Although social media can be a wonderful source for good, excessive reliance on likes, favorites, and follows can wreak havoc on a person who is already prone to anxiety. If you are concerned about the effect your online presence could be having on your real life stress levels, it may be time for a social media cleanse.
The checklist below may be useful in evaluating your relationship with your Internet self—and in determining the changes that would benefit your life. It is important to note that the behaviors and thought patterns listed below, in isolation, do not necessarily indicate a poor relationship with social media. Frequent occurrence of these behaviors from individuals who struggle with anxiety or negative thought patterns, however, could be signs of a deeper-rooted problem.
Check each statement that applies:
o After I post a new photo or update, I am unable to concentrate on other tasks and I frequently check for new likes and comments.
o I have increased self-esteem when I am validated by likes and recognition on social media. Conversely, I feel poorly about myself when I do not receive an adequate number of likes.
o I am constantly checking my social media accounts in fear that I might be missing out on an activity or that I was not invited to a social event.
o I feel nervous and anxious before checking my newsfeeds because I am afraid of seeing inside jokes or of being left out.
o I use social media to keep tabs on ex-significant others and I know things about their lives I would not know if it weren’t for this behavior.
o If someone does not immediately accept my friend/follow request, or if someone chooses not to follow me back, I feel deeply offended.
o My self-worth is largely based on whether or not I receive new likes, comments, friend requests, etc.
o I am losing sleep either by a) spending excessive time on social media late at night or b) being kept awake worrying about how I came across in a post or photo.
o I must be constantly engaged with others on social media, even when I am at social events or spending time with the people I love.
o I feel as though I must constantly present myself in a certain light on my social media accounts and that I must continue to live up to the person I “pretend” to be.
o It means more to me when I receive a compliment digitally than it does when someone validates me in real life.
If you are concerned about the negative role social media is playing in your life, do not hesitate to reach out. It can often initially be difficult to recognize social media-induced anxiety—but the problem is very real and incredibly widespread. With a team of counseling professionals, you can work to fight against the anxiety brought about by social media and reclaim your life one post at a time.