Shanae Kelley MSW, LSW
During this time of shutting in, hoping to reduce the impact of COVID- 19, most of us have increased our use of devices and social media. Social distancing has made it difficult for us to spend time with the people we love and limited our ability to fulfill some of our basic human needs: human connection and the sense of belonging. The internet has provided us with amazing ways to stay connected during this difficult time. With our loved ones sometimes miles away, seeing them on social media can warm our hearts. It’s a way to remind us that we are still connected with the ones we love and still very much involved in their everyday lives.
Despite the many benefits of social media, excessive use can lead to loss of sleep, avoiding interaction with the people we actually live with, increased feelings of depression and anxiety, frustration, and/or dissatisfaction.
Social media gives us the opportunity to be flooded with information all day long. Much of what is shared can be negative. Also, there can appear to be so many perfect, unflawed people on the internet. Even the recorded challenging moments seem to be easily handled. If we’re not careful, we may find ourselves comparing our current situation to a random picture posted on Instagram. We all know it’s not reality, but comparison happens unconsciously. It starts something like “Oh… how nice”. Then turns to “I wish I had…”. Then unexplainable feelings of regret or inadequacy may arise.
If you can identify with anything in the last paragraph, it’s time to disconnect. Individuals with mental health challenges and struggles with depression or anxiety are at higher risk of experiencing the negative impact of social media. However, this does not exclude anyone. We are in a trying time and need to take care of our mental health.
The following tips may be helpful if you are experiencing distress due to excessive internet use:
· Set limits for online use
· Use an app to track how much time is really being spent on social media
· Turn off your device certain times a day.
· Spend quality time with the people you live with or connect with someone by talking to them.
· Limit exposure to information regarding COVID 19
· Do not bring your phone or tablet to bed
· Turn off notifications and limit checks on social media
Permission to disconnect. Permission GRANTED.