I am loving these modern art images by @dan_cretu. How good is this one? I feel like he explains so well our modern dilemma with social media.
In both of my sessions yesterday and in my MBSR course last week the discussion came around to how social media impacts on us. This topic comes up so often in my sessions that I have decided it’s time to share how I feel about it.
The reality is sometimes it’s awesome. I know it’s an important way to stay connected to community and let people know what I am doing. I have a belief that it can generate business and exposure, but interestingly I still find word of mouth and genuine connection works far better. Yet more than anything, what I am learning for myself, and what I am hearing from all of my clients is that Instagram and other social media can have a pretty significant cost on our wellbeing – especially if we are dealing with it mindlessly.
Fact: Social media can very easily switch on our bodies stress response
I will be the first to admit that I can get caught up in the endless/mindless scrolling of feeds or Instagram stories – I did it this morning! And what I notice, when I actually break the scroll and stop and tune in to my inner experience, is that what I am often feeling in my body is a sense of urgency. A feeling that I am not doing enough, a comparison of myself and all the amazing people out there doing really great stuff, a sense of insufficiency and definitely a sense of separateness. Not connectedness. Wasn’t the whole point that this social media thing to bring about connectedness?!?
If I don’t catch myself quite quickly – by using helpful mindfulness techniques to notice that I am caught up in this habit – I can very quickly get to a place where I feel stressed out, anxious or overwhelmed. How crazy that a full stress reaction can occur in my body from just looking at my phone for 10 minutes?
I am not alone. I hear versions of this so often in my courses and sessions it’s as if it needs a course of its own. How about ‘101 – Installing antivirus software in our minds – a course on upgrading the software in our prehistoric brains to keep up with the ferociousness of modern technology and social media’. Stay tuned, this might be coming very soon 😉
Fact: Mindfulness might be able to help us break these habits we have formed around social media and become more resilient to it’s effect
I don’t profess to have all the answers. Yet what I have experienced with my mindfulness practice is that I have strengthened my capacity to both notice, and break, these impulsive reactions that arise when caught up in a social media binge.
I am by no means free of getting caught up, but I catch myself more and more often, and when I do, I give myself a huge dose of kindness. I practice gratitude. I put down my phone. I take some breaths. I ground myself in what’s right here now. Very quickly I realise there is no urgency, there is just me doing the very best I can with the beautiful life I have. Agh, feels better already.
Without a doubt social media is here to stay, and I want it in my life, but I definitely want to continue to learn how to play with it more wisely.