Facebook, Loneliness and the Human Connection

August 16, 2013

Did you see the recent BBC article about Facebook & loneliness? Researchers are out with a new study that suggests using Facebook is related to reduced well-being and life satisfaction for young adults. The researchers noted, "On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it."

Here are a few thoughts from us here at 7 Cups of Tea:

Beware when you Compare

We have a tendency to compare ourselves with others. Facebook makes it easy to "keep up with the Joneses," to see where others are in their lives, what they're up to on a daily basis, and with whom they're interacting frequently. Generally speaking, comparing yourself with another person can lead to feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and frustration. Comparing yourself to people on Facebook is even worse. Why? Because of a little something called gatekeeping. Gatekeeping means we're all our own best editors and publicists, showing the world just what we want them to see, when we think they should see it. It's been said that people on Facebook only get married, have babies, get promoted, and go on cruises. The truth is, your friends on Facebook have the same daily challenges and frustrations you have. They just may or may not display them online.

 

Surround Yourself with Strong, Positive Vibes

"If your friends go to jail, you go to jail. If your friends go to Yale, you go to Yale." This is an old saying that suggests those with whom we surround ourselves MATTER. We exist within a real social network made up of flesh and blood, bodies, hearts and minds. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle. Draw lines connecting you to your friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers and others in your community. When someone in your circle is affected by a life event, good or bad, you'll feel a tug on that line because of your direct connection. The more you surround yourself with positive people moving onwards and upwards, the more you'll feel uplifted. 

 

Facebook is Not an Emotional Soapbox

It can be challenging to get emotional support on Facebook. If you share that you are struggling on Facebook, it can be difficult for your friends and family to support you openly and honestly. Even though you pick your Facebook friends, it still can be considered a public forum. If you expect a response to a particular status update, you're expecting that your connections are OK with their response being displayed to your network. Not everyone is OK with this, and not all of your connections know and feel comfortable sharing with one another. Think of it like having a loud intimate conversation in front of a group of people and their friends. For some, these displays of emotion are awkward and off putting.

 

At 7 Cups of Tea, we know that connecting through social networks is as powerful a medium of communication as radio, TV, books, and spoken word. We know that the internet is an amazing and essential part of living a modern, connected life. But we also know that every person has unique experiences, concerns, worries, and frustrations. So while Facebook is a great place to share with friends en masse, sometimes you just need to talk to someone one-on-one. 

 

Tags:Facebooklonelinesstechnologyinternetcommunicationsocial networks

A Holistic Approach to Stress Management

August 12, 2013
Today's post comes from our distinguished guest writer, Natasha Tracy. Natasha is the author of the Bipolar Burble, a blog about mental health and her personal experiences in managing Bipolar Disorder. She's an award-winning and influential writer, mental health advocate and self-professed "professional crazy person." Welcome Natasha!

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Stress is a fact of life. Whether it’s arguing with your significant other, worrying over a final exam at school, or frustrated by how to discipline an unruly teen, stress happens and it happens to everyone.

While stress is a normal human reaction to some situations, some might argue that it can be an overreaction to regular events in our everyday lives. And that’s too bad because stress is not just a pain in the mind; it can also manifest as a pain in the body too. High blood pressure, stomach ulcers and immune deficiency are just a few of the problems associated with stress.

How can you tame everyday stress and avoid the negative, physical consequences of a constantly stressful life?

 

Recognize that Stress Can Be a Habit

Understand that many people are in the habit of being stressed out. There are actually certain benefits to this psychologically. For example, some might feel that they're more dedicated to their work if they’re visibly stressed about it. And most of us, having seen others like our parents stressed, internalize that kind of behavior as an appropriate way of being, even when we recognize it as harmful.

 

Identify the Stress in Your Life

The first step in dealing with our own stress reactions is to recognize we all have them. Identify what causes stress and what reactions you have. Perhaps a person feels stressed when they come home to an apartment where the dishes aren’t done and the children’s toys are all over the floor. Perhaps a partner in a relationship feels stressed when their sexual needs aren’t being met. Each person’s stressors are different and how stress manifests is often individual as well. It may result in irritation, frustration, an upset stomach or a headache. Writing down each stressor and the resultant physical and psychological symptoms of stress can help you get an accurate picture of stress in your life.

 

Manage Stress Directly with Obvious (and Less Obvious) Responses

Once you’ve identified the stressors and your reactions to them, it’s much easier to get a handle on how to deal with the root causes. Solutions start to become more apparent, if not right in front of your nose. If a messy home is particularly distressing, hiring a cleaner twice a week or creating a chore schedule might be the answer. If you’re finding some element of your relationship unsettling, working to develop an open and honest communication habit is likely the answer. And, of course, professionals like therapists can help you come up with effective coping techniques.

 

Easy Tips on Managing Stress

Taking good care of yourself is also key to keeping stress at bay. Try:

  • Drinking more water – people are often chronically dehydrated and this can worsen feelings of stress
  • Eating well – diets high in fiber and low in saturated fat can improve overall mood. A balanced diet will contain vitamins like B vitamins, known to prevent mood disorders
  • Relaxation exercises – learning to deep breath, do relaxation exercises or yoga can help relieve the physical symptoms of stress


References:

The Brain From Top to Bottom: Managing Stress, McGill University

4 Easy Stress Management Strategies, Psychology Today

Tags:Natasha TracyBipolar BurbleStressStress ManagementAnxietyTips