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AWARE Ink Newsletter

Support mental wellness with mindful scrolling

Social media is here to stay. It’s a great tool that provides access and a wealth of information for almost anything you may need to know.

It helps family and friends stay connected across the world; provides opportunities for networking; raises awareness; offers an outlet for creativity and self-expression; and much more!


Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that we’ve ever lived without social media. On the other hand, social media has also been shown to trigger stress.


For example, people using social media have the tendency to compare and look for approval through their posts, or there’s fear of missing out on activities (also known as FOMO). These triggers are found to be especially true for teens/tweens; however, adults also admit to experiencing anxiety related to the stress of social media (1).


Social media has been found to generate a wide range of emotional feelings, such as of joy and laughter as well as resentment, grief, sadness and jealousy. The more negative feelings can activate the fight-flight response, leaving people in a chronic state that affects mental wellness.


To help detect thoughts and feelings, you can practice mindfulness while scrolling through your social media feeds. When you’re paying attention, your thoughts and feelings will help inform both your positive and negative experiences.

Try this exercise from mindful.org to help you practice (2):


1. Before you log on to your favorite social media site, make sure you are in a comfortable position that allows you to be aware with your physical and emotional states. Take in a few breaths to help your mind and body relax.

2. Next take a moment to determine why you’re logging on to social media. Are you looking connect with people or distract yourself? What do you want to see? How are you going to respond to posts?

3. Is your intention already giving you hints about your physical and emotional states? Focus on these sensations for a few moments.

4. Next open your phone or computer. Close your eyes, relax and take a few more breaths.

5. Open your eyes, click on the social media icon and notice the first post that pops up in your feed.

6. Notice physical sensations or emotions you are experiencing from that post – are they positive or negative. Do you want to respond? Do you want to continue scrolling?

7. Take a few more breaths and allow the sensations to move through you before moving to the next update.

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 as you mindfully practice scrolling through social media.


Remember, social media is meant to be a fun, helpful and informative tool. If you find that it is causing you stress, it’s ok to log off. Instead, try another activity like going outside for a walk or cooking healthy food.


Before long, you’ll be able to mindfully pick up where you left off.


References


1. Wolfers, L. N., & Utz, S. (2022). Social media use, stress, and coping. Current Opinion in Psychology, 101305.


2. Willard, C. (May 2023). Before you scroll, try this mindful social media practice. https://www.mindful.org/before-you-scroll-try-this-social-media-practice/

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