Social media and online forums

Social media has changed the way we communicate our thoughts and emotions allowing us to express them to a wider audience especially in forums where you meet fellow sufferers of chronic UTI and for many it has allowed them to finally be able to talk openly about what they are struggling with, seek support and be part of a community.

However, if you are struggling with anxiety and depression, please consider your usage of social media and how it affects you. There are conflicting studies concerning the benefit of time spent in social media online groups. For some it has benefitted, for others it has had a negative impact particularly if their own usage for posting is often negative. The following issues have been noted in research studies of patients with anxiety and their usage of social media:

  • Spending more than one hour daily at social media sites
  • Checking Facebook whenever possible
  • Over-sharing and reporting of all aspects of life however mundane
  • Hearing from friends and family that too much time is spent on the social networking sites
  • Interference with work, higher education performance or offline social life
  • Overreliance on social media to fulfil social needs
  • Withdrawal symptoms if attempting to cut down on the time spent on social media
  • Escapism. If time is used on the social media to avoid conflicts or problems that are occurring in real life. Users have acknowledged this because when ‘down’, they turn to Facebook or another social media site to feel better
  • Losing sleep to go on Facebook or other sites

To help, these social media management tips may be of use:

  • Track your time online – The simplest way to ensure you aren’t spending too much time in any one place is to monitor it. Use a stopwatch and set a limit. When time is up, log out, regardless of what’s left. There is always tomorrow.
  • Remember the telephone – a call to a friend works just as well as a Facebook message, and it is real human interaction, something we are losing touch with.
  • Go outside – get away from your access to the network. Get some sunshine, chances are you need it.
  • Prioritize – Use these tools only when your work has been done, or during down time.
  • A social media fast – The answer to your emotional health issues is not always provided by social media. One of the best things you can do is take a break from social media altogether. Social media fasts have been found to have many benefits, including improved sleep, better self-control, and increased time for real-life interactions with friends and family. Notably, each of these benefits can also reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • Remove apps – You don’t really need Facebook on your phone. Nothing on there can be that important. Limit the distractions throughout the day.
  • Spend more time with close friends and family – You aren’t the only one who suffers when you spend countless hours on social media. Your family and friends don’t see you.

Please always seek professional counselling. You shouldn’t wait to get the help you need. None of this necessarily means that you need to quit social media forever. But it’s well worth considering which steps you might need to take to improve your usage of online media.

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