwelling on whatever is on my mind, I acknowledge it, watch it pass, and wait for the next thing to enter my mind. Eventually the ideas and thoughts slow down and I can just sit there and breathe.

2. Get physical

In the throes of my woes, it can be difficult to get moving. Just getting out the door and going for a walk is a great first step.

Sometimes simply enjoying your surroundings using the five senses is all you need to boost your mood. Consider it meditation in motion.

If it wasn’t for physical exercise and a new challenge, I wouldn’t feel like myself.

3. Find a good nurse

Talking to a caring professional who actually listens has been an important part of my self care. Nurse practitioners in my experience have been helpful in getting me healthy.

The nurse I currently see has a background in psychiatric mental health. She’s able to prescribe and monitor medications and ensure I make an appointment every six weeks or so.

4. Be nice to yourself

It’s perfectly ok to have a bad day or two. I try not to look at those days as setbacks but as opportunities from which to grow. Put things into perspective: if we can remember that the best view comes after the hardest climbs, we can be kinder to ourselves.

For people who are hard on themselves or very sensitive, it’s tough to do. Maybe a counselor can help give you the tools you need.

5. Lay off the sauce

Having an addictive personality myself, I realize regulating or quitting substances is a challenge for many people. We want to escape the pain, so numbing out with cocktails or glasses of wine seems like a reasonable solution.

Even though you may want to, it’s probably the worst thing to do. Alcohol interferes with one’s ability to reason and think rationally, especially for people prone to substance abuse.

It’s this vicious cycle of poor judgment, followed by self loathing, then numbing out – the cycle repeats. So don’t let it start.

A last thought on social media:

Although I am not currently on Facebook, I still use Twitter for networking purposes and to share my writing with others. I also am on Instagram because I enjoy sharing photos and seeing other people’s photos. I’ve found that people who want to be in my life are still in my life, whether on social media or in real life.

What are your thoughts on social media and self-care?

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