Social media stress is a thing. As small business owners we are aware of our need to connect online but in the same moment are finding ourselves struggle more and more with the fatigue and stress that come with this connection.
We are living through a time of overload. As we wake up into this world and go about our day we are exposed to incredible amounts of information, advertisements, and news (which is mostly negative). Through the development of new technologies, we as humans in the present moment are connected to and consuming online content at a rate never seen before in history.
We are dependent on our devices, addicted to the ‘social’ online world and expected to be available to respond to a text, reply to an email, or answer the phone at any given time. We use these platforms to create ‘success’ or compare our ‘successes’, and on top of this we connect our self-worth and relevancy to our online presence or following.
This level of tech engagement has become the new norm for us, even more so as we move through a pandemic, but is anyone else noticing it having an impact on their mental and physical wellbeing?
Our nervous system
The reality is social media and excessive technology use is increasing our daily levels of stress, but how?
Our stress response is controlled by a part of our nervous system called the AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM. This is the part that makes things happen in our body without us consciously knowing, for example controlling our breathing and our heart rate. Within this nervous system lives our SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM, which is the primitive system in our body that is constantly trying to protect us from threats to our survival.
What’s interesting about this part of our nervous system is that it operates without our conscious awareness, and it can be triggered by not only obvious threats to our survival like a masked intruder, but also perceived threats (things that aren’t necessarily an immediate threat to our survival).
What this means is that even reading a negative comment online, consuming distressing news, or seeing a photo that makes you feel inadequate can trigger your body to unconsciously launch a stress response and enter survival mode.
When we are in this ‘survival mode’ repeatedly throughout the day it impacts on our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Symptoms of stress
I. Digestive issues – alternating bowel movement, bloating & changes in appetite
II. Hormonal issues – period problems, changes in metabolism, energy lows, skin break outs & hair loss
III. Mental health issues – feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, unworthiness & apathy
IV. Immune issues – difficulty fight off or getting over infections & increased inflammation
Support yourself through
- Controlling your content – we have the control over what we consume. Remove anyone from your social media platforms that trigger a negative response in your body and upset your soul. Be conscious of the content you consume and how it may be shaping your decisions and sense of self.
- Allocating time blocks & taking regular breaks – if like us you have to use social media for your business allocate time in the day to check your socials, and then exit out of the apps for the day. Give yourself some tech free time in the morning before work and at night before bed to do activities that will calm down your nervous system and ground yourself in your body.
- Spending more time outdoors in nature - there is something so simple, yet powerful about disconnecting from technology and heading outdoors into nature. If you don’t have the time or aren’t geographically blessed to go for a big nature walk, simply take the time to sit outside (without your devices) with the sun on your face, take a moment to notice the clouds, the trees, the grass, the insects and the birds.
- Exploring your emotional connection to social media – consider reflecting on any what (if any) emotions come up for you when you think about disconnecting from social media and taking time away from your devices. Explore deeper where these feelings may be coming from, discuss these with a trusted friend/loved one, and seek extra support if you need.
- Mastering gentle tools to calm down your mind and body – there are a number of ways we can consciously convince our nervous system to exit out of ‘survival mode’ and enter into a restful, calm state. Deeping our breath, burning our favourite scent, drinking something tasty, listening to music, focusing on positive self-talk and connecting to our physical body through gentle stretching and touch/massage can help convince our unconscious mind that we are safe and free from threat. We love sipping on a Ground Me tea, burning Mellow essential oil, and giving ourselves a little face massage with Solace when we are feeling stressed, wired, or burnt out from too much time on our tech.
The irony of this journal entry being on the internet and promoted through our social media platform is not lost on us, but we feel spreading this important education via this medium will reach our readers and hopefully promote awareness around this growing issue.