Tag Archives: anxiety

to be or not to be connected (and how much)

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Over the past 20+ years, the internet has become a source replete with information and seemingly everything else one needs, and now even social networking! Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, GooglePlus+, digg, flickr, Pinterest, Foursquare, and countless more social networking sites have banked millions of users in a flash. People are eager to virtually connect.

This acquisition between man and machine has led “Internet Addiction Disorder” to be considered as a new diagnosis in the upcoming revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The point is, people can’t seem to get enough! A 2011 comScore report explained that, “social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide accounting for nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online in October 2011.”

Many studies have revealed a positive correlation between time spent on the internet and levels of depression and anxiety. I have heard many first-hand accounts of the “to be or not to be connected” dilemma. It seems that so much happens through social networking that it is actually extremely difficult for teens (and increasingly, for adults) to not be connected. And once connected, it’s even harder to prevent yourself from falling into the deep abyss that is social networking.

Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, births, deaths, sales, events, gatherings, parties, you name it, it’s out there. Status updates, tweets, Photoshop (yes, people alter their photos) and Instagram allow users to show only their most prideful moments and impress upon their viewers only the life that they want to promote having. People show only what they want others to see. The idea of who they want to be. A true avatar. Of course, at the deep end of the abyss lie phenomena such as exchanging passwords, “Facebook stalking” and bullying.

There is also a valuable side to it all. Social networking has aided in countless reconnections of long lost friendships, can be a source of speedy free flowing, useful information, and can offer a forum in which to broadly share anything in one fell swoop. And let’s face it, it can be fun!

So, if you engage in online social networking, to be or not to be connected is probably less the question than the question of how much feels like the right balance to you. How much time and how many networking outlets allow you to get what you are looking for but not creep over the edge of “too much?”

Some things to keep in mind as you engage online:
Behave responsibly. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back.
There is no privacy guarantee. Anything can be cut and pasted
Be selective. Choose your friends wisely!
Use trusted sources.
Know where your information is coming from.
Don’t believe everything you read. Realize that people share what they choose to share and that many times, this is not the entire story.
Don’t compare. Just as we must be weary about the altered photos we see in magazines, we must be clear that we may be getting the edited versions, photos and stories of the people with whom we connect.
Know your limits. Recognize when you are spending excess amounts of time glowing by the light of your computer screen and know when to back away.
Recognize when social networking changes from fun into depression or anxiety, e.g.: “everyone else is doing… except for me.” “I need to post something to show that I am fun, cool, popular, etc.”

So off you go, perhaps to tweet or to check your Facebook. Whatever you choose to do, make it your intention to keep in mind what you are wanting to get out of these engagements and make sure that you get what you are looking for. If you’re not, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate, scale things back or pull the plug for a while! Or… mix it up and go old school! Turn off your computer and your phone and engage over a coffee or a meal with someone!

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just sit back and let the universe hold you for a while

Trust is a complicated concept for most people. Who can you trust, what can you trust, when can you trust them or it, what happens when your trust is betrayed? What happens when they disappoint you? Disappointment is ubiquitous in relationships but if that shatters one’s trust, then what does that mean for that person’s relationships? How does one have meaningful, open, reciprocal relationships if their trust is lost vis a vis disappointment, which is inevitable in human relationships?

Most times, those who struggle with trust are those who also struggle with high levels, or persistent levels, of anxiety. They work too hard, feeling that the weight of the world is on their shoulders. That things are all up to them. That they are alone. Maybe you know people who struggle in this way. Perhaps you are one of them.

For me, when I realize that I am working way too hard and beginning to feel the weight of the world, I reflect upon why and then I remind myself to just sit back and let the universe hold me for a while. In fact, this self-created affirmation has become something that has empowered me countless times throughout my life. To be clear, I do not mean to imply that we should sit back and do nothing. I do mean that we can reposition ourselves to breathe differently, think differently about what we are trying to control and let things unfold organically, recognizing that much of the energy we are putting out is going to waste because we’re really not THAT powerful that we can control everything.

I offer my affirmation to you. I invite you to just sit back and let the universe hold you for a while. Experience it. Trust it. Allow it to help you let go of what you are holding onto. Notice what emotions rise up as you breathe into this new space. It may be scary at first but with practice it will become easier.

I also invite you to create your own affirmation(s), even daily. If you create them from within yourself, they will resonate differently and more deeply. Sounds hokey? I understand. But sometimes this hokey stuff is amazing if you suspend your judgment. Give it a try!

What’s your affirmation?


thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches, now is a good time to increase your mindfulness in taking care of yourself daily and especially through the holiday season.

Some experience holidays as joyous, cheerful times to connect with family and friends. Others experience the holiday time as tense, sad and depressing. And of course, there is the huge spectrum that exists between those two experiences. But generally speaking, holiday times are usually replete with emotion. Likely, a mix of emotions.

Whatever your experience is, it is up to you to honor it. Absent of judgment. With connection and with consciousness.

And the food… when thinking of Thanksgiving food, we oftentimes conjure up images of large tables overflowing with food. For those struggling with eating disorders, or who have a more complicated relationship with food, it will undoubtedly trigger anxiety, fear and overwhelm.

When you approach this holiday season, and the many mealtimes throughout, slow down. Become mindful. Check in with yourself and notice how you are feeling both emotionally and physically. Continue to check in with yourself throughout the day, the meal, the holiday. Take a time-out if you are feeling overwhelmed. Confide in a family member, significant other or a friend. Text someone. Stay in touch with someone who knows what is going on for you and assure yourself that you are not alone.

Become curious about which emotions you honor and which you tend not to. Become curious about when you choose to honor your hunger and satiety and when you choose not to. And above all, have a meaningful Thanksgiving and make sure to give gratitude to yourself!