You wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is check your social media accounts. You scroll through your feed…there are videos of puppies, someone got engaged, someone had a kid, someone’s kid just made macaroni art, someone got a promotion, someone had a party, someone is really mad at Trump, someone is really upset about the latest episode of The Bachelor. Seems harmless, right? Social media is supposed to connect us to the world, but for some people, particularly those in recovery, social media can be dangerous.
Ways Social Media Can Endanger Your Recovery
Presence of Drugs and Alcohol
As someone in recovery, you know to avoid bars, clubs, and other triggering environments, but how can you avoid temptation when it comes directly to your phone screen? Chances are that not all your friends on social media are sober, and they are likely to post pictures of them drinking or partying on their social media. These images could cause you to start missing your addiction, especially if you are in the early stages of recovery.
Something about social media makes people think that they are experts on every subject imaginable. It is likely that you will be bombarded from all angles about anything and everything going on. While being informed about current events is a good thing, you do not need to hear about every single thing that is wrong with everyone’s lives and the world. The overload of negativity that can be found on social media can lead to anxiety and depression, both of which increase the risk of relapse.
You click on a picture that your high school boyfriend posted with his new fiancée, and before you know it, you are two years deep into her cousin’s best friend’s Facebook account watching videos of her dog barking at his reflection in the mirror. It sounds silly, but social media has a way of making you lose focus and track of time. This can interrupt your sleep schedule and diminish your quality of sleep. Sleep is an important part of recovery and essential to overall health.
It is easy to forget that social media is not real. For example, when it comes to Instagram, people tend to post pictures that show them at their best. These are pictures that have been taken from the right angle, with the best lighting, edited, and filtered. Yet when we see them, all we think is “they’re perfect, their life is perfect.” Comparing yourself to how others portray themselves is not only unrealistic but extremely dangerous to your mental health. It can cause low levels of self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
Tips for Social Media in Recovery
Social media can pose a threat to recovery, but it can also serve as a method of keeping you connected. Support and feeling a sense of belonging is important for long-term sobriety which is why it is important to find ways to use social media, without risking relapse. Below are some simple tips.
Most people check their phones when they wake up, but according to a study by Washington University, checking social media first thing in the morning leads to negativity and can set a negative tone for the rest of your day. Start your day by doing something productive and getting some fresh air. Wait until the afternoon or night to check your social media.
Delete the Past
Cutting ties with people who encourage harmful behavior is part of recovery. Purge your social media accounts from anyone in your past who does not support your recovery.
Limit Your Time Online
Spending too much time indoors is bad for your health. Put the phone down and get some fresh air. Limit your time on social media to one hour a day. And yes, that includes the time you spend on Facebook while you are at work or in the bathroom watching YouTube videos.