You hear about people being stressed out all the time. More than ever in history, people are connected, sharing, and comparing themselves. One great thing about social media is the ability to share your cute pet or baby videos. One incredibly detrimental part of social media is that without realizing you are doing it, you start comparing yourself to everyone else’s life. If you are like most people I know, you will think someone else has it better than you for at least one aspect of your life. This leads to people being stressed out.
People are also working in jobs that they ‘take home’ now, which can lead to not being able to separate work and home. This can also be a huge stress point for people, especially ones with families. If you never put your job aside, it can be hard to relax, or to enjoy time with non-work friends. As a teacher I know this stress all too well.
There are a number of things you can do to help decrease the stress in your lives, but the first thing to try is just to get off social media! As a teacher, you can almost tell which 5th grade girls have social media and which ones do not. There is so much subtile judgements that happen, that if you are not careful can really effect your mood. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are the biggest culprits of starting to have negative thoughts about your life. Some of the things I have heard people say, and even thought myself are “why isn’t this getting more likes?”, “Wait, who liked it? Why are they looking at my stuff”, “Am I not cute enough in this picture?”, “How comes so and so got more likes than I did?”. Just taking a break can clear your head.
With all the politics that are going on now too, it can be good to just take a break and only look at actual news sites. I love my family, both immediate and extended, but I have had to unfriend a few of them on facebook because I can not stand to see some of the things they post. Our views are just so different, and if it was one post here, or there, maybe links to news articles, I could look past it. However, they post stuff that is pure judgement of people who don’t agree with them. This is another stress point for many people. You can be good friends with someone across party lines, until you see their facebook. To save real life friendships, just take a break from social media.
As I shared the news that I was pregnant and began really thinking about what we want for our family I thought of an experiment. I don’t want our child to grow up seeing mom and dad always on their phones, and especially always on social media. I am a person who is prone to depression, and while I know the coping skills, the depression is still there. I don’t want social media to trigger a depression point while trying to take care of a baby. I thought why not try for a week to not go on my phone at all for an hour before bed.
So I did it! I did send a few texts right before bed when my husband worked nights, but other than that, I started charging my phone about an hour before I went to bed so I wouldn’t be tempted. I made my lunch for the next day, got my outfit ready, and read for a little before bed. These are all super productive things, that I didn’t do regularly before.
How did I feel? Great! I liked the choices I was making instead of looking at what others were doing. I also gave myself more positive self talk around what we were doing to prepare for our baby. I’m sure it only gets worse from here, but there is so much pressure put on expectant mothers to take the right class, eat the right food, do the right type and amount of exercise. I am constantly wondering if I am doing the right thing! Especially with my husband still doing some training for his work, I feel the extra pressure of making some of these decisions (classes, what to get for our nursery, etc) on my own. I think putting my phone away for that hour before going to sleep helped ease a lot of that pressure.
So now what? I am going to suggest that everyone put their phones down before they go to bed! Or, stop looking at facebook when you are a little down. There are so many more productive things we could be doing with our lives! From this one week I am convinced that while social media is a great way to stay connected, there is nothing more calming for a person’s mental health then an hour of time without constant technological input.