Social media, mental health, and strategies to avoid overusing it

This is probably one of the most talked about issues right now. Most people love social media. Sharing pictures, liking, commenting. It feels like socializing. You get in touch with people that are far away or close by. It’s fun and a time waster. It’s addictive. Every notification is a dopamine spike. We get hooked and spend more and more time on it. Too tired to do something productive, it’s easy to just scroll through Facebook or Instagram.

It’s an artificial world, where everyone is happy and on their best behavior. Or not but we are always in PR mode. “Look at this beautiful place”, “Look at this wonderful food”. If you’re not in the best place right now, it’s better not to be on Facebook or other toxic social media sites.

woman

At least here on WordPress, people get vulnerable. They talk about their victories, their defeats and everything in between. You are not bombarded by selfies or animal abuse videos or all that other crap you see on Facebook. This is a social platform for readers, writers, and curious people.

I definitely feel much better since I stopped using Facebook so much but let’s see what science says about it:

According to a recent study by UK disability charity Scope, of 1500 Facebook and Twitter users surveyed, 62 percent reported feeling inadequate and 60 percent reported feelings of jealousy from comparing themselves to other users.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/nurturing-self-compassion/201703/mental-health-and-the-effects-social-media

Social media can cause depression, according to this recent study.  If you feel jealous or envious of your Facebook friends, it’s better not to have an account. As I’ve said before, it’s addictive, so it’s easy to keep going despite the fact that it’s making you miserable. It causes more sadness and less joy. It’s only natural for us to compare ourselves to others and on Facebook that is inevitable.

depressed woman

Human beings are always looking for satisfaction. Most people aren’t satisfied with their lives and virtual socializing seems safer. But it’s not. It can be in a sense but we need to feel a real connection. To be with people in real life, create bonds, etc. We weren’t made to be alone all the time. Humans are social species.

In fact, another study found that social media use is linked to greater feelings of social isolation. The team looked at how much people used 11 social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat and Reddit, and correlated this with their “perceived social isolation.” Not surprisingly, it turned out that the more time people spent on these sites, the more socially isolated they perceivedthemselves to be. And perceived social isolation is one of the worst things for us, mentally and physically.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#721f75612e5a

You’re shaping your reality and isolating yourself, under the false pretense of effortless socializing. You will perceive yourself to be more alone and that also contributes to depression or sadness.

Meanwhile another survey of 1,000 British women by Forza Supplements found that 82% of respondents “edit” their holiday photographs before posting them online in order to ensure that they are shown to the greatest advantage; 34% use filters on Instagram to finesse their appearance. Additionally 76% of respondents said they have felt embarrassed by photos posted by friends or family members that included them, and 57% have actually asked these friends or family members to take a photo down because they considered it so unflattering.

Source: https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/230900/social-media-makes-users-feel-ugly-inadequate.html

So, people are altering themselves to fit in, to have more likes and receive compliments. We have to be flawless at all times. This isn’t healthy, it’s shaping our perception and putting pressure on us. It’s unrealistic and harmful. Artificial is the new natural. I fear the impact of this on society.

Everything that exists, in this life, is connected to something else. We are all connected and the internet connected us even more (even if in an illusory way). A comparison is inevitable in this environment. We see other people’s lives and automatically compare it to ours. This is very toxic and can lead to depression. It also leads to jealousy.

 (…) it can become a vicious cycle: feeling jealous can make a person want to make his or her own life look better, and post jealousy-inducing posts of their own, in an endless circle of one-upping and feeling jealous.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#720d85352e5a

We should always look at things this way: this person looks like she has a perfect life but everyone has trials and tribulations. They don’t show you when they cry, when they scream, when they are angry and frustrated. No one is perfect or has a perfect life. If you feel like you’re in this infinite loop of jealousy, avoid Facebook or unfollow your most successful Facebook friends or the ones that like to brag about their lives.

Part of the unhealthy cycle is that we keep coming back to social media, even though it doesn’t make us feel very good. This is probably because of what’s known as a forecasting error: Like a drug, we think getting a fix will help, but it actually makes us feel worse, which comes down to an error in our ability to predict our own response. One study looked at how people feel after using Facebook and how they think they’ll feel going in. Like other studies suggested, the participants in this one almost always felt worse after using it, compared to people engaging in other activities. But a follow-up experiment showed that people generally believed that they’d feel better after using, not worse. Which of course turns out not to be the case at all, and sounds a lot like the pattern in other types of addiction.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#720d85352e5a

I remember one day, I was particularly sensitive and I came across a video of animal abuse. Distressed and uneasy, I logged off and swore I would never log in again. One hour later, I was back. Just like an addict who is caught by the police, while buying drugs and buys drugs the day after that, most of us return to Facebook after seeing something distressing or disturbing. It’s important to break this cycle.

man thinking forest

Strategies to avoid Facebook and other social media sites

Evaluate your relationship with Facebook, how it affects you and make a conscious choice. There are strategies to avoid Facebook or other social media sites. If you have a pc and a cellphone, try to make it a habit not to use Facebook on your computer, just on your phone. Spend time doing other things on your computer, like watching movies, series, doing a course, watching interesting YouTube videos or documentaries. Even better is to see your friends in real life, take a walk, enjoy nature, read a book, meditate. There is a number of great things you can do in real life.

Set a time to check Facebook or just go with the flow and you may forget it exists for a few hours. Then, check your notifications and scroll for a few minutes, ideally less than five. Don’t get sucked into the rabbit hole, there’s a world outside. A palpable, more real world.

As you detox from it, you’ll start to notice that you spend less and less time there. You will start to value your other activities and understand that Facebook and other social media sites are a trap.

Conclusion

Facebook and other sites were created and designed to keep us hooked, in order to sell things to us. Gather our information and sell it to God-knows-who. It knows almost everything about us, based on our likes. It’s also an echo-chamber, somewhere where we just see what the algorithm thinks we want to see. This is also harmful, as we should be informed about various points of view., in order to not have a very biased opinion.

It’s also important to think that our time is finite and that wasting it on toxic platforms is not the best way to live. There are other activities that are more constructive and positive.

 

 

 

BPD and FP (Favorite Person)

What is a Favorite Person(FP)?

When you think about who your favorite person is, you might think of your significant other, best friend or someone else. It just means that you love that person. It has a different meaning for people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

When someone with BPD uses the term “favorite person” to describe someone else, they are typically insinuating that this is a person they cannot survive without. For BPD sufferers, the favorite person is the person who is a source of emotional support and dependence. This individual has the ability to truly impact the BPD sufferer’s day in either a positive or negative manner. The favorite person to someone with BPD holds a critical role in their lives by holding the power to ‘make or break’ the successful navigation of daily tasks and struggles.

Source: https://mindcology.com/borderline/guide-bpd-favorite-person-relationship-dynamic/

One can have one or many FPs. People with BPD need constant reassurance, advice and help to make decisions, among other things. We need to know we have someone we can turn to when things get rough. Someone who won’t abandon us. We will shower that person with attention but will have problematic behaviors.

What to do if you’re someone’s FP

There are a few things you should know if you love and care for the person with BPD:

– Being someone’s FP is not a conscious decision. Basically, is like love. It just happens as a relationship develops (platonic or not).

– You won’t be told you’re someone’s FP. It will be recognized by their actions. It’s something you will learn in due time

– You will be a source of validation, approval, and advice. Someone with BPD has trouble with regulating emotions and having healthy relationships so they will turn to you for help. There will be many calls and messages, that person will ask for help in many different situations.

– Be aware of jealousy. People with BPD feel in a different way. They feel completely and utterly. So if an FP spends some time with other people or ignores messages, the other person might start devaluating the FP. Some people can become aggressive. In that case, it would be in your best interest of you would stay away from that person. There’s no other way to say it. That type of behavior is unacceptable and you should think of yourself first.

Other people will have a softer approach, sending messages when you fail to respond, asking for compliments or reassurance. If you are mad at them, etc. To be honest, it can get annoying and you’ll have to be patient. I find that when people love and support individuals with BPD, it gets easier. What you can do to manage this is to tell the person when you will be unavailable or will be having time by yourself. Communication is key in every relationship and it is crucial in this one.

– Lastly, don’t forget to put yourself first. You also have needs and, if they aren’t met, you might need help too; so take care of yourself. Define boundaries and be honest about what you want and don’t want to do. Again, communication is key.

My current experience with FPs

To be quite honest, I don’t think I have a favorite person now but I believe I did in the past. There’s really no one who can “make or break” my day. I live in a world of my own and it’s not hard to get away from problems the people I love the most cause me. I’ve been able to distance myself, almost detach from people. I only miss two people in my life. They are my sources of support and love. The thing is, something someone does can affect my day in the sense that they hurt me. It doesn’t have to be a person who is close to me. Acquaintances can hurt me. I don’t like to feel mocked. Thoughts about those occasions can affect my day but not entirely. I have this habit of pointing out that I have new clothes or new jewelry so I can be validated for my look. I do that to the people I love and are closest to me.

I cut so many people off over the years, that I ended up with some loyal people. Cutting people off doesn’t come as easy now, as I don’t have black and white thinking anymore. I don’t idolize and devaluate people anymore. They are flawed and complex, there are many sides to every person.

My past experiences with FPs

In the past, I had favorite people. It was usually a boyfriend or a close friend. Some people could ruin my day or make me feel over the moon. I had love-hate relationships, that could be tempestuous and unstable.

I remember going out every day with friends or a boyfriend. Then, all of a sudden, it would change. The person gaslighted me or started to ignore me. I would cut ties with that person and turn to someone else. There would abandonment feelings but I devaluated that person so much that I couldn’t have them in my life anymore. No idea of how many people I’ve known and loved. But I have loved intensely.

I could be aggressive, but only verbally. Hitting people is not a thing that I do but I could make a scene. Which wasn’t something I was particularly fond of doing but sometimes it wasn’t possible to contain it. All those feelings and emotions can take a toll on your judgment. They can be overwhelming.

In the end, having an FP and being an FP is complex and intense but it can be a wonderful experience. Your love or friendship with someone, how strongly you feel about them and how you see the potential of growth in them. If you feel you can be progressively better for someone or if you can be a source of healing.

Remember, growth is your goal. It is possible to heal and overcome the obstacles you face now. Just keep going and make the best decisions you can for yourself.

Do you have a favorite person? How do you deal with it?

Images are courtesy of Pixabay.

Good reasons to go outside

As you all know by now because I’ve written extensively about this, I struggle to go outside. I can’t be the only one dealing with this, so this post is for those of us who want to go out more but lack the motivation to do it.

First of all, it improves mental health. If coupled with exercise, as walking for 30 minutes, it’s even better. Walks in nature are even more beneficial, as it decreases anxiety and improves your mood. It also increases self-esteem.

Going outside diminishes the risk of an early death, as it is a way to combat sedentary life. Again, if it is to take place in nature, it’s even better. The quality of the air you’re breathing is better, you feel more connected and calm. It helps you recover to concentration and stress fatigue, as well as encouraging physical activity.

I found that indoor air pollution is bigger that outdoor air pollution. It seems strange but it’s true. We are exposed to more carbon dioxide and chemicals from cooking and fireplaces, as well as chemicals from building materials, furnishings, household product and more emit matter into the air. Also dust, mold, pet dander, etc. Increasing ventilation can help but it’s best to spend more time outside.

Being outdoors also helps one sleep. Sleep has a lot to do with hormones like melatonin and your circadian rhythm. Both of these are affected by exposure to light. By spending too much time indoors, we are away from the source of our body’s natural rhythms and that affects our sleep.

Going outside is also the best way to get vitamin D. Most people have a vitamin D deficiency and that is not beneficial at all, as that particular vitamin is a way to prevent diseases like cancer, for example. For your daily healthy dose of vitamin D, we should be exposed to sunlight for 15 minutes, preferably in the morning.

It increases energy levels because of sunlight exposure and physical exercise. 90% of people who go out daily and walk, have increased energy levels. (So that’s why I am always depleted of energy).

Going outside also raises our serotonin levels, so it contributes to our happiness and well-being.

These are the main reasons to go outside. Social interaction is also a good reason to go out.

We are all more or less afraid to get sick, so going outside is a good preventive measure. Keep these reasons in mind, as I will, too.

Let’s get healthy!

Do you struggle with going outside? How often do you go?

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

How to gain control over our thoughts

22555210_2014000948883932_806046583473747379_n

I know this concept is not easy when you are depressed or when you have BPD. Thoughts torment us and we believe in them. Things definitely change when you understand that you are not your thoughts, you are much more. If you are suicidal, it’s not you, it’s the condition. I once kept myself from jumping out my window ( I live in an upper floor, high enough to be deadly). I sang songs and cried but I didn’t do it. I told myself: “this isn’t you. This is the condition. Don’t give up”.

As you grower older, you learn to know yourself better and the condition. You know your symptoms and you know when you are not okay. When you are younger, it’s good to learn how to challenge your thoughts. You can do that with a therapist or on your own with the Wysa app. This app is based on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). Like the app will tell you, challenging a thought is like doing a mental push-up. Your false thoughts will decrease. Every time you have a really bad and unpleasant thought, use the app. I have used it and weeks later I wasn’t using it nearly as much.

It’s also important to notice that many things have improved worldwide in the last 100 years. This article is very eye-opening. If you watch the news, you might think that everything is going wrong everywhere, when that is not true. Focus on the good and definitely stop watching the news. They are beyond upsetting if you are as sensitive as I am. Also, if you use Facebook, you can unfollow certain people or pages that may post upsetting articles or pictures.

As I talked about here leaving Facebook was a very important part of keeping myself sane and balanced. Social media can be so toxic, it’s just a toxic time waster.

Mindfulness meditation can help very much, too. Escaping to a different realm of feelings rather thoughts. Noticing.<being mindfully aware of yourself and your surroundings. You can try a full body scan guided meditation. It’s 30 minutes long so I also suggest this shorter meditation (10 minutes). There are many guided meditations on Youtube (if you are a beginner) I suggest an app for meditation that I have talked about before but maybe you didn’t read it. Insight Timer is a great app for everyone that practices meditation.

Sometimes when we are feeling terrible, it’s good to vent. Talk to a trusted friend, relative or significant other. If you can’t reach anyone, just log in to 7cups.com or download the7cups orread more about it. Basically, there are volunteers that will talk to you and help you cope with whatever happened to you. Expressing your feelings helps you understand what you are feeling.

Expressing yourself is a great coping mechanism. Whether you draw, write or express yourself in a different way, it’s good to keep busy doing a positive activity. Writing a journal, for example. Or a blog about your journey. Anything that helps you heal in some way.

What do you do to cope with bad feelings and thoughts?

Image by GDJ, courtesy of Pixabay.