Picture this, you’ve had the day from hell. Your alarm didn’t go off and you overslept. You were late for a meeting and your boss wasn’t impressed. You got a parking ticket at lunchtime and a call from your partner in the afternoon. He loves you but wants to take some ‘time out’ from the relationship to go trekking in Indonesia. Putting your relationship issues aside, you focus on work and realise you’ve missed a deadline and the boss wants to see you next morning. As you get through the door that night, the cats been sick on the carpet and the washing machines leaked all over the bathroom. You switch on your ipad to an excited post from your boyfriend announcing his trip to the world. You’re furious and post an angry message telling everyone how selfish he is, that he picks his toenails, never washes his socks and is crap in bed…
In an instant you’ve shared the days frustration, anger, jealousy and pain with ALL your friends, family, work colleagues and a few randoms you don’t know. As you start to calm down you realise what you’ve done
This might sound like an extreme example (or not!) but it’s scarily easy to do. Using social media to feel better, not worse, comes up a lot when I’m working with clients. As today is “Safer Internet Day”, which is usually aimed at children and young people, the fact that 39 million of us in the UK use social media* (over half our population!) makes it worth thinking about whatever our age.
You might have heard people talking about online addiction and may have experienced it yourself. And you’ve definitely seen how interaction on social media can go badly wrong. But you also know it can be a great thing that brings us together wherever we are, sharing inspiration and ideas or just how we’re feeling. When we use it with a little care and attention it can make us feel great. I want to share with you four simple strategies to help you make the most of the good stuff and avoid the pitfalls where you can…
1) Choose Your Friends Carefully
Who are you following and who’s posts do you read? How does it feel? Are you uplifted, motivated, connected and happy? Or do you notice envy, anger, despair or feel negative and drained?
I’m not saying you should defriend your mum or unfollow all of your friends. It’s not about avoiding difficult feelings but making sure you mix it up a bit. There are loads of interesting, thought-provoking and joy-making stuff out there. Make sure you’re getting your share of the good stuff.
2) Take a Break
Even when you’re surfing fun stuff you can still feel frazzled and drained if you spend too much time plugged in. This varies from person to person – my partner will be on Facebook quite happily all night. But if I spend too long on there I need a lie down!
It might be that you need a longer break if there’s something else you need to focus on or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Give yourself what you need and come off it for a week or two. If the thought of that scares you, think about why this is and how you can get what you need from other places.
3) Beware the Over-share
Like our earlier example, this can make you feel worse. Either through regretting it later, the comments you get back or the relationships you have to rebuild.
If there’s something you want to say that’s important, posting it when you’re feeling emotional won’t be the best time. This isn’t about censoring yourself it’s about giving yourself time to engage your mind and that can be hard to do if you’re in an emotional place. Don’t lose the message by the way you express it. Calm down first, process your emotions and then speak up.
4) Learn to Comment
There’s a really interesting article on The Book of Life website called ‘How to Comment Online’ (see the link below). This talks about how we struggle to get this right and can also be helpful if you’ve experienced trolling. If someone’s posted something you really disagree with or it provokes strong negative emotions, again, give yourself time to process your feelings before you respond. It’ll still be there tomorrow. How you’re feeling today and what you’re needing now IS more important.
I hope that got you thinking and if you use any of these strategies let me know how they go – you can contact me through the contact page on this website. And if anyone you know could benefit from this, please share it. If you need any help with the issues raised here, get in touch.
- Statista – The Statistics Portal statista.com