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How scrolling through social media can fuel social anxiety

Social anxiety is something that has mildly affected my life and in the era of social media, it can be suppressed and hidden so easily.

It has never been so easy to judge someone. Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are all reflections of our lives—but only the good bits. The bad bits of life aren't usually broadcast all over these sites and are often kept hidden in order to maintain a certain image online, which then makes it harder for you to talk about your problems online or in real life.

Whenever I feel low or bored the first thing I do is check Instagram. I think what we've all gotten so used to scrolling our troubles away. But our problems are still there when you've closed the app. It's only a form of escapism, not a solution.

This 'obsession' almost with social media can cause FOMO (fear of missing out) because you can easily see your friends having fun without you, but it's natural to feel low if you see this. This is a form of social anxiety and unfortunately, the feeling doesn't leave you quickly—no matter how confident or secure you are. What I do to get over this is to focus on what makes your friendships so secure in the first place.

Social media can affect the relationships you have in real life if you're glued to your phone, or if you can only communicate via text like many people in our generation; this can easily develop into social anxiety, which could then affect your future career.

Cady Cohen, a writer from the University of Central Florida, talks about how it affected her life, she states: "By having almost the entire world attached to their phones through social media, it can take a toll on romantic, personal and professional relationships. The constant need to click refresh allows little time for physical interaction."

How to relieve the anxiety caused by social media:
How about going a day without your phone?

I often do this on a Sunday—because let's be real the whole world is sleeping on a Sunday—I let my phone's battery die and don't put it on charge. This gives me time to breathe and relax without having to constantly check my phone.

So try and take a switch off day and focus on what you're doing. I noticed that at the start of a switch off day I'm very irritable—itching to go on my phone—but will power is key. I make sure I don't hastily grab for my charger, and by the middle of the day, I am a lot calmer.

Whenever you're scrolling through a social media app think about whether it's necessary, and remember that social anxiety can affect any of us and has become more common as a result of social media sites.

Apple has also introduced 'Screen Time' on their phones which allows you to track how many hours you spend on your phone each day, it can also tell you how much time you spend on social media sites. It's always good to check in on your screen time for your own wellbeing.

View this post on Instagram

A big list of anxiety coping statements. Last week I talked about one of my top strategies for anxiety being mindful acceptance alongside coping statements. So here are some ideas of what coping statements might sound like. Pick the ones that resonate with you, or come up with a list of your own. ? You can buy this as a digital download to print for yourself in my Etsy store. Link in my bio. Only a few dollars ? . . #mentalhealth #journeytowellness #selfcompassion #anxietysupport #selfcare #socialanxiety #selfcareisntselfish #selflove #mindfulness #anxiety #anxious #selfacceptance #depressionsupport #stressed #mindfulliving #mindfulpractice #innercritic #cartoon #illustrator #gratitude #mentalhealthawareness #cartoonart #drawing #copingskills #mentalhealthadvocate #counselling #illustration #wellbeing #mindful #psychology

A post shared by Journey to Wellness (@journey_to_wellness_) on

There are lots of other apps designed to decrease screentime, here are a few that can be used on both Apple and Android devices:

1. Forest is an app compatible with both Apple and Android. It works by you setting a timer and then the app grows a digital tree. If you do have the urge to pick up your phone, the app gives you a notification telling you that your plant will die—and no one wants to see a plant die

2. Flipd is an Apple app which allows you to lock your phone for a certain amount of time so once you press go there's no going back

3. Android also has an app called AppDetox which allows you to set how much time you want to be spending on your phone each day

4. Stay On Task is another app for Android. It gently reminds you to stay focused during the day

5. OFFTIME is an app for android and it lets you block certain apps, meaning that if you don't want to block an app then you don't have too

If you are still struggling to quit social media, try to create a positive space.

Social media is all about connecting with people and keeping updated, but it can also be a place of uniformity, with perfect faces and perfect meals and perfect friends. It's a facade. You can combat this by only following friends, people and influencers.

You can follow positive influencers such as:

Jameela Jamil - She is a true activist for body positivity and has called out major celebrities for their potentially harmful posts

Jessamyn Stanley - A powerful woman who preaches love and confidence

Luke Ambler - He is the founder of #itsokaytotalk, and an all-around inspiration for the work he does concerning mental health

Social media doesn't have to consume your life. Comment below with how you cut down on how much time you spend on social media.

Featured image: freestocks.org on Unsplash