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An image of Hayley - Valleys Steps Wellbeing Practitioner

Mindfulness and Social Media

If you’re like me, you might have noticed it’s becoming harder to go about your day without being bombarded by stressful information from all directions – the news, social media, TV and magazines (to name a few!).

We’re constantly being told about all the bad news going on in the world; that we should be doing something to solve the world’s problems (and if we don’t then we’re lazy or thoughtless); that we should agree with this person and be totally against that person. It’s possible that we live in a time where people are more divided than ever.

We’re told we should be more like our favourite influencers or celebrities, our lives should be more exciting, we should use this or that brand, we should have busy, full lives and be able to fit everything in, while always looking glamorous and our houses immaculate.

I have at various points found myself under pressure to live up to these messages; buying or doing things I thought would make my life better. Or I’ve felt very low or anxious because I realised I couldn’t achieve it (or I did achieve it but it didn’t make me happy). I’ve found myself consumed by anger over provocative topics, arguing with my loved ones because we took different sides on whatever the controversial topic of that week was. The pressure and the anger would eventually lead to me feeling hopeless and disconnected from the world around me.

But if I take a step back, I suddenly see that these messages don’t reflect what I really want or what I truly value.

Is it possible that my attention has been hi-jacked by these messages? Has this led to me making choices I wouldn’t have made if I had been more mindful of where I was spending my attention, and more mindful of who I want to be?

I recently learned about how living more mindfully can help us reclaim our attention from this type of influence, so we can make choices that help us stay true to who we are and what’s important to us.

For me, reclaiming my attention means noticing how I feel when I come across information and consciously choosing not to engage with it if it’s something that’s not going to be good for my wellbeing. This isn’t to say I completely ignore news going on in the world, but I am more mindful of how I view the news and the time I spend on this. Reclaiming my attention means hiding advertising posts from certain pages and deleting certain apps. It means no more aimless scrolling on social media – this is where I felt I was most vulnerable to my attention being hi-jacked.

Reclaiming my attention means being aware of my values, being mindful of where my attention goes and (as much as possible) consciously directing my attention, choices and actions towards what will take me closer to living by those values. I’ve found that mindfulness skills have been so important in helping me to do this.

I’ve heard people say that in this world where there is so much competition to influence us, our attention is the most valuable thing we have. We must make sure to spend it wisely and invest in ourselves.

What are your values? Could mindfulness skills help you reclaim your attention when it gets hi-jacked and help you stay true to yourself?

 

By Hayley Williams

Wellbeing Course Practitioner