Electronics can be great. We love having our gadgets connected to us and we love having what our gadgets connect us to. The amount of information available at the touch of a finger (thanks to the internet) is life changing. FaceTime with family has changed the way we interact and stay close to distant relatives. Social media connects us with friends and family that we don’t get to see often. There are wonderful mental health and meditation apps on phones and computers these days. Connectivity anywhere, anytime allows flexibility at work to check and manage email when out-of-office.
As a psychotherapist that focuses on helping those with anxiety, I see a lot of college and graduate students in my office. Many of these young adults use their phones and social media in a way that increases their anxiety. Being active on social media can attribute to the fear of missing out. It can also lead to constantly comparing your lives to others. It can also provide a false sense of social support. It can reinforce those negative thoughts in our head that we are not good enough or that others are better than us.
While not all use of social media is negative it is important to unplug once in a while. Instead of grabbing for your phone in a moment of anxiety make time for mindfulness and bring yourself into the present. Focus on your breath, notice your discomfort, observe and let is go. When you are using social media be aware of how you feel. If you notice your anxiety symptoms arising or getting worse it is time to set a boundary and put your device down.
Besides practicing mindfulness when you are feeling anxious it can also be helpful to take a walk, spend time in nature, connect with a friend, exercise, read a book or practice another form of self-care.
Julie C. Kull is a licensed psychotherapist in Madison, WI with more than 10 years experience providing psychotherapy for young adults and adults with anxiety. She also provides psychotherapy for adults dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss. She is currently working in private practice in Madison, WI and sees clients in office and online. She is licensed by the State of Wisconsin and holds a Master of Social Work from the University of St. Thomas/College of St. Kates. Learn more about her at www.kullcounselingmadison.com.