Over and out

Break­ing the so­cial me­dia habit

Good Health Choices - - Contents -

Q How do you feel so­cial me­dia is im­pact­ing self-es­teem and body im­age? A I’ve worked with peo­ple with eat­ing dis­or­ders and no­ticed that it can be a big prob­lem with peo­ple who are heavy so­cial me­dia users, es­pe­cially In­sta­gram. Of­ten peo­ple wind up try­ing to be some­thing that they’re not and fol­low a lot of the guide­lines that other peo­ple are putting out about the ways to eat and the way to ex­er­cise. That’s prob­a­bly one big thing that’s caus­ing a lot of stress for the younger age group; it’s sort of kick­ing in around age 14 as that’s where so­cial me­dia ad­dic­tion comes in as well. These kids are on their

phones all the time, fol­low­ing cer­tain peo­ple and what they’ve got go­ing on in their lives.

I think one other thing with heavy so­cial me­dia users is they can of­ten be quite iso­lated in real life. Be­ing on so­cial me­dia makes them feel con­nected to dif­fer­ent friend groups even though they’re ac­tu­ally very iso­lated. The iso­la­tion can then lead to de­pres­sion and also so­cial anx­i­ety, so that when you are in so­cial sit­u­a­tions you’re not con­fi­dent be­cause you’re used to just look­ing at other peo­ple’s lives on­line. One thing I also ex­pe­ri­ence in the [natur­o­pathic] clinic is peo­ple try­ing to mimic an­other per­son from so­cial me­dia. And I think that’s where get­ting off so­cial me­dia or creat­ing bound­aries with it is re­ally im­por­tant. It al­lows peo­ple to con­nect to their own life and not just be a fol­lower of some­one else’s. Q How do you think yoga, med­i­ta­tion and mind­ful­ness can com­bat this? A Yoga and med­i­ta­tion can re­ally al­low peo­ple to con­nect to their own self rather than con­nect­ing out­wards and com­par­ing them­selves to oth­ers. Med­i­ta­tion in par­tic­u­lar [works], be­cause you’re go­ing in and clos­ing your eyes and hav­ing to con­front things. It pulls you away – even if it is only for half an hour – from the phone and gives you a break. And for some peo­ple that’s ac­tu­ally re­ally hard. I some­times see peo­ple pop­ping out [of class] to look at their phone to see what’s go­ing on. It’s that fear of miss­ing out – that some­body might post and they’ll miss it be­cause they’re in yoga. That’s where I usu­ally give guide­lines around not us­ing In­sta­gram and Face­book be­fore bed and first thing in the morn­ing and try­ing to break some of those ad­dic­tive habits. There are re­ally good med­i­ta­tions to help with ad­dic­tion and re­bal­anc­ing the brain, be­cause so­cial me­dia re­ally can be­come an ad­dic­tion. If some­one’s al­ready an ad­dic­tive per­son­al­ity, then that makes it even worse, and that’s where you’ll start to see a ma­jor prob­lem with overus­ing In­sta­gram and Face­book and when it starts to af­fect body im­age. Q You men­tioned that there are some re­ally good med­i­ta­tion ex­er­cises. Are there any you’d rec­om­mend? A With any sort of yoga, it’s find­ing some­thing you like to do in what­ever style that is. I per­son­ally like to use kun­dalini yoga and med­i­ta­tions be­cause it’s a pow­er­ful prac­tice to re­bal­ance the mind, and that’s where you need to make the most changes. With a class like a vinyasa or yoga that’s in a gym, you won’t get that same ef­fect be­cause you’re look­ing around the room. You also need some fo­cus points, rather than just sit­ting and breath­ing; that’s gen­er­ally not enough. You need, for ex­am­ple, some in­ter­nal af­fir­ma­tions or mantras. Q Do you have any other tips out­side of yoga and med­i­ta­tion for cul­ti­vat­ing a bet­ter self-es­teem? A Re­ally look­ing at what you’re eat­ing and not mak­ing it a ‘diet’ is quite im­por­tant. Many women jump from one diet to the next, what­ever’s pop­u­lar – from raw food eat­ing to high-pro­tein/ low-car­bo­hy­drate. I think the key thing is just to get more nutri­ents and eat wholefoods and then you won’t get so anx­ious and stressed about what you’re eat­ing. Then, as I’ve said, creat­ing lim­its around us­ing so­cial me­dia. One of the most com­mon things, es­pe­cially in teenagers and those in their 20s, is look­ing at Face­book or In­sta­gram in the morn­ing and last thing at night, so one good ap­proach is just to limit your use – only go on there once in the morn­ing and once in the mid-af­ter­noon. Fi­nally, keep­ing a healthy bal­ance of so­cial con­nec­tion in the out­side world, not just on­line, and re­mem­ber­ing that most of the time, peo­ple are only post­ing the best parts of their life. Talk­ing to your own fam­ily and friends can also be re­ally help­ful in build­ing body im­age.

‘So­cial me­dia makes them feel con­nected even though they’re very, very iso­lated’

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