Dealing with my anxiety through a Social Media Hiatus

 

I’m currently experiencing a metamorphosis of sorts. And the cool thing about it is that it’s not even the New Year, so maybe it will result in change that is here to stay. As some of you may have noticed, I’ve disappeared from social media without warning for quite some time, so this blog post serves as my reasoning behind what’s been happening the last while.

 

The Anxiety

It started during a recent period in my life that was overwhelmingly busy. I had just taken on a side project that was exciting and would help cover some unforeseen financial sinkholes. Shortly after this, I was given the opportunity to further my studies in the field of User Experience, something I’ve always been passionate about, so my schedule and my life imploded pretty fast. I kept everything going, exceedingly well, for a couple of months, until I found myself in the doctor’s office one day, explaining to him how I was just sick all the time. Tired all the time. And so, so anxious. We talked, I filled out a little questionnaire about certain lifestyle things that would point to burnout and the result was that I was suffering from borderline depression and burnout. I had to make some lifestyle choices and soon, for the sake of my health and sanity. I didn’t even think about cutting out social media at the time until my husband pointed out just how much time I was spending on my phone. He suggested I start simplifying my life, one thing at a time, starting with a break from my phone and in turn social media. I didn’t really want to believe it until I cut it from my life, but for some people, including myself, social media can be toxic, leading to severe anxiety. There are various other things that added to the anxiety, I can’t fully blame it on Social Media, but cutting it was a very good start and actually made a huge difference. It gave me clarity about what was happening and what I had to change.

 

The Addiction:

I found myself spending and wasting so much time, consuming content. I found myself picking up my phone at the slightest sign of boredom. I found myself needing that little kick from a like or a follow – I both loved and hated the feeling at the same time. This happened even when I was in the company of people I love spending time with, even when I was supposed to pay attention to my child. The drive to create content was all-consuming in my thought world. I didn’t want to be held prisoner by these thoughts of what I want to write or post online anymore.

 

Time Out

I had to do some deep soul searching about what I want from social media and what I want from blogging. And especially what I don’t want from it. What I need to figure out now is how to manage this without spiraling again. I am certain about a few things, although I will admit I don’t have it figured out quite yet:

I don’t want to play the game. I don’t want to care about likes, followers or engagement rates. If I have a social media business, I’ll start caring about that, but for now I don’t depend on social media to feed me. If I want to play a game – a game where I actually stand a chance of winning, instead of being sucked into a toxic whirlpool – I will go back to playing Guild Wars or SimCity.

I don’t want that gnawing feeling in the back of my mind that urges me to check my notifications.

I don’t want to post EVERYTHING about my life and I don’t want to plan my life around what I want to post next, or even think about posting anything I’m doing in the now. I want to live life authentically, for the experiences, for the relationships, for the creation and for the beauty of it. I want to create beautiful pictures and perhaps share them later as an afterthought, because I do want to share what I see and feel in the hopes that someone gets real value from it.

I don’t want fame or fortune. All I really want is a real human connection and to consume content that is true, authentic and creative. I want to be exposed to art and beauty. I hate ads and I hate sponsored posts. I want to trust people’s opinions about brands and products because I know they had a need and they tried and tested it and loved it for themselves. I understand that some people make a living from their blog and that is totally fine, there is definitely a place for that. I personally used many of these blogs in the past to look for local products I can buy for myself and my family, so they serve an important role for small business if done right and at the same time provide financially for individuals. If done right, it can be a beautiful thing. If done wrong, the content can feel forced and a little suffocating (personally, I’m not saying everyone feels this way). Social media can be crucial for small businesses and I speak from personal experience. I run my mom-in-law’s small business online and manage social media on her behalf. I may even have to rely on social media soon to support my own ventures, so it’s great for that, but for my personal life and my personal blog, I want to have very strict rules in place for myself going forward. I want to always ask myself: How is this valuable to someone else? How is it valuable time spent for myself? If it doesn’t provide real value in some way, then I don’t want to do it anymore. Strangely enough, before I set out on this personal blogging journey called All of the Above, I feared these exact things happening, so now I need to figure out how to keep myself from slipping again.

I want to spend my time on things that bring me value: Pursuing a relationship with God, family, friends. Experiencing and learning new things. Creating beautiful things for the fun of it and sharing it with others in the hope of bringing them value and maybe a little bit of joy.

 

Am I happier?

Well, maybe a little, but only because I’m calmer. I’m not happy all the time, but that’s not because of using or lack of using social media. A lot of things are still going on behind the scenes. I am still very busy and there is also massive change on the horizon. I am working on being less busy, on owning less clutter, on being still more often. I admire people who abandon social media altogether in search of a simpler life. Perhaps they discovered the secret to being okay with your own company in simplicity and silence.

 

Conclusion

The sad thing is that I’m sure what I’m going through is not unique to me personally and I often wonder about how I will raise my child to be equipped in dealing with this and maintaining a healthy mental state. We’re hardly equipped in dealing with this ourselves, being the guinea pigs of a social age, so how do we teach the next generation?

 

3 Replies to “Dealing with my anxiety through a Social Media Hiatus”

  1. Next time I’m in SA I want us to go for coffee, or wine. Whatever goes. I’ve noticed these very things for myself and been wondering how to simplify. Good on you!

    1. YES! Let’s have coffee and wine in the future Jen. You see, Social Media, when it provides a real human connection, it serves a good wholesome purpose. So even though I’m cutting back on it all, I am really glad I met you through it 🙂

  2. Next time I’m in SA I want us to go for coffee, or wine. Whatever goes. I’ve noticed these very things for myself and been wondering how to simplify. Good on you!

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