From watching endless cute cat videos to fun Internet challenges, social media has been one of the few things that have helped many bear the year-long lockdown (and counting!).
However, at the same time, many studies have also reported an increase in mental health issues caused by doom scrolling during this period. Indie devotional music sensation and a spiritual urban yogi, Shivali Bhammer, agrees.[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/CK2ycaJn2Oc/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading[/instagram]
"Social media traps us into an illusory world where we are constantly measuring every facet of our lives against others (even subconsciously). We are also attached to superficial popularity such as likes and comments, which frankly, should have no bearing on our life. Social media also projects an insincere world where everyone is a superstar surrounded by wealth, happy relationships and glamorous lifestyles – which is a lie. The more we feed into it, the more we are trapped in this cycle of delusion which affects our mental health and our daily habits. If anyone is a fan of Black Mirror on Netflix, it sums up our frightening future very well, if we are to continue this sickening social relationship," she says.
Not only FOMO but watching an endless loop of bad news on social media channels can also take a toll on your mental health. Shilvali shares how you can break the cycle of negativity:
Do not check your phone as soon as you wake up!
"When you wake up in the morning do not open social media apps until after you have showered. Unless your work involves social media, you do not need to be scrolling through a newsfeed that fills your mind with noise before the day has even begun. The way you start a day dictates how the rest of your day will progress and develop, therefore we need to give it the best chance of success! This means, a fresh mindful morning filled with lots of ‘you’ time instead of ‘world’ time."
Do not invest your emotions in social media posts
"Do not dissect posts. Treat them like you would as if flipping a magazine at a Dentists, it's light stimulation but you have better things to do. If you become overly engrossed in Miss X and Mr T’s daily rambles, the mind will begin to form impressions based on the information it is receiving. This information often makes us feel unhappy (although it might be very subtle). Remember the old rules of living- Don’t be nosy, it’s none of your business."
"Remember that posting a picture is just that, it is posting a picture, it is a small curated snapshot of a second in time – not a reflection of the true story. Don’t create a backstory for the picture you’ve seen that makes you feel inadequate, unworthy or less than."
Beware of chasing likes
"Be careful of what you post and how often. Unless it is part of your work and you’re forced to (like I am as an artist), be wary of becoming addicted to likes and artificial admiration. The likes received from posting will stimulate the brain to release dopamine which can cause addiction, just like any other short term high. Social media is a drug, we may not see its effects on our body, but it is rewiring the mind to convince you that you need to post to be happy! This is when you chant to yourself- happiness comes from within! If it came from social media, it would last longer."
Short and frequent social media detox
"Take social media breaks or set a timer for when your apps become inaccessible. It is important to take control back so that you can spend your life truly living rather than beholden to technological pretence. Don’t fritter your time away on the meaningless, it’ll drain you of vital prana! All we have is the now, embrace it fully, in the beauty of your existence."