S2 - Episode 024: How Social Media Causes Anxiety

Episode Description:

What if I told you that there’s an addiction that causes you a great deal of anxiety? Would you believe me? I believe that we're highly addicted to both our smartphones and social media. I would even say that we’re pretty well aware of it, but truthfully we’re OK with it.

In this episode of the podcast we talk about how those of us who fight the anxiety battle, need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask the question “Is social media helping or hurting me?”

Episode Insights:


If we seek to escape this unpleasantness, the easiest thing we can do in our current culture is jump on Instagram or our preferred platform. This process leads us into or to continue a closed pattern of escapism.


Social media leads us to compare ourselves to others and then unfortunately be disappointed.


The Categories of FOMO:

- missing out on popularity;

- missing out on information;

- missing out on social group interactions;

- missing out on the chance to prevent negative comments about the self by others.2

Episode Applications:

1. Seek a season or time of day to detach from social media.

- Use Do Not Disturb Mode and Screen Time as boundaries

2. Engage in Face-to Face Relationships

- Social media will never be able to replace the beauty of good

ol’ fashioned face-to-face relationships.

3. Be Active on Social Media

- If you just can’t live without your social media, I’d encourage

you to change your tactics when it comes to your

engagement with it. Maybe instead of mindlessly scrolling,

genuinely read, seek to understand and join the comments of

each post.

Episode Quotes/Resources:

Moreover, because social media emphasizes photographs and videos over the written word, heavy use of such sites can create an unhealthy concentration on the body and how it's perceived by others. This can lead to self-objectification (or choosing to evaluate oneself based on appearance) and anxiety over one's body and appearance. In turn, this opens the door to eating disorders, depression, sexual dysfunction7, and various other mental and physical health problems. - Dr. RoccaForte from Anxiety.org3
Technology is a really cool thing that can be used to do some serious good, but unfortunately I think it may have the upper hand on us. Why don’t we break the pattern and show it that it doesn’t control us, but we control it! - Aaron Lee

1.Is Social Media an Addiction - BLOG POST


2.Anxiety and Social Media Use


3.When Social Media Use Causes Harm and Anxiety


Use Do Not Disturb on Your iPhone


Use Screen Time on Your iPhone


TAP Resources:

🎧 Listen and Subscribe to the Anxious Pastor Podcast Show HERE:

Apple: https://apple.co/3a7CpWH

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/39hcuvP

Sign Up for our Email List:


📲 Connect with us on Social Media





👨🏻‍💻Join the Facebook Community Group:


Episode Transcript:

Aaron 0:00

What if I told you that there's an addiction that's causing you a great deal of anxiety? Would you want to do something about it? Or would you even believe me? What if I told you that it's something that you do every day? Would you be more open to believing me? Or would you just brush me off and go check Facebook? I believe that we're highly addicted to both our smartphones, and social media and, and I would even say that we're pretty much aware of it. But truthfully, we're kind of okay with it. For those of us who fight the anxiety battle, I really feel that we need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask the question is social media helping or hurting me? That look in the mirror has to be real, and it has to be authentic. So let's get trying

Aaron 1:05

What's up friends welcome to Episode 24 of The Anxious Pastor Podcast. Before we get going, I wanted to share something very, very exciting with you. And I don't want to give away too much quite yet because in our next episode Episode 25 I'm going to give the big news and announce all the details for for this exciting thing I'm talking about. But here's what I can share. The Anxious Pastor Podcast is getting a brand new name. Can you believe it a brand new name? I'm pumped. It's going to be great. And, more importantly, my old friend the rooster. He's he's going to retire from his role in the intro and outro of the show. I know I know many of you are weeping And sad in this moment, so I'm going to take a moment of silence. Okay, that's long enough. But let's be honest, the the old bird, I mean, he probably needs a break in his vocal cords. So maybe you're asking what's what's the name of the of the podcast? Well guess what you got to tune back in for Episode 25 to find out what it is, but it's something I've been praying about and working on honestly for for the past four or five months, and I can't wait to share all the details with you. So be sure to watch for that episode to drop. It'll be a week from the day that this episode drops. As always, please click that subscribe button. Please share the podcast with those you know and you love and be sure to leave us a review. A big part of how these platforms like Apple podcasts. distribute content is based on how many people review how many people read it and how many people subscribe to an industry podcasts. So if we want to help get it out there to help people, then then that would really help me is by you rating and reviewing.

Aaron 3:09

Today I want us to talk about how social media causes anxiety. Now I'm going to be very upfront about this, I'm pretty sure this isn't going to be a super fun, and it probably won't be my most popular episode. And the reason being is because nobody wants to admit that they have a problem. But I really do believe that we desperately need to talk about this. It's something I'm wrestling with in my own life. And I'll talk more about that in a little bit. A while back, I wrote a blog post just about this very subject. And it was very eye opening for me as I kind of dug into it to see that that there's a real grip on me when it comes to social media. And I'll post that link to the blog, in my show notes so you can have a read and kind of work through it on your own. But as we begin to talk about this subject, I want us to ask these questions. When you're anxious, Do you go to social media? So when you're feeling this anxiety stirring up inside of you, is your natural response to go to social media? Or what about this? When you're on social media, Do you become anxious? So do those feelings? Does that tight chest that worry that struggle start rising up in you? As you're on social media? If you answered no to either one of those questions, then I would say maybe this podcast episode is not for you. Or maybe I'm being real honest. You're denying the effects that social media has on you. Before you get mad, please just give this a listen and at least weigh out how this affects your life. I'm not saying that everyone is in bondage to their social media. But I will say it's important for us to take an assessment to ask these questions, to challenge ourselves when it comes to how social media affects us because it has been proven that it ties to mental health. I think it's safe to say that whether you're an optimist or a pessimist, the world is broken. And there are beautiful, amazing blessings and all sorts of things that we can hold on to and we should hold on to and man, I think we should be grateful for but with that being said, there's also a lot of things that are unpleasant. I mean, think about the world that's around us right now with all of the COVID-19 stuff to the racial divide in our country, to a political climate to That is, I guess, lack of a better term divided.

Aaron 6:05

That being said, it can feel like the world is unpleasant. And whether it's subtle or it's overwhelming, we need to realize that that unpleasantness actually affects us in in different ways. And if we seek to escape that unpleasantness, the easiest thing for us to do in our current culture is to jump on a social media platform, whether it be Instagram or Facebook. This this process, it leads us to continue this what I would call close pattern of escapism. In other words, we're trying to get away from the things that just make us uncomfortable. Now, I would say, These days you get on social media, and it's even more unpleasant. But we'll talk about that in a second. So let's look at a couple of ways that social media is causing us to be anxious. So like I mentioned escapism, we find ourselves in a world of staged photos, links about making the most delicious chocolate chip cookies to post about our beach vacation. That was a meson. Now, listen, I'm not knocking any of those things. But what I am saying is that we live in a world where we compare ourselves to all those things. So when we see people post that stuff, when we encounter the best chocolate chip cookies, we compare our things, our vacations, our chocolate chip cookies, our stage photos to those things. Now, we may be doing this consciously or we may be doing this unconsciously. Either way, we look at those stage photos and think Well, my house wasn't that clean. Well, the I got a new truck, I want a new truck. Or maybe my chocolate chip cookies were burnt and those look amazing. You start telling yourself that you aren't as good as those people. And so you compare yourself to others. And that is such an anxiety causing thing. The comparison trap is going to cause anxiety in us and it does cause anxiety in us, but maybe we don't even realize what's happening to us. In an article on anxiety.org from Dr. Rocca forte, this is what she says about this very subject. Because social media emphasizes photographs and videos over the written word. heavy use of such sites can create an unhealthy concentration on the body and how it's perceived by others. This can lead to self objectification or choosing to elevate oneself based on appearance. anxiety over one's body and appearance. In turn, this opens the door to eating disorders, depression, sexual dysfunction, and various other mental and physical health problems. Wow, that's crazy in it. I think in other words, it's saying that because social media is designed the way it is, it causes us to be anxious about ourselves. So let me give you a good example of this. This is true in my life, I can say that I fall into the comparison trap on a regular basis. And it happens so often that I have gotten to the point in recent weeks that I have deleted both Instagram and Facebook from my phone because it's just causing me a ton of anxiety. Not too long ago, I saw a picture on social media of someone who was out kayaking. I used to kayak all the time. It was something I really love to do something I was passionate About and really, really just found a lot of peace in. And it was, it was good because I was able to leave my phone off to the side in the vehicle and just go kayaking for a couple of hours and come back. And I just enjoyed that so much. But what happens is that now I see these photos of people going kayaking, and I feel like I'm missing out and I start comparing myself to those people. Well, how do they have time to do that? How do they have the resources to do that? Do they have friends that want to go with them to go do that? And what I find in myself is I sense this anxiety stirring up in me over something that is so stupid. But I would imagine that that is a reality for a lot of us. It may be as simple as someone kayaking. Or it may be that you're a single person, and you're seeing all these married people. Or maybe you're married but you and your spouse are having trouble having kids and you're seeing all these new babies popping up and it's gotta be hard on you.

Aaron 11:00

Now let's be real. It's not those people's fault, that person kayaking, it isn't their fault that I feel this way. But there is this cycle that happens with social media that causes anxiety in us, it causes in the in us when we see something that we can't have, and we want. And I know that in myself, and it doesn't mean that we shouldn't want those things. It just means we got to be careful with how we approach it and how we deal with it. Because if it's stern anxiety up in us, it's not good for us. So what I'm saying is not that you can't feel that way about kayaking or a spouse or wanting to have kids. It's that you can't allow it to bring your mental state down. Now please hear me I, I totally understand that. It's not always something you can control. It's not always something that you can manage on your own and obviously you need to be able to talk to Doctors and be able to have those conversations with the right people to help you figure that out. But what I'm talking about here is in the context of social media, is social media causing anxiety in your life? Because if it's causing you anxiety, why would you do it? And that's where I got, I got to the point where social media was causing me so much anxiety that I needed to step back. Now, I'm not off social media. But what I am doing is regulating my use of it. And I'll talk more about that in a minute. But that's me taking those apps off my phone. And you know, I'm just not engaged the way I was before. So we just talked about comparison. escapism, so we escape the world, to then find ourselves on social media to then compare ourselves to other people, which then we need to escape from. But here's something else that happens. And it also happens when we are not on social media. It's FOMO. I don't know if you've ever heard that term, but it means fear of missing out. So for for someone like myself, I love to have knowledge. I hate to be the last one to find out news. I hate to be the last one to find out that we're doing this new thing at church, or I hate to find out that my favorite restaurant just closed, it makes me miserable. But the thing about FOMO is we have this fear of missing out and causes us anxiety. So we spend more time on social media so that we don't miss out. Does that make sense? And then there's the side of it. When we're not on social media, we have this fear of missing out. Now I want to share with you a couple of the categories that fall underneath FOMO. Here are a couple from psychology today. missing out on popularity, missing out on information, missing out on social group interactions, and missing out on the chance to prevent negative comments about you. Now, think about Those, any of those resonate with you when it comes to social media? Are you afraid that you're going to miss out on popularity? Are you afraid that you're going to miss out on some sort of information? Or are you afraid that you're going to miss out on the social group that you connect with on social media? Or maybe you struggle with the interactions that you get on social media and you're worried about the negative comments that might be made about you. And so you have this fear of missing out? This, this actually holds really true if you're off social media, you have this fear, you have this FOMO. But the same thing applies to being on social media. So think of it this way FOMO causes you to get on social media. FOMO causes you to get off social media. It's like this vicious cycle. But think about it. It's kind of how social media platforms work and function and continue to bring people back. So here we are, we have I have to acknowledge that social media can be used to become an addiction. I would think many of us are struggling with it, but just don't want to let go of the life that we're not struggling with it.

Aaron 15:14

So what do we do to break this pattern? The answer, it's really gonna vary person to person. And I think there are a few practical things we can all do to break this pattern. And let me say this real quick. If you don't feel like you're struggling, I would just ask you to try these practical things anyway. Because maybe it'll be good for you just to take a break. And you can appreciate it more when you come back, or, or just kind of pulling back the reins a little bit. And maybe then ask yourself after you've done this for a little bit, ask yourself, How do I feel? How do I feel now? Are things better because I've pulled things back, or am I really still missing it? Alright, practical application number one, seek a season or time to detach from social media. Now this is very difficult unless we put some boundaries in place. And each one of these things has to be a blessing to you not something that makes you even more anxious. And now I will say there's going to be a season of struggle, there's going to be a season where we're going to wrestle with this and like, really want it. But that's what an addiction does. It pulls us back in, it keeps drawing us back says, Hey, you need this, you need this, when you really can make it without it. But it's so hard because that's what's happening inside your brain. It's telling you you need it. So the first thing like I said, detach, but you can do that by using the Do Not Disturb mode on your phone. Now I'm talking in the context of an iPhone, I don't know much about Android, Android, or any of the other devices. I'm an apple user. But you can set Do Not Disturb mode and you can put limits on your screen time. So every morning I get up. I have a time where I spend in the word, I have a time where I pray. And typically what I try to do is set that so that do not disturb is on during those times. So no Facebook notifications, no text messages, no phone calls come in during that time, so I can spend quality time with the Lord. And I think that's very important. The other thing is, it prevents me from continuing to be on my phone all day if I set the screen time up. So I have an allotted amount of time on Sundays. Right now. I've been in quarantine, and we're getting ready to go back into the gathering of our church. And so I have it set up on my phone that from 7am to 1230 75% of my apps, basically are just bricked, they can't be used during that time because I know I need to be engaged with people. And I need to be engaged in a way that allows me to connect relationally with people and not be distracted by My phone. Another thing I would say to do is if you're going to meet somebody for lunch, I have a friend that does this. And he does this. So well, he comes to every lunch meeting we have together and he does not bring his phone. And that's huge. Because you and I both know when you have those notifications that come in, specially from social media, you just feel your hand just being drawn to your phone, because you want to grab it. And you want to see what it says. It's releasing those endorphins. And so it makes us want to get that and get that fix. Now, that being said, if it would help you to not have notifications on your phone, that's something I started doing. I turned off the notifications for Facebook and Instagram, so that I never got them. So the only time I got them was if I opened the app itself. But that being said, you have to kind of be diligent into Okay, I'm not going to go check that app all the time. So what I'm encouraging you to do Just take a season off, whether it be a couple weeks, a couple months, you have to, you have to do that for yourself and you have to know what works best for you. Or you do it for a day, just go on a sabbatical for a day from social media fast for a day from social media, or a week or whatever will help you and allow yourself to kind of detox out of that. And and what I encourage you to do is make sure hear me here, make sure that you're doing it in a healthy way. And that it's something that's fulfilling that you don't find yourself going down other dark paths that may bring more anxiety to your life. practical application number two would be engage in face to face relationships.

Aaron 19:46

Now I realized that in this season, we're still kind of easing our way back into having a connection with people face to face, but that's okay, you can do that. And you can do that with masks on these days. But as a We ease into that more and more I would tell you that there is nothing better than nothing can replace a good old fashioned face to face relationship. Now, I want to be clear social media can do some really good things. You can connect to people that are across the country. You know, I have, I have a friend who I've been close with since college, and he and I sometimes connect through social media, and that's huge. But then there's the the side of things where if I'm in the same place as someone else, I'm going to do my best to go spend some time with someone, go watch a movie, go grab a coffee, go to lunch. Those are really good things. And honestly, it helps break the distraction of that social media feeling you have. If you again, leave your phone away. So those face to face relationships. That's where that's where the money is people. That's where we find connection, and that's what we're meant for that we got to remember that we're connected for a reason. Social media is meant to be good, but it can have these detrimental effects on us. And we want to break that pattern and show that it doesn't control us, but that we control it. And the last practical application, if it's, if you're one of those people, it's like, you know what, I'm not doing this. I'm not disconnecting from social media. Well, then the practical application I would give you is then be active on social media. And what I mean by that is mindless scrolling through your phone is not healthy. Think about it. You are doing no good just going through your feed, looking looking looking looking. What are you searching for? Are you looking looking for the next thing that's gonna intrigue you? Are you looking for the next thing that you can compare to? Or are you looking for the next thing you can buy? Engage in social media the way it's meant to be engaged in, engaging in a way that you go through each Post, and you know, change your tactics, go in and engage in each post. I mean, you're following these people, if you're following these people or you're friends with these people, it's worth having real, meaningful, active connection with them through their posts. So if they post something about their family or they post something about their kids, encourage them, be a blessing to them. That is helpful. That is a huge, huge thing for us.

Aaron 22:30

Because what happens is, again, as we scroll mindlessly, we're looking for stuff that's going to make us feel good. We're looking for things, it's going to make me feel better. You hear that emphasis on making you hear what I'm saying? When we focus on me, everybody else gets left out. And when we focus on the other people, then we're engaging in relationships. we're engaging in the social aspect. Have a relationship of social media. So again, you've chosen to be friends with these people, maybe act like it. Okay, I know that this can feel harsh. I know that it can feel convicting. I know it can feel like it's pulling us down. It's making us feel more anxious. Because we're being told that we're anxious. Now, here's the thing. What would you want to be known for? Do you want to be known as the person that only cares about themselves and only cares about what they can get out of something? Or do you want to be the person who connects with other people, builds other people up, encourages and expresses love for other people. I think that's what life is all about. And I really believe that we can do that both on and off social media. So let this be an encouragement to you. Don't let it be something that makes you feel miserable about yourself, but let it be an encouragement. If you feel convicted to get off social media to take that sabbatical. Do it If you don't feel that, engage in the way that you are meant to engage, be a blessing. Start meaningful conversations have powerful life changing relationships with people. That's what changes the world, not mindless scrolling. So as we close out our time here together, I just want to thank you for sticking it out if you've made it this far, as always, I'm grateful. Because, you know, this isn't a fun subject. Like I mentioned at the beginning, it's not the the most popular thing and I'm sure it won't be the most listened to episode and that's okay. But what I want to say to each of you is that you have a purpose in your life. And a lot of times we allow things to hold us back. I know I do. have done it today.

Aaron 24:50

But what I do know is that that purpose for my life can do beautiful things in this world. It can do life changing things. In this world, if I embrace it, if I don't, I'm just robbing other people of that blessing. And while me personally as a believer in Jesus, I don't believe that any of this comes from me. I think it comes from him and his blessings and love over my life. And so I want to share that with the world. So as we wrap up here, be sure to come back for next week's episode. It'll release a week from today's launch, which would be Wednesday. It'll release then and I'm going to share some really really exciting things I'm so pumped to tell you about it. Also jump over to the anxious pastor comm join our mailing list. I'm trying to just get better about sending out info and letting you know when new things drop. Also, you can find the show notes more detailed things from these episodes. Hopefully that'll help. And like I mentioned at the beginning, hit the subscribe button, share rate and review that really helps it get out there in those platform. That we can just help people. And as always, what's important is that we live real and that we be authentic. So let's get trying