Social Media Use and COVID-19
The current COVID-19 outbreak has created many changes to our daily lives. You may be attending school through a virtual platform when you were used to being in a classroom. Maybe you were looking forward to a special event, like graduation or prom, which was cancelled due to the quarantine measures. The sudden loss of structure and routine in our every-day lives is hard. We’re all collectively grieving the loss of our lives prior to the pandemic. Life as we knew it has changed and it’s created a lot of unknowns. The looming threat of possible unemployment, constant worry about paying the bills each month, uncertainty of exposure if you or a loved one is considered an essential worker, all leads to increased levels of stress and anxiety. However, there are certain populations that may be managing all of these stressor all while managing the day to day challenges of being considered a racial or ethnic minority, lack access to healthcare, and may also have undocumented immigrant status. If you were dealing with mental health concerns, like an Eating Disorder, or depression, you might notice that your symptoms might feel more intense. This is all normal.
Body Image & Social Media
You might be on social media more in an attempt to stay connected with others. Internet memes have surfaced in regards to “gaining the COVID-19” or “quarantine 15”. These memes tend to poke fun at larger bodies by making them the “after” picture when self-isolation measures are no longer recommended. It can be really upsetting to see that, especially if you live in a larger body. It might even be impacting your self-esteem negatively. If you already struggle with the idea of gaining weight, this might increase your anxiety surrounding food too. Your body and mind are going through a lot of changes during this time. It’s possible that your body may look differently after quarantine is over. This is just your way of adapting too many changes all at once. This is the first time we are living through a situation like this. Allow your body time to adjust to all these changes.
“Should I Be Doing More?”
It can feel like everyone is “making the most” of their time indoors. People in your social media networks might be sharing cooking videos, cool hobbies, different crafts, and new skills they are picking up. While learning new skills can bring us joy and confidence, if you struggle with motivation, it can feel really overwhelming and add to feelings of worthlessness. Sometimes just getting up from the bed can feel like a monumental task. Remember, you are doing the best you can. Celebrate those small achievements, like getting out of the bed or brushing your teeth. Keep in mind you should not be expected to function or be productive at the same level you were prior to the outbreak.
Setting (Virtual) Boundaries
Limiting your exposure to social media and news outlets can also help curb some stressful feelings. Your phone should have controls to remind you when you’ve spent more than a certain number of hours on social media sites. Same goes with reading, watching and listening to news about the coronavirus. Try only getting your news updates from trusted sources, like CDC.org. Check updates at specific times, like in the morning and in the evening, not continuously throughout the day.
Safety and Support
Sometimes the people we live with can make us feel uncomfortable or unsafe. This goes beyond dealing with a younger sibling who plays their music too loud while you attempt to finish your schoolwork. Adults or other kids we live with can do things that make us feel like we are in danger. These behaviors may not have been present prior to physical distancing or maybe they were present before but are now getting worse. If you feel like your home has become unsafe, do not hesitate to speak to a trusted adult, like a teacher, or call 911.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, isolation, and anxiety, the additional supports listed below are available 24/7 and have trained counselors to help you in times of crisis.
- Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (available 24/7)
- National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or text CONNECT to 741741
- National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233
Your doctor can still “see” you with a telehealth appointment. Just call your doctor’s office and find out how. You are still able to meet with a therapist virtually during this time, too. If you live in the U.S., you can look for a therapist here: Find a Therapist, Psychologist, Counselor and at InnoPsych: Home
More Quick Tips
- Eat nourishing and healthy meals that make your body feel good. Some yummy recipes here: Cooking at Home in the Time of Coronavirus
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. You can find Sleep Hygiene Tips here!
- Incorporate movement when you can, like dancing to your favorite song!
- Avoid using drugs, alcohol and other substances.
- Try to do activities that bring you joy, like reading or watching a movie with your family.
- Stay connected with friends and family while honoring physical distancing guidelines.
- 8 Free Apps to Help You Stay Connected During Coronavirus
Remember, you are doing the best you can. It is okay if you’re feeling confusion, frustration, sadness, fear, and loneliness. You might even be feeling inspired and hopeful by the recent acts of bravery and solidarity that people across the globe have exhibited. It is okay if you’re feeling all of these different emotions at once. Recognizing your feelings and emotions is a good skill to have because it means you’re practicing self-awareness. Self-awareness is a sign of emotional intelligence and helps us to better understand ourselves. You are practicing that right now!