We all tend to share our best bits and indulge in a bit of image crafting online (often unwittingly) as we share our moments, opinions and victories big and small. I think most of us can admit to feeling a bit bombarded with other's agendas and highlight reels, am I alone here?
This constant flow of other's thoughts can over time be a reminder of how isolated we are in our experiences and attitudes or how we are lacking in our possessions and achievements.
There is so much in the press about how bad social media is for our wellbeing. And I agree, it can be. As someone with a mental health condition it is hard enough to stay focussed and well in this challenging world we live in, even living with first world comforts, without constant and unsolicited reminders of everything I am not.
However, I am a big fan of what social media enables us to do overall; connect with others, access topic based, local or global information, news and trends and fundamentally express who we are in todays digital and fast moving age.
I have also lost count of the times that using social media has helped me connect with likeminded individuals, find local businesses and promote events in the community.
Importantly, during difficult times my online networks helped me remain connected with the world especially when I had trouble staying in touch with friends in person. It also gave me the confidence to pick up the strings of my offline life when I was feeling ready.
Overall social media helps me daily to feel less alone and I see something everyday that inspires me. This is because I learned the hard way that 'where attention goes, energy flows'. I am going to share a short series of social media tips for wellbeing over the next few weeks and it is starting with this one.
Many of us peruse Facebook, twitter and Instagram first thing in the morning, like our parents used to read the papers at breakfast (only we just have to reach out to the bedside table!). With a bit of effort we can be selective with some mindful awareness of our reactions to what we are seeing on our newsfeeds. Being aware of how social media affects your emotions can help you choose whose updates we want to see and engage with.
In my experience, a discrete unfollow now and then to groups, pages and even individual friends when it all gets a bit too much can ensure we feel better about what we do see on our social media feeds. Personally I have notifications and news updates turned off for all the groups I am in and liberally apply the unfollow button to friends and pages too.
When it comes to friends - and this may make me unpopular now I have admitted it (!!) - but the unfollow tip has helped me look after my wellbeing, avoid comparing my insides with others outside and still get the most out of my social media experience. Following only those friends who make you feel you can be yourself in person is a good rule of thumb in my book. Another one is that people don't notice an unfollow.
It seems a paradox that unfollowing a friend can actually be an act of compassion, for both yourself and your relationships but imho and experience it sure is.
How about you? Get in touch and let me know about your experiences using social media and how it affects your wellbeing.
More social media tips for wellbeing coming soon!