Many people who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions also struggle with social anxiety. Making the waves of social media “Like’s,” “hearts” and notification challenging for an addict to surf. A big question our world has been asking over the past few years is if social media is a helpful or harmful ocean. The answers vary, but for those with addictive tendencies it seems to be a little bit of both.
A study at Rutgers University in New Jersey and the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. found that women who frequently use social media, emailing and texting to connect with friends and family report feeling less stressed than women who connect less often. Now when it comes to studies you have to read between the lines. This doesn’t necessarily mean that using social media is going to make every woman feel less stressed. What it is saying is that woman who practice reaching out for support and use different tools to do so, feel less stressed. So one way social media may make your life less stressful is:
- Posting a question on Facebook for suggestions for a healthy restaurant in the area.
- Texting a friend to vent about a frustrating doctor’s visit.
- Sharing a funny video via email with a family member out of state.
Then there is the other side where research shows that social media is harmful. This is where people report
- F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) on parties, travel and events they see online
- Comparing oneself to another persons physicality, family unit and career accomplishment.
- Envy of another persons life and jealousy of their experiences.
The thing to keep in mind is that all of the above positives and negatives also come with in person human interactions. The question we ask our clients in any scenario is , “What is right for YOU? What is going to keep YOU sober, healthy and happy?”
“What degree of social media is right for YOU? What is going to keep YOU feeling connected, healthy and happy?”
If you are someone who feels that social media makes you more anxious then try doing some of these things:
- Limit your activity. Make a point to check your social media accounts once a day for 20 minutes and see if the reduction makes you less anxious.
- Shut-off your social media notifications except for when you are sent direct messages.
- Schedule more face-to-face time with friends and family. As research also shows that in person connection always trumps digital.