Monday, 8 April 2019

What to do when social media makes you feel ill

Six months ago, if you'd have asked me if social media made me feel ill I would've said a definite no. Is it toxic at times? Highly. Upsetting? Definitely. Irritating? Yep. But not so bad as to make me feel physically sick to the stomach. These past few months, however, my answer would be a definite yes - yes social media has been making me feel ill. On occasions it's left me shaking, crying, in such a bad way that my special birthday week became ruined with sick to the stomach nausea and paranoid dread. The exciting lead up to my holiday was wrecked with self-doubt and upset, I was on the phone to my boyfriend more than once at work because of a bad blip in my mental health due entirely to several things that happened on social media. The last time I'd felt this horrendous was over two years ago.

This chain of events was one of the reasons why I stopped blogging.  
I was too frightened to post anything because of feeling so vulnerable by several things that had got me in such a bad way. All of this stemmed from my supportive nature being taken advantage of by someone I thought I could trust who turned nasty. This taught me a lesson I needed to learn; that I should have listened to my gut feeling earlier, and that I needed to be less trusting online. We don't really know who someone is behind a screen, and often we don't know what their intentions are. After speaking to a few close friends I was heartened yet disappointed to find that they'd found themselves in similar situations too. I wasn't alone. It was comforting but worrying, how badly time online had affected us. How people, practical strangers, had made us feel so paranoid and worried, costing us our health in the process. 

The pettiness of social media seems to have ramped up a notch this past year, with people taking offence to any given thing, stabbings in the back that belong in secondary school, sarcastic subtweets flying back and forth and social media users using their platform to promote harm, instead of good. Bullying, criticism, hate and witch hunts seem to occur on a daily basis. The amount of negativity online is astounding, reaching levels of spite that are unbelievable at best, hateful and disgusting at worst. At one point I was seriously considering deleting my social media handles and just leaving it all, full-stop. If you come offline, the nastiness and negativity all just disappears, a lot of people will be quick to point out. But why should those people win and ruin it for everyone else? Deep down I didn't want to come off social media for good, but I didn't see any other solution when it was affecting me so badly. Just as I was feeling better and had enjoyed a lovely Sunday sitting outside in the garden, I went on Twitter for all of five minutes before someone leapt on something I said, and I started shaking with upset. I didn't want to be shaking over a stupid comment but being a naturally sensitive person who takes everything to heart and also battles with anxiety every single day, I couldn't help it.

The worst thing when someone turns nasty with me on social media, is that I immediately start to worry that others will follow suit. People that I care about, people that I consider life-long friends, people that I enjoy chatting to. I know this is unlikely, but this is the state in which anxiety leads me. Despite being initially upset, I managed to disregard the online exchange as quickly as possible, making sure it didn't ruin any more of my night. Even though this may only be a small victory, it's practically unheard of for me - someone who replays every negative remark and nasty word said in my head for days afterwards. Someone who can't help but hurt when little inconsequential things like this happen.

I recently decided I needed to put my health first and stop letting strangers online ruin my life. Despite Instagram being highly criticised and understandably a platform that a lot of users find can do more harm than good, I always find it a safe and happy place, and it's often Twitter that sees the root of a lot of upset and negativity impacting on my health. I've got some friends for life online, and I talk to many kind hearted, supportive and caring people on Twitter who often make my day with their kind comments and show me so much love and care which I always appreciate and try my hardest to reciprocate. This makes it even more of a shame that a choice few can ruin what would otherwise be a perfect platform. These past few weeks I've realised I need to take some steps to improve my time on social media, to ensure my health comes first. I thought I'd share a few of these in the hope of helping others out there who have been feeling the same. 


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5 ways I've improved my time on social media 

I've stopped scrolling 
Twitter can be like an achievement roll of other people's successes, which is fine. I've posted things I'm proud of on there, and it can be a great platform for sharing and engaging; that's what it's all about! But too often I'd feel deflated from Twitter, in a switch of a second suddenly feeling low and down about my own life, when minutes ago none of this had been concerning me. These past few weeks I've stopped scrolling, especially seeing as the negativity on the app has been harder and harder to bear. Instead I focus on the people who I speak to the most, who bring me the most positivity and light, and who I enjoy connecting with. Making this change has already made a massive difference to my state of mind; already I'm feeling more positive and enlightened about life.

Switching off after posting 
One of my biggest downfalls is immediately assuming a blog post, an Instagram pic or content I've been excited about is going to flop. A dangerous habit of mine would involve constantly checking up on comments, interaction and reactions - optimism draining away by the second as nothing seemed to happen. This would not only make me feel like a failure, it would also lead me down a destructive path of negativity; should I just stop blogging? What's the point? There's no interest, I may as well just give up. It's not healthy, and only now am I making sure it doesn't become a repeat performance, time and time again. Taking time to step away from the content I've just posted is proving a better move for me, and instead of worrying and focusing on the negatives I'm feeling more positive about all the content I'm creating.

Muting, blocking, disengaging 
VITAL. I recently wish I'd hit the block button on several individuals a lot sooner, it would have given me peace of mind and the opportunity to have had a lot less upset. Guilt grounds away at me if I feel the need to mute or block - but our health is the priority here, and recently I've dropped the guilt and realised if those actions need to be taken to ensure my time is healthier online, then that's no.1.

Realising my worth
I've wasted too many precious hours worrying about people online. I spoke about meeting an online friend in this post, and how it all went wrong. It shook me up for a while afterwards - I found myself in a bad way self-esteem wise. The same thing has happened these last few months, just because of some nastiness I started doubting and worrying what everyone thought about me, convinced other people might turn too. Rising above is tough, but I'm constantly reminding myself that so long as I'm happy in my own skin, I haven't got anything to prove to anyone. I'm a kind person who has big dreams, works hard and has a loving partner, mum and dad, friends and this is all that matters.

Enjoying life offline 
Since moving in with my partner I've realised even more what really matters in life. Our time together comes first and if that means lesser time online, so be it. On days off I make sure if I post something I turn my attentions away from my phone and usually don't look again until later in the evening. Messages that I used to pressure myself to answer I put on the back burner, waiting until I have the time and not before. I used to be guilty of checking my phone too much when we were out but now I find I do that less and less. There's no need, and everything else can wait. In the evenings if we're watching TV or having a meal I've got into the habit of leaving my phone upstairs, forgotten and out of my peripheral vision. It's amazing how applying such a small change can make such a big difference. 

Lastly I think it's important to remind ourselves that everyone we interact with online is a real person behind a screen. Making an offish comment, turning on someone, being unkind for no given reason or typing that critical comment could just be a blasé remark to you, but it could cost someone much more. You don't know what state of mind someone could be in, and choosing kindness over cruelty is everything. "If you've got nothing nice to say then don't say anything at all", applies to this ever-increasingly toxic online world in more ways than one. Instead of engaging or giving time to people and scenarios that bring me down, I'm curating my time online solely to share what I need whilst interacting with those that boost me up, not bring me down. Our health comes first over everything, and I'm not going to waste another second of my life being upset by the toxic side of social media. 


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9 comments:

  1. I'm really sorry to hear that someone upset you so much! It's definitely not worth getting involved in toxic behavior or allowing someone to bring you down. I really don't like online drama because it always seems so petty to me, so I suppose the only thing you can do is just walk away and take a break, and only follow/engage with the people you find positive and inspiring! You are totally right, social media definitely isn't the be all and end all, and it's more important to focus on your real life and the things going on in the moment! ♥ I hope that you don't have any more negative encounters like this again! You are so sweet so you definitely deserve better! ♥ xxx

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  2. There are some very nasty keyboard warriors out there, but post like this will help others who experience being treated poorly to deal with this issue in a much better and positive way, keep up the good work lovely Sophie you make a difference everyday!

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  3. I'm so sorry you've had to go through this, but I can 100% relate. When I first joined social media, it was my happy escape from the real world and I enjoyed the process of making online friends and such. But lately, it feels as though everything has switched and I dread having to socialise on social media, as I worry something will go wrong and people will tear me apart. And to be entirely honest, picking up on something you wrote about it seeming like secondary school, the blogging community has seemed so clicky lately and I feel left out most of the time. It's so silly as we're all adults and ought to uplift each other. I'm constantly going through the mental battle of "do I have to be prominent on social media to help my blog be successful?" I hope everything gets better for you soon. You're a beautiful person, inside and out. You deserve better.

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  4. Really proud of you for this honest & interesting post - hopefully it will help others, as well as being a chance to express how you feel about this topical subject. Well done - you go girl! xxxx

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  5. Happy Saturday Sophie! I think we all have seen the ugly side of social media I also have been affected a couple of times. I felt shocked and I thought maybe I misunderstood and check if that once a nice person was really showing a dark side and every single time I do not delay as soon as I realise it is no mistake and it took me no more then 2 minutes to read twice and making sure yes it was for real I do not give them a second chance they are blocked for life. I have decided that on my social media only nice supportive people stay. It is not easy to forget when we get hurt, it can be scary many times not only sad so just block! Never ever allow yourself to deal with these type of people we sensitive people are easy targets because we are kind and nice however vulnerable. Another point here is that people who are beautiful and full of light scare others. Yes, a lot of unhappy and insecure humans do not know how to live side by side with people who are charismatic and kind. It is a threat to others, so their instant reaction is to try to bring you down many times they succeed I have been there too and I decided that NO MORE! I want distance of people who are unhappy and therefore try to make you unhappy by diminishing you. Block, stay away and focus on your goals. Never Ever give up on your dreams because of others. Keep going and keep shining just like your beautiful outfit You are a sunshine so keep shining brighter and the darkness will never stop your light. Happy Saturday gorgeous. xoxo Cris
    http://photosbycris.blogspot.com/2019/04/breakfast-in-bed.html

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  6. By the way Love your sunglasses too So stunning. xoxo Cris

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  7. This post makes me realize how so many times I have not being happy with some type of people when I talk with then online. Thank you so much for share.

    *Please dont publish links on my blog.

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  8. I can understand how you feel Sophie. Spending too much time on social media got to me too. I got so caught up in not being quick enough with getting back to my comments that it became like another job to me, and I actually work nine hours a day, so needless to say I was overwhelmed, but I realized that I needed to work smarter, not harder! Now I have a scheduled time when to post and get back to my comments and it's working so well. I'm feeling a lot better and less overwhelmed by it all. Nasty comments suck too, and I've gotten a few and I just delete them, lol!! I don't even know the people, so I just don't bother with them. I'm glad you found a way to deal with them! It's just not worth the time and energy, we have so many better things to spend our time doing right? Stay creative and positive beautiful!!! You are a wonderful writer, focus on your true loves and everything just gets better.

    xo,
    Tania
    https://inspiremyfancy.com

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  9. Ah I'm so sorry you've been feeling like this. It is honestly amazing how much negativity there can be online, and Twitter is the worst! Sometimes it feels like you daren't say anything on there unless it's about the weather, and even then there's a chance you're going to offend someone! I'm so pleased that you're finding a way to deal with this because you are absolutely right - those negative people shouldn't be allowed to ruin all the good things about the online world for the rest of us! x

    Kate Louise Blogs

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