Social media anxiety has been affecting me lately. And I know I’m not alone, because talking to others has shown me that a lot of people are going through the same thing.
My work relies on social media. And for a long time, I had fun with it. Ten years ago, I created the entertainment brand Hollyscoop, and I used social media to promote it. It took off, leading to a Hollyscoop show that ran for five years on The CW, and to a Hollyscoop YouTube channel that’s about to hit 1 million subscribers. Social media has provided endless opportunities and benefits for growing my brands.
But, lately, social media feels not only addictive but deceptive. Despite my successes, looking at everyone else’s feeds sometimes makes me feel unaccomplished, even though I’ve achieved so much and I’m grateful for it all.
And that’s not to mention the constant bullying people dish out on social media. I can’t count the number of times people have commented in my feeds calling me a Kim Kardashian wannabe just because I love makeup. (To be honest, I take that as a compliment, because Kim is beautiful and an inspiration.)
Social media anxiety is real, and it can be worse for your health than smoking. At least that’s what some studies say. But what worries me more than my own anxiety is how it’s going to affect my kids when they get older.
If you feed your energy to the emotional sinkholes of FOMO, sadness and self-doubt, those negative feelings will consume you. So maybe a friend didn’t like a post or comment of mine. Can I really afford to let that mess up my day? It’s not a productive outlet for my mental or emotional energy. And as a working mother, I have no time for that. I need to project my energy positively, for the sake of my job, my kids and myself.
With all those negative projections in mind, I did some social media soul searching. And I figured out a few ways to not let these things bother me. Here are my strategies to combat social media anxiety.
Take Social Media Breaks
You don’t have to be plugged into your social accounts constantly. Schedule the times of day that you spend on social media as well at the times when you do other things. My husband and I created a new rule at home that when we sit down for dinner together, our phones aren’t allowed in the dining room. That’s our time to spend talking and connecting with each other instead of looking at our phones and watching what other people are doing.
Take Weekends Off
Weekends were designed to be time off, time to relax. So I’ve been trying to stay away from social media on weekends. Social media is a part of my job. I can’t avoid it entirely. But I don’t need to dedicate my whole life to it, spending every minute of every day on the phone. Instead, I spend weekends focusing on my kids, reading books, seeing friends, watching Netflix and doing whatever else makes me happy.
Remember That Social Media Followers Don’t Actually Make You Social
I know plenty of people who have millions of Instagram followers. But, in real life, some of them can’t make a friendship last longer than a day. I’m talking about real friendships, the ones that are based on years of building strong bonds. Remember who your real friends are and how important they are to you. Bring things into perspective and value your true friends outside of social media.
Don’t Take Things Personally
Instagram has become a numbers game. I used to get so upset when people didn’t invite me to events or when brands didn’t want to work with me. I have to remind myself that social media is a marketing tool. If you can’t help sell a product or don’t match what a company’s brand ambassadors look like, then they probably won’t work with you. But that’s a business decision, not a personal one. It has nothing to do with who you are or the fact that you are worthy. And if a friend doesn’t like your post? Hey, maybe they didn’t see it. Don’t jump to conclusions and assume they don’t like you.
Unfollow When You Need To
Is there someone you follow on social media who makes you feel badly? There’s a simple solution to that problem: Unfollow them! Don’t get stuck in the Instagram hole or caught in the game. Practice self-care. Just click the unfollow button and you’ll notice how quickly that toxic person stops affecting you.
Don’t Buy Into Social Media Illusions
People curate their Instagram pages and Facebook accounts to show off how great their lives are. I’m a positive and optimistic person, and I like to showcase that on social media. I want my work to inspire people, so I don’t throw my everyday problems in my followers’ faces. But everyone has problems. Most people don’t share every unfortunate or horrible thing that happens to them, even though we all experience tough times. The result is that focusing on social media, especially when you’re going through a rough patch, can be isolating or make you feel like you’re failing. Remember that just because someone posts something, it doesn’t tell you their whole story.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
This is the most important lesson to learn. Only you are you. No one else is on the same journey that you’re on. So don’t compare yourself to anyone else. A lot of people who are just starting out tell me they want to achieve the success I’ve spent the 10 years creating. That’s great, and inspiration is important. But success is never instant. The beauty is in learning from your mistakes and seeing yourself create something from scratch. So have patience, because anything good takes time to build. And don’t get caught up in other people’s business. You never know what someone else has done or what they’ve been through to get where they are. If someone is successful, I guarantee they shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears to earn their success.