It’s interesting to see the human response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve already discussed how being on lockdown is leading to more active sex lives, how some people cope with their anxiety through being creative and how some people are helping others in this crisis.
In part.4 I’ll be discussing how people respond to the pandemic through social media.
What is Social Media?
Social media is a term that used to describe websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. Social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram and Zoom.
Social Media! A Curse or a Blessing?
The consumption of social media has increased since the beginning of the pandemic. The role of social media has been paradoxical since this crisis started. It’s been a curse and a blessing at the same time.
It’s been a curse due to the large amount of misinformation about the pandemic that’s feeding into our anxiety. Also, before this crisis it was well documented that overuse of social media has been linked to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
However social media has been a blessing for many reasons as well.
Why is Social Media A Blessing?
Reasons Social Media is a Blessing Include:
Crowdsourcing: This involves seeking knowledge, goods or services from a large body of people through social media. Crowdsourcing is being used by organizations and individuals to raise funds to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
A Marketing Platform: Despite some companies preying on the COVID-19 mass hysteria, there are others providing powerful and empathetic responses to this crisis. The main responsibility of brands right now is to provide for the safety and wellbeing for not only their employees, but their customers as well.
A Source of Information: We never had more real time information available in the face of a worldwide event until now. Social media provides information that can provide us with a better understanding of what’s occurring and how it might impact us.
Virtual Medicine: Virtual medicine is helping to make access to healthcare more convenient and help those who are most vulnerable. People can see and talk to a doctor through their smartphone, tablet or computer instead of visiting the doctor’s office.
Keep In Touch With Family And Friends: Platforms such as Zoom make it easier to connect with family and friends remotely. Due to lockdown and social distancing many people can’t see their loved ones face-to-face, so they’re connecting via social media.
Working-At-Home: Social media is being used to keep remote workers connected with their employers while on lockdown.
Do You Use Social Media More While Under Lockdown?
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Escapism is the tendency to distract yourself or find relief from anything that’s unpleasant, boring or scary. This can come from seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.
What are the Pros and Cons of Escapism?
Escapism has many pros and cons.
Can be Therapeutic and Relieves Stress
You Can Become Someone Else
Temporarily Disconnect From Reality
Tendency to Be More Creative
Makes You Want To Travel More
Lack of Productivity
Can Lead to Addiction
Lose Touch With The Harsh Realities Of The World
Lose the Ability to Cope with Uncertainty
We all seek different forms of escapism as ways to cope with the stress and anxiety of day to day life. Some of us unwind by sitting by the pool and having a drink and there are others that like to play video games.
Escapism is a problem when we have a compulsive need to escape from reality and not address the issues that are unpleasant, boring or scary. When this happens escapism becomes an addiction.
What are Some Examples of Escapism?
Escapism comes in many forms including:
Sports: Sports are a positive form of escapism. Whether you’re watching your favorite team on television or sitting in the bleachers at the arena it’s a great way to release stress.
Working: We all need to work to live, but there’s a form of escapism in which someone lives to work by choice. This happens when someone has the need to escape from having to deal with issues in life such as lack of quality relationships, lack or personal fulfilment or lack of satisfaction with the direction your life is heading.
Consumption of Alcohol and Drugs (In Moderation): We all like to party in order to get a break from life.
Overeating: Food can be used as a form of escapism. The painful realities of our lives are too much for some of us to bare, if we don’t want to face unpleasant realities that bring us pain some of us overeat to take the pain away.
Video Games: We sometimes need to escape from reality by temporarily escaping from it.
Love: Love is an intense feeling of deep affection for another person. There are some people that view love as a form of escapism.
Social Media: I mention this topic a lot in this blog. Social media has its positives, but it has its negatives also including internet addiction.
How Escapism Affects your Wellbeing?
Escapism is how a lot of us cope with the challenges of life, but over time it can become unhealthy and can prevent us from doing what we want to do to improve our real lives.
Escapism can lead to these problems:
Dissociation and Destruction of Self
Depression and Anxiety
Less Time and Energy for Working On Real Life Issues
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How To Turn Escapism Into Something Positive?
It’s ok to engage in escapism in small bouts throughout the day to rest your brain and get a break from less serious stuff. However, if you’re engaging in escapism more often and it becomes avoidance.
What is Avoidance?
Excessive escapism can turn into avoidance; it’s also known as avoidance coping, avoidance behaviors and escape coping. Whatever you call it; it’s a dysfunctional form of coping that leads to the changing of our behavior in order to avoid thinking about things or feeling emotions that make us feel uncomfortable.
Avoidance involves us trying to avoid stressors that cause anxiety. The more you avoid dealing with these stressors in your life, the more the underlying anxiety accumulates.
An example of avoidance is not coping with unresolved issues from a past relationship. The amount of lingering emotional baggage can lead to love addiction, which is a compulsive, chronic craving and pursuit of romantic love in an effort to get our sense of security and worth from another person. Love addiction can lead to a toxic relationship in which you lose your sense of self and deal with ever increasing depression and anxiety.
Another example of avoidance is video game addiction. Video games in general can be addictive and they’re designed to be addictive. It’s estimated that 5 to 15% of gamers are addicted to them. These gamers already have underlying issues with depression and anxiety due to things in their lives that are difficult to cope with, so they avoid facing these problems head on. Overtime this leads to a lot of problems, for example some people that become addicted to gaming have self-esteem problems in real life caused by issues such as underemployment, relationship issues and financial issues. In the gaming world they escape from these unpleasant realities by being in control in a fantasy world where you may have a higher status than in real life. This can lead to problems with dissociation and losing oneself in this fantasy world and you can lose the ability to cope with real life altogether.
How To Cope in a Healthier Way?
There are other ways of coping with unresolved life issues that are more positive.
These forms of coping include:
Talking Thru Problems: If there’s an unresolved problem in your life it’s important to talk about it and admit that its causing a problem instead of letting it fester.
Reframing Your Anxiety: I mentioned in a previous blog post about turning anxiety into a superpower about a form of therapy called ‘reframing’. It’s taking negative thoughts that cause anxiety and reframe them into something positive. For example, if you’re having negative thoughts about why you didn’t make a team in high school and ask yourself what positive things came from not making the team.
Minimize Stress: It’s important to keep stress to a minimum, because when it’s kept to a minimum anxiety is kept to a minimum.
Meditation: Meditation is a great way to focus on the present moment and be able to cope with reality.
Live Your Life Like a Character in a Game: This is an interesting idea. Certain video games allow you to level up when you gain enough experience points. For example in Role Playing Games (RPG’s) such as ‘Final Fantasy’ you eventually gain a level when you gather enough experience points. When you gain a level and manage the money you earn you’re able to equip new weapons, you gain status upgrades and you have more hit points. What if you live your life like a character in an RPG; when you have an unresolved issue you want to tackle and when you do it can feel like a level upgrade. The same thing can occur in other areas of your life; when you earn a new college degree or acquire a new professional license and become a Master at what you do it’s like a character from ‘Final Fantasy’ named Cecil upgrading his job from Dark Knight to Paladin. If you ever played one of these games you’ll understand what I mean.
Make Your Real Life More Fun: If you’re feeling bored with your life and you have tendencies to want to escape into an imaginary world try planning more fun real life experiences. These can include traveling, spending time with friends and family and/or going to the beach.
“Escape” From The Life You Already Have: If you’re unhappy with your life and need to make a change start by learning new things that you can use to make your situation better. Instead of wasting your time on your laptop binge watching shows on NetFlix start enrolling in an online course instead. You’re already spending so much time on your computer anyway try using that time to improve yourself.
This post concludes the series on New Year’s Resolutions. Stress and Anxiety can be kept to a minimum and easier to cope when you take a step toward making some positive changes to your life.
Eat less junk food, drink more water, find better ways to cope with stress and most importantly keep escapism to a minimum.
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In this week’s blog I’ll be exploring the concept of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
What is FOMO?
FOMO is anxiety that occurs when an exciting or interesting event is happening somewhere else and is often aroused by posts seen on social media.
What Are Some Examples of FOMO?
FOMO has always been around. Remember the old idea of “Keeping up with the Jones”?! The idea that stems from person A being jealous and envious of person B’s new car or new house so Person A starts experiencing feelings of inadequacy and anxiety associated with the Fear of Missing Out except it’s with materialistic possessions.
The FOMO I’m referring to is social media driven and more extreme than Keeping up with the Joneses. It’s the fear of missing out on social interactions, novel experiences or other potentially satisfying events.
Who is Affected by FOMO?
Between 75 to 80 percent of Americans have some kind of social media account. However, more than 50 percent of social media users experience FOMO and it’s the most common among the 18 to 33 year old age bracket.
What Problems Are Caused by FOMO and How Do You Overcome Them?
FOMO affects us in numerous ways including:
Extreme Social Anxiety: Social anxiety occurs when everyday interactions cause significant worry and self-consciousness about how others perceive you. In a way FOMO is a more extreme form of social anxiety that causes someone to feel anxious that they’re missing out on bonding time with other people.
How To Overcome Social Anxiety:
Reducing Social Media Usage: This may not seem like much, but it’s a start.
Self-Help Manuals: Self-help manuals are intended to supplement therapy and are great tools for working on yourself.
Therapy: It helps to find a therapist that specializes in anxiety disorders and they can work with you to develop coping skills and also get to the cause of your social anxiety.
Meditation: When you’re compulsively chasing after experiences due to FOMO it can make happiness an illusion. By practicing mindfulness you can become happier by focusing on the present moment and feeling a deeper sense of meaning from it.
Journaling: Evokes mindfulness and helps someone remain present while keeping perspective.
Learn How To Keep Negative Thinking Under Control: I mentioned in my post, “How to Turn Anxiety Into A Superpower”? that anxiety is characterized by a tendency toward negative thinking due to over generalization. This way of thinking is transformed with reframing, which is a process where negative and unhelpful thoughts are identified and replaced with positive and empowering ones.
Depression: Overuse of social media caused by FOMO can cause depression. Also, depression is an indication of an underlying source of stress caused by spreading ourselves too thin when we do too many things.
The opposite of FOMO is JOMO. JOMO (Joy of missing out) describes the joy people experience when they take a break from social activity. We tend to overload our lives with social obligations than necessary and we lose sight of how to enjoy the present moment.
Perceived Low Status: People have always been concerned about their social standing, however social media induced FOMO has resulted in a bigger obsession with social standing resulting in more anxiety and feelings of inferiority.
Feelings of perceived lower status caused by FOMO may be part of a much larger problem. The negative feelings of having a perceived lower status can be triggered by FOMO; have you ever started questioning about whether you’re happy with your job or happy with your current friends?! Do you feel like your social standing is feeling affected by these things? The feelings of unhappiness or insecurities dredged up by FOMO may be an opportunity to take a break from social media and think about how you can become happier and more fulfilled in your life.
Loneliness: Many people use social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to keep in touch with friends they meet offline. However, there are many people that use social media as a substitute for real connection and they develop feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. These feelings are enhanced if you are dealing with FOMO.
When you’re feeling lonely it helps to reemphasize relationships. I’m not talking about online dating which is the biggest source of FOMO. Instead spend more time with your family and friends offline doing group activities and can increase the quality of our relationships.
Reduced Self-Esteem: FOMO can lead to reduced self-esteem; this can go hand-in-hand with the depression and loneliness brought on by social anxiety.
How to boost self-esteem:
Be Kind To Yourself
Learn How To Say “No”
Accept thatNobody’s Perfect
Accept thatWe All Make Mistakes
Focus on What You Can Change
Do What Makes You Happy
Show Gratitude for the Small Things
Mood Swings: Mood swings are a normal occurrence, but they can also be an indicator of an underlying problem such as FOMO.
Mood swings can be caused by many social media induced issues including stress and anxiety, getting off schedule and disrupted sleep. It’s important to talk to a professional about this, because mood swings can be a sign of a much bigger problem than FOMO.
Social Media Addiction: FOMO can lead to a compulsive desire to stay connected with other people’s lives online.
The general over-use of social media may be the root of the problem. It helps to take a break from using social media. Instead of compulsively checking Facebook and/or Instagram several times a day focus on other ways to keep your mind occupied including hobbies, exercising and socializing with people offline.
Having a Hard Time Committing in Case Something Else Comes Up: This happens a lot not just on Facebook, but also on online dating platforms. The paradox of choice involved with the fear of buyer’s remorse when we go car shopping is similar to FOMO when there are too many choices. Feelings of fear, guilt and anxiety can creep in if you miss out on something due to FOMO.
Due to the paradox of choice it can create problems with committing to anything. It’s important to evaluate these choices and prioritize which ones you choose based on what you truly value.
Feeling That You’ll Never Catch Up to Everyone Else: FOMO makes people perceive that they’re falling behind in life when they compare their accomplishments with someone else’s on social media and also seeing how much better their lives are compared to yours. The sense of urgency it creates results in increased anxiety and fear.
Most people use social media to exaggerate in order to make their lives seem a lot better and more fun than they actually are. It helps to take a step back and realize that these exaggerated lives don’t exist. Also, realize that these people have problems in their lives too but won’t post it on social media.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is anxiety that occurs when we get mentally aroused by social media posts of events or experiences happening somewhere else.
Problems that can occur with FOMO include social anxiety, depression, loneliness and reduced self-esteem that result from social media addiction. However, being aware that these problems are happening are the first step toward overcoming FOMO.
If you are struggling with anxiety please click on the button below to download a free anxiety expert guide.
This week’s blog is the second part of a two part blog about minimizing anxiety while car shopping.
How Can You Keep Car Shopping Anxiety to a Minimum?
Ask Yourself Some Questions
These include, “Can I afford this car”, “What kind of a car do I want?”, “How am I going to pay for it”, “How much is my old car worth”, “Should I buy new or used”. Also, ask “what if”? What if something unexpected comes up or What if I have buyer’s remorse?
There are many benefits to asking questions including:
We get better answers the more we question
The quality of our lives depends on it
Asking questions can make you wiser and more open.
Do your Homework
In my previous blog I mentioned the causes of stress and anxiety when you’re car shopping and also the pros and cons of buying or leasing a car. Here’s a link to last week’s blog:
For me personally, doing my homework ahead of time about the car I want and being aware of possible stressors that cause anxiety can help me make better decisions when a deal is being made.
What else should you do?
Researching Prices Online
Ask a Friend What They Think?
Learn Some Valuable Car-Buying Vocabulary
Check into a Dealer’s Reputation
Check What Kind of Financing you Qualify for
Get an Insurance Quote
Learn About any Past Damage Done to a Car
Test Drive the Car
Don’t Buy the Car Based on Looks
Get Your Finances Together Ahead of Time
Here are some things that should be put into consideration when you’re getting your finances together.
What to do ahead of time:
Check Your Credit Score
Get Pre-Approved For a Car Loan
Set Your Budget Based on Loan Offer
Find The Car You Want
Review The Dealer’s Offer
Choose and Finalize Your Loan
Make Payments On Time
Dress for Success
From my experience dressing up in nicer clothes can help with boosting confidence and reducing anxiety when you’re negotiating with the dealership. When you dress-up whether business casual or a full suit you radiate self-respect and self-worth. Also, when you look good, you feel good meaning that higher self-esteem can equal a more positive mental attitude that can minimize anxiety.
Take a Day Off from Work
According to cars.com the average time spent at the dealership is more than three hours.
The time is spent:
Negotiating The Deal (Up to 41 minutes or more)
Selecting The Vehicle You Want To Buy (Up to 49 minutes or more)
Time Spent at The F & I Office (Up to 32 minutes or more)
If you do your homework ahead of time through internet research before you venture into the showroom it can save you time when you’re car shopping.
Also, taking a day off from work during the week can save a lot of time. The dealerships are the busiest on Saturdays and Sundays, because this is when most people have time off. When I took a wednesday off from work to go car shopping I noticed that it was not busy at all, especially when the dealership first opens.
After doing my research about the car I wanted I headed for the dealership at 10am; since I knew what I wanted ahead of time, being aware of how much to put down and the dealership was not busy, I was out of there in only an hour and a half.
This helps me a lot to plan ahead. I know that I can be anxious when there are time restraints when I have to take time off during the work day and have to come back to work by a specific time. By taking the entire day off I’d have plenty of time at the dealership and I’d be more relaxed.
Learn How To See Things from the Other Party’s Perspective
It’s important to learn how to see things from the dealership’s perspective. Consumers would be surprised to learn how little money is made selling a new car, for example it’s assumed that thousands of dollars are made selling a new car, but in fact the dealership only makes on average $1,000 to 1,500 on a sale. Instead, dealerships make most of their money in parts and service and make a higher profit margin selling used cars.
It’s also expensive to run a dealership between operating expenses including salaries and benefits for its employees.
Putting all these factors into perspective you can see why car shopping can be stressful for both parties and realizing this can make the negotiating process less stressful when you learn why a dealership will try to do some of the things they’re known to do, such as trying to sell you add-ons like an extended warranty or nitrogen for your tires.
Alternatives to the Dealership Experience
Car shopping has a notorious reputation for being the consumer’s least favorite experience. Between the stress and anxiety of negotiating and haggling with the dealership over a car it is generally not the most enjoyable experience.
Here are some alternatives to the dealership experience:
Buy Online: Buying a car online is a way to avoid spending time in an auto dealership. Thanks to the internet it’s possible to handle most or all of the tasks associated with purchasing a new or used vehicle. Shopping online can occur anywhere there is an internet connection.
Car Brokers: A car or auto broker manages the car buying process on the behalf of the consumer. Car brokers offer a free or inexpensive service that often takes much of the haggling out of the car buying process. Most consumers can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars when they hire a car broker.
Car Auctions: An auction is a public sale in which goods or property are sold to the highest bidder. Car auctions or dealer auctions have cars that are about $1,000 to $2,000 cheaper than buying retail, however dealer auctions are usually not open to the public and are only accessible to dealers that have a license. There are public government auctions open to the public through law enforcement agencies, but another way to access a dealer auction is through going online. Online auctions are accessible through websites such as eBay Motors(www.eBay.com), Salvage Bid(www.SalvageBid.com), Auto Auction Mall (www.AutoAuctionMall.com), Copart (www.Copart.com) and IAAI(www.IAAI.com)
How do you Handle Stress and Anxiety While Car Shopping?
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Social Media is a big part of 21st century life. Using it has brought benefits to its users, however using social media has a lot of negative effects including social isolation, anxiety and depression.
In this week’s blog I’ll be discussing how to handle negativity on social media.
What is Social Media?
Websites and applications that enable users to participate in a social network or enable users to create and share content.
What are the different types of social media?
There are many types of social media including:
Social Networks: Websites that enable users to communicate with each other by posting information, comments, images and messages.
Micro blogging: Sites that enable anyone to post comments to a micro blog that attracts an audience.
Photo Sharing: Sites that enable users to share digital photos online.
Video Sharing: Online video platforms such as YouTube enable users to upload, convert, store and playback video content on the internet.
What is social media used for?
The purpose of social media platforms are to help users connect, share and give information and connect with millions of other users. It’s important not to ignore social media, since it is an important part of our lives today.
Social media platforms include many social components that include the common fields that you share with other users. In business, social media is used to market products and promote brands. Almost 80% of small businesses use social media to attract new customers and it can also help you validate your brand.
It’s estimated that 3.5 billion people worldwide use social media. That’s 45% of the world’s population. As of 2019 an additional 360 million people started using social media.
What are the advantages of social media use?
Marketing Tool: Social media can be used for marketing a business. Since so many adults use social media it is a great opportunity to get leads.
Self Education: Social media platforms such as YouTube have revolutionized how we educate ourselves. Whether it’s a video blog (vlog) or an instructional video posted by a college professor social media has changed how we learn.
Build Relationships: At its root the purpose of social media is about connecting people to people. From a professional standpoint is used tremendously to connect with colleagues, mentors, role models and other professionals. As you build these relationships there are opportunities to tap into new networks that may open up new opportunities.
Share your Expertise: Social media is a great opportunity to talk about what you know. Sharing your expertise can attract potential professional and personal connections.
What are the negative effects of social media?
Depression and Anxiety: A major consequence of social media is the rise in the number of users who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. This may sound paradoxical that social media is intended to connect people to people, but at the same time perpetuate depression and anxiety through feeling of disconnection and loneliness.
Cyberbullying: A person can be bullied by another person on social media by sending messages that are intimidating or threatening.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): We all get anxious when we see something more exciting or interesting going on in someone else’s life. Along with feeling anxious we can feel jealous and angry when we think we’re missing out.
Internet Addiction: Overtime the use of social media can turn into an addiction.
Unhealthy sleep patterns: The overuse of social media via electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets can disrupt your circadian rhythm by tricking your body into thinking the sun is still out and not product melatonin.
Negative body image: Social media can cause a user to have a negative or distorted body image as they start comparing themselves with other users.
Unrealistic expectations about life: Social media is something many people now rely on for receiving validation about their lives. Social media paints a picture of what life should be like and we become addicted to posting the perfect post in order to receive likes.
The spread of misinformation: Many people already feel depressed and anxious watching the news. Due to the spreading of misinformation from a news outlet embellishing a story to get ratings and users posting misinformation on social media. People are now more depressed and anxious than ever before when they turn the news on, because they’re not sure about whether the story is real or not.
How to deal with Negativity?
The negative effects of social listed above can have a detrimental effect on many users. This has resulted in the rise of cyber bullies called trolls.
What is a Troll?
A Troll is an internet slag term that describes a person that starts quarrels or upsets people on social media by posting inflammatory and generally off topic messages with the intent of provoking negative responses from readers.
Once you have a presence on social media, it’s really hard to totally avoid negative reviews and comments whether they’re written by a Troll or not. I’ve learned through experience that it’s important that negativity is handled in a way that it won’t escalate.
When negativity escalates on social media it can have a long lasting impact on your brand. I’ve learned through participating in Facebook forums that negativity can quickly get out of hand if you are dealing with a cyberbully that’s trying to bait you. How you respond makes a difference, if you give in to the baiting and respond in the wrong way you may attract more negative people that will hurt your brand.
I personally feel less anxious when I don’t get involved with negativity.
Here are some tips for handling negativity on social media:
Be empathetic: Learn to recognize that the negative person may be going through something and use social media to vent their problems. Learn how to see things from their point of view.
Acknowledge the issue: Before the situation escalates it’s important to acknowledge the issue that’s causing someone to be negative. If it’s being caused by something you’ve done or someone is not satisfied with a product you’re offering take responsibility for it and apologize.
Offer a solution: A negative person may be feeling helpless, scared and frustrated. Offering a solution can help keep a negative situation from spiraling out of control.
Take it offline: Talk to the negative person privately through private messaging.
Ban or block them: In a worse case scenario if all options were considered and the negativity continues to escalate out of control you may have to ban or block that person.