I don’t watch TV. If I do, it’s a cooking show with my kids or a Sunday Night family movie. I’m a WEB girl. I like to learn, connect and create! Today, I realised that I have been allowing some unhealthy online habits to creep back in, habits that really do a number on my peace and my mental health.
Today, I clicked on a news article. I wanted to find out how something so horrible could have happened. My curiosity and human nature drew me into a story I had a hard time getting out of. I found myself engulfed in the story, grieved by the specific details of the case and then sobbing in my pillow, feeling traumatised as if I were a first-hand witness. NOT COOL… Not Healthy. Yes, these kinds of news articles can traumatise your soul and mind and make you unhealthy. Be careful little eyes what you see…
Trust me, I am not one to walk around this life with a bag over my head to all the suffering in the world. In fact, I used to feel guilty for not paying more attention to the news. I should have been paying more attention to the suffering around the world, taking on causes and marching in protests. Then God burst my vigilante bubble when he said to me one day … “I said, love your neighbour Sarah” God began to challenge me to guard my heart and mind against the wars and tragedies of the world and focus my love and care for those he had placed into my life.
This world is so broken and I know today as I wept for the victim of this horrendous crime, that Jesus was weeping too. I could feel his grief and his anger too. I prayed for this victim’s redemption, I prayed for the evil one to suffer, I prayed for God to draw near. Then God reminded me to guard my mind.
At our fingertips, we have access to the world like never before. Not just news stories but false success stories that can make us jealous, products that can tempt us to spend, persuasions that can turn us away from God and more.
5 ONLINE HABITS THAT ARE MAKING YOU ANXIOUS
If you already struggle with mental health issues, I am warning you to really guard your online habits. They can severely be affecting your mental health whether you think it is or not. I could list 50 but let’s start with five.
- Online News – Ever play on one of those playground spinners as a kid, where you run beside it, spin it as hard as you can, jump on and hang on?! It is so fun, it sucks us in, then we’re nauseous and we can’t make it stop! The news is created to draw you in, make you feel like you need to know, that it’s important to you and nine times out of ten the news is designed to SCARE YOU. Seriously, there is not a lot of honest, unbiased reporting anymore. If the headline doesn’t make you fear your safety it doesn’t sell. If you struggle with anxiety I want to challenge you to one major change. STOP WATCHING< READING<LISTENING to the news. Tell your spouse, “if the world ends, let me know, other than that don’t share …did you hear about dada” Every time you expose your heart and soul to the stories of the enemy and his glory, he robs you. Spend time reading The Good News instead.
- Obsession over stats – If you’re a blogger like me, STATS are as distracting as a dog loose in a gopher museum. You may not be a blogger but you may have Instagram, or Snap Chat or Facebook and you may not realise you’re doing it but measuring your worth by your online status is very unhealthy.
- The Numbing Power – When you’re anxious and when you’re depressed and you just want a relief from your mind there is nothing more instantly gratifying than stopping to NUMB yourself with social media, Pinterest, gaming and so on. It’s okay from time to time but when your mind is craving peace and rest and you seek the numbing affect of social media and the web to make it all go away, that is making you sick. When this becomes your thing, the escape, the drug to numb your grief and pain and fears, God has no room to heal. Put down your phone and look up. Then check Facebook.
- The Online Crusader – This sounds creepy but I have a lot of friends on Facebook who struggle with anxiety, they just don’t know it – but I do. The people I know who struggle with anxiety are the first to tell you and ALL your friends what BAND WAGON, whether health, political, parenting etc you should jump on. They’re pushy, always creating a cause, posting scary awareness posts (radioactive bug found in Walmart bananas!) and posting beheading pictures from Christian news articles. You can’t change the world through Facebook but you can change it by focusing on your neighbours and taking care of your own mental health.
- Unhealthy support groups– I belong to a quite a few anxiety and depression forums and groups. This helps me reach out to those who need help and stay connected to what the needs are. BUT I had to drop out of a couple of groups because THEY WERE MAKING ME DEPRESSED!!!!!!!!!! These were Christian sites too!!! Misery LOOOOOVVVVVEEES company. In my online support group, I make it very clear that it’s about moving forward. One group, in particular, was a support group for those struggling with religious OCD. I was heartbroken and only lasted a week in that group because the atmosphere was so unhealthy and toxic. I won’t go into detail but the advice that was being thrown around was akin to having a weight loss support group where people posted consistently about bacon and how to deep fry delicious food! You have to be very careful of the atmosphere of support groups. If it’s filled with people sharing their anxieties and there is no hope or solution or sound counsel, then run. Find a group that is challenging, pushing you and filled with grace.
Your mental health is at your fingertips. The decisions you make every day can increase or decrease your symptoms. No one can guard your mind for you, that is a serious responsibility that you have to take. Are there any other bad mental health online habits that I’m missing? Share your thoughts in the comments!