Anxiety is on the rise, and overuse of social media is one of the culprits behind it.
As social media experts, we feel it is our responsibility not only to share the best tips and tricks to ensure influencer success but also to shed light on the risks that can come with content creation.
Your mental health is one of the most important things you can protect. So today, we want to talk about the link between anxiety and social media, as well as a deep breathing technique that can help you through it.
Anxiety from Social Media
Oxford Dictionary defines anxiety as "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome." Anxiety is a normal human response. It can even be healthy in the right context and in small amounts.
We have all experienced anxiety to some extent. Whether over an upcoming test, applying to your dream job, or confronting someone you care about, it is normal to feel anxiety when the outcome is unknown. What turns into a problem is when anxiety takes over and is present all the time, not only when warranted.
Anxiety rates have gone up since social media use has become more prevalent. This rise is partially due to the addictive nature of social media apps and the constant comparison, FOMO, cyberbullying, and self-absorption that can come along with them.
Additionally, social media (and technology in general) majorly stimulates your brain. Constant stimulation can easily overwhelm the brain. A common symptom of an overly stimulated brain is… drum roll, please…. Higher rates of anxiety.
What is the solution?
So do we recommend you delete your social media altogether? Absolutely not.
We understand the value and importance of social media in today's world. Social media holds incredible opportunities for people willing to work for them. We highly encourage content creators to take full advantage of each platform, and we work daily to help them reach their goals. We also believe knowledge is power, and it is essential to understand the risks that come along with social media to protect oneself from its side effects.
Thankfully, there are many ways content creators can guard their mental health while still crushing their goals online. We want to go over one popular form of anxiety management that can help you keep anxiety at bay.
Deep breathing to fight anxiety
Deep breathing is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It's the practice of intentional and focused deep breaths. It sounds suspiciously simple, we know, but it is legit. Here's why.
When we are anxious, our sympathetic nervous system takes over. Physical responses of our sympathetic system include rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and quick, shallow breaths. You may have heard of this response referred to as "fight-or-flight."
Shallow breathing means your body lacks the oxygen it needs to thrive under the moment's pressure. This, in turn, doesn't allow you to calm yourself down to get through the anxiety attack. This can result in worsening or constant anxiety.
To combat this, we want to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which controls our relax-and-reset response after a stressful situation. Deep breathing is a way we can "kickstart" the parasympathetic response.
A great way to become aware of your breath is to sit comfortably and focus all your attention on your abdomen. If you notice your chest is the only thing rising and falling when you breathe in and out, you're not expanding your lungs to full capacity, which means your sympathetic system is in charge. Not good.
To fix this, place a hand just above your belly button and breathe in and out. To take proper deep breaths, you want your belly to rise and fall along with your breaths.
Practice this. Breathe fully into your belly slowly and with control. If you feel a bit odd at first, don't be alarmed, this means you are getting the proper levels of oxygen that you aren't used to yet.
Continue this deep breathing until it starts to feel more natural. Take note of your mental state. Do you feel more relaxed? Less anxious? If so, great!! Your parasympathetic system is starting to take over.
Once the general "form" is down, you can also experiment with breathing rhythms. A popular one is the "square breathing" technique. The pattern is:
Breathe in for four counts,
Hold for four counts,
Breathe out for four counts,
Hold for four counts.
Another popular one is the 4-7-8 method. For this one, you:
Breathe in for four counts,
Hold for seven counts.,
Breathe out for eight counts
Any breathing pattern that feels best for you is great. There's a bunch out there, so you can take the time to experiment.
Things can feel pretty bleak if you struggle with anxiety, especially if you are an avid social media user. But you can find balance! We hope this article helped you realize that you can control anxiety without eliminating social media use altogether.
There are many theories and practices to help control anxiety, but deep breathing is one of the most simple, easy-to-begin options. And as a bonus, you can literally do it anywhere.
Take a break the next time you feel overwhelmed from scrolling, commenting, or creating. Give yourself a chance to breathe fully and deeply. Focus on your belly rising and falling. Activate your parasympathetic nervous system and see how you feel.
Your mind is so much stronger than you think! With intentional practice, you can learn the proper tools to keep your anxiety at bay, all while becoming the influencer of your dreams!