July: Swapping Social Media for Online Therapy
A big thing I've been trying to work on this year is my relationship with social media. I truly believe apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat can be tools used for positivity and good, but so often this is not the case. Just like so many people, I get sucked into comparing my life to others', self-judgement, and mindless scrolling as a means of escaping the present. I want to find real ways of working on this so I can use social media as a means of real, honest connection with others and developing a more positive relationship with myself, in a more structured, less time-consuming way.
In the past I've tried apps that monitor how much I'm on my phone, designating times to check social media, turning off my data for social media apps, etc. The only thing I've found so far that has actually worked to change my habits in a sustainable way is to stop using social media entirely.
So for this month of my Happiness Project, I decided to take some time away from all social media. I wanted to focus on myself in the moments I might normally turn to my phone for instant comfort or distraction. I wanted to find within myself whatever it is that I am staring into the screen in search of. I figured if I took the month to explore myself and why I might be overly attached to these things, I could come up with healthier ways of using social media.
In the midst of deleting all of my social media apps, I downloaded a new one. An online therapy app called Talk Space.
Being in between jobs, health care and money have both become fairly tricky for me. I actually have better health care in Spain than I have ever had in the states. However, at this point making sure I am healthy physically and mentally are priorities I am willing to sacrifice for. I don't think it is for everyone, but online therapy has provided me with a much needed outlet that fits my transitional lifestyle very well at this time. I do prefer talk therapy, just as I prefer talking to friends in person rather than over Skype, but I would recommend Talk Space for anyone who is having difficulty figuring out a therapy plan for whatever reason.
Swapping social media for online therapy has helped me turn my phone into more of a catalyst for positive change. I try to take breaks to meditate or breathe or write where I may have normally checked social media. My therapist has helped me dig deeper into myself to work on taking better care of myself. We have even discussed why a positive relationship with social media might be more of a challenge for someone like me. July has been all about discovering and learning more about the parts of myself that still confuse me, and removing social media has allowed me more time to dig deeper into those sides of myself.
Maintaining my mental health and a good relationship with myself are incredibly challenging lifelong endeavors that will certainly take many forms over the course of my life. This is just one way I've gone about working on loving myself better. As July comes to an end, I do plan on downloading Instagram and Facebook again, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared that I'll start using them as excessively as I have in the past. All I can do though, is enter August taking it easy on myself, and taking what I've learned about myself in this time to establish healthy habits. Ideally I'll keep my breathing and meditation breaks and only check social media 1-2 times daily. I think the key is keeping an open mind and not being too hard on myself. It's really hard to cultivate a positive relationship with things that can bring out a lot of negativity!
How is your relationship with social media? Do you have any experience with online therapy? I would love to hear about either one of these things. I'll take any help I can get as I navigate re-entering the social media world!