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6 tips to deal with social media stress

November 18, 2020 13:24 IST
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Is social media making you unhappy?

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

If one were to think of these two words, obviously the choice would be to think of 'pleasure' as something good and 'pain' as something bad.

It sounds abstract because now, you might want to ask: good or bad but where and when and how?

What if we give it a context first so that these two words start to have some meaning?

Let's talk of it in the physical nature of things.

Someone who loves you dearly, hugs you, that is immense pleasure and when you cut your finger while chopping vegetables, that is intense pain.

I am sure that in the physical world, these words are well-defined for you to understand them and also agree with me.

But what about what Is going on in the mind? I mean, how does the mind fathom pleasure and pain?

An easy example would be: When you post an image on Facebook or Instagram, maybe you took time to photoshop it and add a couple of filters so that you look your best.

Then you anxiously twiddle your thumb every 30 to 45 seconds to see who has liked it, what their comments are, who loved it.

Come on, don't we know that every emoji has a different meaning to you?

And the anxiety can be palpable, because you are at the mercy of:

  • People's thoughts, their past experiences of whether you liked their posts
  • The time of the day that you have posted,
  • The privacy setting of the post,
  • The hash tags that you have used to boost your post,
  • The friends that you have tagged,
  • The location tag that you have added, and so much more.

Look at the variables that I have listed above.

Fighting each is a battle of its own and you start to evaluate yourself and your good looks based on the performance of that cursed post.

Haven't we all been a victim of the abuse from social media at one point of time in our lives or the other?

Haven't we been quick to decide our self-image and dismiss our self-worth all in a jiffy?

Haven't we punished ourselves enough by being at the mercy of people?

Haven't we chosen pleasure at the cost of pain?

That's Social Media for you!

A set of algorithms that play havoc with your mind, messing your thoughts up and instilling fears that possibly never existed before.

How did you allow a complete stranger a place in your mind?

How did you allow random people on Facebook to tell you nasty things about you?

And with the COVID-19 situation, I guess the Screen Time has gone up drastically.

People are feeling lonely without much social contact and this has allowed them to spend more hours on social media even at the cost of being contacted by random strangers.

Now, I am no one to judge whether you must accept a random person's friend request or not; but the perils especially for a woman who has no outlet for these emotions can easily fall prey to a man who has uploaded a profile picture that is cute looking but is not him.

He goes by so many names, so many different occupations and you didn't even know, did you?

Pleasure for the mind at that instant leading to pain.

You reprimand yourself for being married and checking these profiles and chatting with random men and well, young girls also fall prey to this.

And what about, young boys who are lured into gaming and asked confidential information only to be against them later?

Pleasure at that instant leading to pain...

Why do you despite knowing all this still choose to put yourself through this pain?

Simple... our brain knows happy from sad and that dopamine kick to feel happy is what is searches for and it takes the easy way out.

Ask a person who smokes or drinks; instant pleasure... no one thinks of the long-term pain though they are aware of it.

The brain tells you how happy you are and makes you repeat that behaviour over and over again so you feel that same happy kick repeatedly.

Your happy place is what is sadly now been decided by others and Social Media as a stranger has been allowed to comment, like, dislike, be angry.

A faceless entity has empowered people to make you feel a particular way when the power of choosing a feeling is yours, but the task of choosing is a daunting one for you.

What if you empowered yourself where you choose to feel the way that you want instead of the world doing that job for you?

Is this possible? Oh yes, it is... Read on...

But let me tell you a little more about how you have isolated yourselves in the name of Social Media Capital and what it has cost you is your peace and a false sense of being liked and popular!

Those likes and hugs emojis are freely available for anyone to use them for you at will. Don't mistake that for true care and love.

You have isolated yourselves and now more than ever with the forced situation of little social contact; the only refuge is to be online to connect and feel the immense pleasure.

No one thinks of what happens when that picture gets a few days old and the likes lose its sheen and you feel completely out of energy as the instant pleasure wears down; you simply cook an amazing dish and post a picture of it and the loop continues.

And you have invited an artificial sense of belonging into your world.

How can you reverse this and feel a sense of fulfilling happiness and pleasure within? Of course, without the pain threatening to strike you?

1. Connect with an old friend

Sometimes a mere call can re-establish a wonderful friendship that had gone dry making you feel warm and loved with a sense of a long-term association

2. Revive an old hobby

Sometimes, what we had given up for lack of time, can be delved deeper into and as you learn it all over again, you not only find a sweet passionate joy in it but also, a feeling a self-worth to it

3. Spend time in nature

Mother Nature can be very embracing and a simple walk on grass can energise you from within fuelling the entire day for you.

4. Discard useless messages

Any and every message on any chat interface does not require your response.

Think whether it has any value and discard the rest to feel in control about what you read and respond to.

5. Be around loved ones

Connect with the ones that care and love you genuinely for who you are and where you need not hide your greys or wrinkles.

6. Keep that phone away

It's okay to discipline yourself to a schedule of when to be on phone or not so you are not hanging by the demands of every notification tone from it

And now that you have done this, you will find a slow sweet pleasure and no pain. The only pain is right now as you think: 'How am I going to do this?'

Social Media isn't a bad place when you think of it as only a place where we connect, enjoy like we would in a party and then come back home to our loved ones where we can be ourselves.

So, come back home and see what awaits you and with open arms forcing with no choice but to be your true self and offering you happiness from within!

Choose wisely and this power of choice from that artificial world to a natural world may be a cause for a little discomfort, but rest assured that it will be something that you will thank yourselves for!

So, all pleasure and no pain; come back home to where you always belonged!

Anu Krishna is a Mind Coach, NLP Trainer, Zen Lifestyle Expert and has recently released her book The Secret of Life – Decoding Happiness.
She is also the Founder of Soulful Exploration LLP and Unfear Changemakers LLP.

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