In Part Two of this series I am going to just get this one out of the way: Social Media!
Yes, I know, I am a blogger and I just shot myself in the foot, as well as all of my fellow bloggers because we all depend greatly on Social Media, but the truth is the truth: Spending too much time online can lead to a flare. Some people are online for other reasons, so Social Media is not the only culprit, however, it is a huge one, especially it seems for those of us LIVING a fibroLIFE©.
Granted, Social Media is a huge help to us and can play a positive role in our fibroLIVES©.
We could add to this list of positive aspects of Social Media fairly easily I am sure, so I am not saying it is bad for us at all. However, like all things in life, especially a fibroLIFE©, balance is absolutely necessary!
I am by no means trying to discourage anyone from using Social Media. I do want you to practice good habits however to avoid possible flares as a result.
Move Around Often
It is easy to get caught up in reading posts, chatting, playing a game, etc. and not realize how much time has passed. We even find ourselves ignoring that sensation nagging at us saying, “Ok we need to move some now.” Well, do NOT ignore that little voice! Instead, pay special attention to it. If you find that does not work, then set a timer to remind you. We all have them on our cell phones or you can even use a kitchen timer if you must. Determine how long you can sit—for most of us 15 to 30 minutes tops—and then be sure to STOP what you are doing, stretch, move around, and hydrate! Staying adequately hydrated will not only help avoid an increase in pain or headaches, but it will also help see to it that you are move more often because you will need to use the restroom.
Break up Repetitive Motion Activities
Moving around often will help this unless you are clever like I am and pick up your mobile device to multi-task while you are moving around! When you take a break from what you are doing online, truly take a break. Your hands, fingers, arms, and neck do not actually rest unless you use them differently. Standing up and walking while still online only helps the lower body—not the actual parts of the body suffering from repetitive motion activities.
Chew up the Meat and Spit out the Bones
I get really tired of reading posts, memes, and entire articles demonizing social media. Like all things, it is what you make of it. I am often amazed by the number of people who think every post is about them in some way. Also, some people cannot just allow someone else to have a different opinion—they just have to “set them straight”. Then there are those who do not just share for support, but they share every detail of everything, all the time. Do not get caught up in any of this! Take the good, leave the bad. Read what you can benefit from, ignore the rest. If this is difficult for you, set your social media filters to help you. Go ahead and unfollow, hide notifications, or even unfriend someone or unfollow a page or group if you find that content from them is truly upsetting you. “Chew up the meat”—the good stuff, and “spit out the bones”—the bad stuff, on social media. You should be controlling it, not the other way around! Keep proper perspective of things.
I am the world’s worst at wanting to finish something I am working on without stopping. Because of fibro fog and fatigue, going back to something I have started is like starting over for me. This, in turn, increases my anxiety to the point that I have increased symptoms just thinking about trying to return to something I did not complete. For this reason, I have to find creative ways to pace myself—to trick myself into not seeing things are unfinished. By using outlines for each of the things I write, I can stop after a heading is finished and not feel like I stopped in the middle of an article.
I am not a big gamer, but I do play Words with Friends. I have to keep a limit on the number of games I have going because I am so competitive plus I hate to leave my friends waiting for me to play.
I love to read, learn new things, and stay up on current events, plus I stay up on all the FMS info. When I go to Facebook, I always find things I want to or feel I need to read. Plus, I get many emails each day with content I want to or feel I need to read. I have had anxiety attacks over how many things are waiting for me to read! Rather than reading everything as it comes, I save the articles and read them when it is convenient and when I feel up to it. I only read while it still feels “good”, “productive”, or “relaxing” to me. Once it becomes the least bit stressful, tiring, or negative in some other sense, I simply stop. It is after all my choice as to what I read or do not read. Again, it is about you being in control of social media, not the other way around.
Another way to avoid being overwhelmed is to not participate in all social media. I simply cannot. I use Facebook regularly and twitter when I can. I try to keep a presence on LinkedIn as well. I left the others long ago. Social Media mediums count on, "If we build it, they will come." I have limited energy, as do most of you, so I cannot be one of those who joins every new option out there. Just because it is there, it does not mean I have to be a part of it. I choose to use what I am most comfortable with to cause less stress, thus be less likely to lead to fibro flares.
Do not let Social Media replace the Real World
This one is the toughest in my opinion. Often, we really feel the only people who understand us are our social media contacts. Plus, it is there for us anytime, day or night. We do not have to leave the house, dress up, look presentable, etc. The thing is, we need to dress up, look presentable, and leave the house sometimes! Also, we need to focus on repairing and/or strengthening our real-world relationships or creating new ones.
Another pit we fall into with social media is the feeling that it is the only place we are accomplishing anything or making a difference. How many of us have at one time or still do spend most of our time online reaching out to others through our funny, inspirational, or educational and informative posts? I used to be online as much as I could every day for just this purpose and felt like a horrible failure whenever I could not. The stress from that kind of pressure caused me to have flares! It also took time away from other things that I really needed to be doing. We have to take care of ourselves, we have family and friends we are responsible to and for, and we have business and social responsibilities as well. Doing good things for others online should not become so important to us that we neglect these other areas. I personally still suffer from this one a great deal. Knowing I am not writing every day stresses me so badly, but I am also a wife, daughter, mother, friend, etc. I have to work everyday at keeping the negative aspect of the stress I put upon myself from taking away from how well I care for myself or how well I LIVE up to my other responsibilities in my fibroLIFE.
Relying totally on social media for our socialization just increases our literal, real-world isolation. It is up to each of us not to let that happen. While you may not have connected the two before, I assure you that maintaining balance--controlling social media rather than social media controlling us--is necessary to keep social media from actually contributing to your fibro flares.