This week I had been feeling in a particularly low mood- low motivation, low desire for the things I typically enjoy, low interest in planning and purely just a low state of mind. Being that I have dealt with anxiety my entire life and depression in the more recent, early adult, years – I am well accustomed to these changes in moods. But still, this low state came to be a surprise when it outlasted its typical length of time, longer than I had experienced since first managing my PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). While I could go into more detail, this post isn’t about the specifics of the past week and a half, but rather it’s a post to share one of the particular patterns of behavior that I began to recognize as contributing to this prolonged low mood- my tendency to use social media to compare and despair. This common phenomenon really couldn’t be anymore of a self -sabotaging act to partake in, especially during these low moods as it only led me to compare my low moods and lowest moments to the highlights of others that were being posted on social media! It wasn’t until I confided in my sister, who happens to be a therapist, about having a hard time not comparing myself that I truly began to stop and think about this form of self-sabotage when my sister looked at me and said “Mads, it’s called compare and despair for a reason- it will only make you feel worst” and only then did I begin to re-establish my relationship with social media. So, after allowing this unhealthy pattern of behavior happen for far too long – I began to come up with self-care ideas for myself to help set up boundaries with social media ,especially during those low moods or the weeks I know that I am more vulnerable to comparing and despairing (aka the week before my period)!
Self-Care Ideas And Setting Boundaries With Social Media:
- If it is a particularly low day I just need to log off. I have to give myself a set time away from any social media and my phone if it isn’t necessary for other uses. That means that if I find myself feeling worst after logging onto social media, that I need to stop, log off and put the phone down and be present for the rest of the afternoon with absolutely no more social media time. Recognizing when I am in a vulnerable state of mind that social media makes me that much more susceptible to using it in the ways that no one would advocate for and in particular to compare my low moments to others highlights.
- Reminding myself that no one will have the same timeline. We are all individual humans with different strengths and different life paths which means that the timeline of our happiest most instagrammable moments will all look different! This may be hard to remember when we want something that someone on our feed is posting about that maybe we have yet to experience or accomplish but reminding yourself of the times where your path/ timeline has differed from friends, peers, family etc. and reminding yourself that it turned out okay because here you are today! Be excited that you have a different path and timeline- it means you have no idea what’s to come and what exciting experiences you have yet to have!
- Reminding yourself that social media should be taken with a grain of salt. While we love it for what it can do and connect us to others, we also must realize that everyone is able to filter what they are choosing to post about which means that it is likely that you are seeing a filtered, happier moment of that individual’s life and you have no idea outside of that one post what is going on in their life.
- Setting a limit. This is one that my bestie Sara shared with me recently. I have heard it countless of times but have been more intentional about sticking the limit when the reminder pops up on my phone and get off social media or wrap it up! If you haven’t started doing this – head to your setting and set what you think is a reasonable limit for daily social media time and when that reminder comes up think about cutting back or logging off for the day.
- Be intentional about who you follow. This is critical to practicing self-care and especially establishing boundaries with social media- follow those who make you feel good about you and unfollow those who do not! Why keep that specific account on your feed if it makes you anxious or makes you easily suspetible to comparing?! I find such a difference in my state of mind when I log on and only look at stories of the influencers that I love and always have a very supportive take on the way that they discuss topics and for that reason I only allow my time on social media to be spent on those accounts along with those I know and love who are closest to me!
If you enjoyed this post on self-care and setting boundaries with social media, check out my self-care tips here! 🙂