Let’s talk about social media pressure. The pressure to try harder and be smarter. The pressure to do more. The pressure to BE more than you are right now… Sitting here, reading this post.
(News flash: you do not need to be any more than you are right this second!)
You probably came across this post through SOME form of social media. Maybe it was an Instagram link, my moreplease Monday email, or even Pinterest (okay – technically Pinterest is a search engine but you catch my drift here).
Maybe someone you know sent it your way because they thought it would be helpful for you to read. But no matter HOW you got here, I’d be willing to bet that social media had something to do with it.
My point? Social media is a huge player in the way we interact with the world, with others and ultimately with ourselves. And, social media can send us a million and twelve messages about how we “should” be acting, feeling, coping or behaving.
The way you engage with social media impacts the amount of PRESSURE you feel. The cool thing? You have DIRECT control over much of what you expose yourself to.
Social Media during Isolation
When something BIG shifts in the world, social media tends to reflect that change quickly, acutely and intensely.
I don’t know about you but when I scroll through my Insta feed, a solid chunk of what I see is about COVID-19. I mean, I’m doing it right now – this post is about and “inspired” by the coronavirus outbreak and the #stayhome movement it sparked.
When we’re staying at home, we’re much more likely to be on our phones, scrolling through media looking for answers about what to do and how we should behave. And, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with this. It is amazing that so many people are speaking out and sharing advice and inspiration. And it is okay, and even encouraged, to turn to others for support right now.
The thing is, with SO many messages about the “correct” thing to do, it is common to feel like you’re falling behind or doing this whole isolation “wrong”.
In your efforts to “do it right” it is really easy to drown out the whisper of your unique needs with the roar of what others are telling you is “best” right now.
What to Look Out For
There are a few major places you may be seeing messages about what to get up to during isolation. There are also some myths that are easy to believe and truths I need you to know…
The myth: You need to be CRUSHING at-home workouts like it’s nobody’s business.
The truth: Some days it may be a win to get outside and walk for 30 minutes and that is totally fine. Training expectations may need to shift and higher stress can definitely add up. Sometimes keepin’ it simple and low key is “healthier” than pushing your body to its physical limits.
The myth: You should be stocking up on wine and tequila and drinking like there is no tomorrow.
The truth: With thousands of funny alcohol memes and posts going around, it is so easy to get caught up thinking that it is the norm and forget that instances of drug and alcohol abuse often increase during times of stress.
If a wine night with your girlfriends over Zoom is something that truly brings you joy, GET AFTER IT. But if alcohol (and tomorrow’s hangover) bring your mood down, tanks your self-esteem and makes it tough for you to feel like yourself, it could be worth skipping.
House Projects, DIY & Cleaning
The myth: You should be using your “extra time” to get all of the spring cleaning around your house done. Paint that room? Scrub your baseboards? Build that pallet wood coffee table? All the above? Oh yeah, you also don’t have to reorganize your closet, dust your bookshelves or rearrange your living room.
The truth: First off, you may not HAVE extra time. If you’re still working you’re likely more stressed right about now. And, if you do have “extra time”, you don’t have to use to be “productive” around the house. Sometimes the most “productive” thing you can do is breathe. RESTING is productive.
Cooking and Nutrition
The myth: Now is a great time to try new recipes or really buckle down and be “perfect” with your nutrition.
The truth: There is an air of food scarcity going around right now which adds more stress and pressure to all food decisions. Plus, it also means you may not be able to get your hands on fancy recipe ingredients. Getting creative in the kitchen with what you have is definitely a fun way to spend time if it brings you joy. And, if you need to keep things SUPER simple right now, there is nothing wrong with that.
The myth: If you’re not connecting with someone on Zoom at least 12x a day, playing virtual games with friends or downloading the newest communication phone app, you’re not being social enough.
The truth: If you’re an extrovert, those things may keep you happy and sane right now. They may recharge your joy battery and if that is you, listen to your gut.
But, if you’re an introvert (or like…51% extrovert and 49% introvert like me) you likely need to keep some “alone time” sacred and the pressure of “having” to connect is unnecessary. We know that human interaction is extremely important to our mental (and physical) health. But, over-socialization can be just as detrimental if it is robbing you of the time you need to take care of yourself.
Other Forms of Media
Outside of social media, your overall media consumption (think newspapers, online articles, and TV programs) can definitely come into play when we’re talking about stress and pressure.
Media exposure is something you have control over. You can turn on and off the news, you decide if you sit down to read the paper or an online article. You can even have conversations with the people in your life about when, where and how often you want to talk about what is going on or “how you’re doing/feeling”.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and dragged down constantly checking the stats and most recent COVID-19 updates… STOP DOING IT.
Staying informed is IMPORTANT but dragging yourself back to something that brings you down over and over (and over and over) again through the day doesn’t change anything except YOUR mood and subsequent behaviors and choices.
Set a time limit. Try checking the news for a few minutes in the morning (instead of jacking up stress right before bed) and stick to reputable sources like CDC. NPR and your local news can be helpful for the less scientific information that is also relevant to your everyday life.
- There are times when you may need to think twice before hitting unfollow. Here are six questions that you may find particularly helpful.
AND, there are definitely times when “unfollow” is the way to go. If there are accounts that are making you feel like you’re not doing enough, get that out of your social media environment. Ain’t nobody got time for that and you could be spending that mental time and energy doing something that makes you feel good, strong and confident in YOUR version of “enough”.
- If you’re finding that MEDIA, in general, is feeling overwhelming set some limitations. Ask yourself…
What sources are you going to use and trust?
How many times makes sense for you to tune in each day?
What TIME of day will you be able to bring a calm mind and heart to what you learn?