I am teaming up with Mary Del Rosario on a topic we both find important given the current state we are in. Mary is the lead writer/editor for Stars and Stripes- a multimedia news organization for US service members, their dependents, DoD civilians and retirees. I am including a Link to her website at the bottom of her article.
The Importance of Mental Health in the Digital Age
By Mary Del Rosario
We’ve all been there: scrolling through social media on our devices and one by one, feeling our worth diminishing. With every photo, reel, and video popping up on our feed, a pang of something uncomfortable hits our gut. Is it jealously, anxiety, worry, happiness, all of the above? While social media has many positives, a negative side effect is the decline of our mental health. With so many influencers to aspire to be, products to buy, and what seems like “negative” news, it’s difficult to keep that positive energy in check.
As the lead content designer for a multimedia news organization, it is my job to be in the know of certain trends, be it content or social media strategy. I’m fully enveloped by social media outlets—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and even TikTok—are apps that I’m in constant connection with.
Don’t get me wrong. From a business standpoint, social media is the best way to promote your company, product, brand, etc. However, from an individual standpoint, social media may dwindle your self-esteem and the way you perceive yourself and your environment. Personally, I’ve noticed the latter when I started researching how to become a freelancer. Typing in “portfolio examples” and “freelance writer landing pages” on Google was enough to get my anxiety going. While vehemently stalking fellow freelancers’ pages, I began to go down a rabbit hole of self-worth and wondered what I got myself into. Seeing the women with professionally taken photos while showcasing all the impressive work they have done for big companies made me feel so small in comparison. As if who I was, and what I did wasn’t enough, although my job qualifications are just the same.
So, I did what any normal (is it normal?) person would do and started inquiring about photographers in my local area who were willing to take headshots of me. Corporate headshots were not what I was after. It was the ones I saw on Instagram and LinkedIn I wanted. You know, the girl with the fake laugh as she picks up her coffee mug while sitting on her chair in a modern office setup? After some photographers gave me their rates, I started thinking, “Is all of this money and time really worth it just to prove I’m just as good as the other women I see on social media?” Sure, I’d like to get there someday, and I know having a professional site is important, but I know this glamorous shoot is just a band aid to what is the real problem—thinking I’m not good enough.
After many restless nights and self-depreciation, I decided to kick back that bad habit, and take my life back. Below are a few tips that helped me realign my thoughts and lower my anxiety when it comes to social media.
- Remember that social media is just a highlight of everyone’s life. This tip is one that I still need to keep reminding myself of. Though easier said than done, the best way to manifest positive energy is by remembering that the photos, reels, or stories you see on social media is a snippet of someone’s life. You never know—the influencer with the cute outfit in an Instagrammable cafe may have had a breakdown moments before capturing that shot. Keeping in mind that the people on your feed are wanting to put their best selves out there will keep your anxiety in check because you know their highlight is just that: a small glimpse into their life.
- Ditch the comparison game. Instead of trying to keep up with Jones’ and constantly comparing yourself to others, remind yourself of all that you do have, instead of feeling pity for all the things you don’t have. Rework your frame of mind to think that you don’t need to starve yourself and do cardio all day just because you saw a person on your feed looking fit and healthy while sunbathing in an expensive bikini.
- Take a social media break. Sometimes when it gets to be too much, I like to deactivate my personal accounts and unplug from the digital world. I allow myself to get bored and though the temptation to reinstall Facebook or Instagram is sometimes there, I tell myself that a break is what my brain needs. It’s also a good way to pick up a new hobby, instead of looking down at your screen all day long.
- Read books or listen to a podcast. I love a good motivational book or podcast that talks about positivity. “Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis is my current book of the month.
- A happy mind and body will lead to a happy life, and with meditation, you’ll be able to focus on your inner-self and produce positive thinking. Think of it as decluttering your mind and eliminating the noise social media produces.
- Talk it out. Sometimes it’s good to talk to a professional or licensed therapist. Despite the taboo, therapy is a great way to work through your anxiety and does wonders to your mental health. With so many online therapists to choose from, getting help is easier than ever.
- Do some spring cleaning. I’m not talking about deep cleaning your house. I’m talking about going through your friends list and seeing if your followers are the type of people you want to share your social media life with. You don’t need to follow some model if they make you feel insecure all the time. You also don’t want to follow that one Facebook “friend” who always posts negative memes.
- Know your worth. This is probably the most important tip to follow. Though it may sound cliché, knowing your worth can make all the difference in your confidence in the digital age. Stop comparing yourself to others, and see that everyone has their own journey, and will accomplish their goals at one’s own time.
Check out more of Mary’s articles at: https://europe.stripes.com/