Surviving Social Media When You Have Anxiety: How I Do + How You Can [VIDEO]

emily ehlers survive social media anxietyI was inspired to film this video yesterday just a few minutes after I was interviewed by a lovely lady a few oceans away.

Our chat was meant to focus on all things social media, solopreneurship and blogging (and it did!) but I also noticed a very clear theme to my answers. Like a shopping trolley with a bung wheel whenever the conversation would steer in a different direction, there I was veering left and straight into the cat litter aisle (my affectionate nickname for anxiety/panic attacks).

See, I have anxiety. Generalised Anxiety Disorder to be precise. I’m not alone.

In fact, as of a recent poll 14% of the Australian population join me for the tight-chested tango. That’s 3.4 million of us – not to mention a significant increase from the 1.3 million (9.7%) of 1997. It’s a trajectory predicted to continue.

So if there’s so many of us going through the same thing – then why do I tend to feel so alone when I’m going through a “patch”?

My answer? Because we don’t see many people talking about it. Sure, there are headlines. I cheer on the dedicated organisations fighting the black dog. I see the disclaimers at the bottom of related news articles. I know the statistics. But this – to me anyway – is not relatable.

I want to know the stories from people I know or trust or admire or see bits of myself in or can connect with. Insights into the weird and wonderfully diverse range of humans that manage their lives, families, work and creativity alongside their anxiety.

The saying goes that if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

So I’m going to share more stories in a hope that it opens up a conversation and greater understanding of what anxiety looks and feels like.  and to provide ideas and hope to anyone experiencing this in their own life.

So let’s kick off with the very subject that prompted this whole topic…

How to survive social media when you have anxiety.

Social Media when not used with caution can be an absolute anxiety hot spot – especially when you have an online business, blog or personal brand.

Anxiety can manifest in a lot of people (me included) as super-sensitivity and hyper-awareness of how you are perceived. This is where social media gets tricky.

For example, I was once at a dinner party when I had a panic attack. I started to sink into my shoulders, stumble over my words and got overly apologetic about everything I said. Then I fashioned a hat out of tin foil which made me feel safer. That last bit isn’t true.

The point being, in-person with loved ones I could apologize. Leeway was given. Jokes that put me at ease were made (especially when I tried to ever-so discreetly check the pulse in my neck).

However online it’s a whole other kettle of freaked out fish. Online you send everything into the silence for the world to consume, reject, comment on, debate, share or ignore. When I’m rational this does not matter to me. When I’m not, the silence can be deafening. It can trigger a meltdown easier than Homer Simpson. Again – having instigated many conversations with friends, clients and mentors that work online – I am not alone in that.

If you can relate to that then I share some stories, tips and reminders in the video below. I hope you enjoy them and that they may help in some way. Also enjoy my jazz hands.

P.S. Due to the muse firmly grabbing me by the proverbial balls there are no bells or whistles or even washed hair. This video is as raw as the cake at a hippie wedding and there’s a lot more I could have added but as I didn’t – I’d LOVE to hear your own comments, stories, thoughts or questions below.

P.P.S. If you have friends with anxiety I would of course be gratefully if you shared this with them!

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  • Spot on video Emily 🙂
    I’ve been dealing with anxiety for most of my life, with big flare ups every couple of years during my 20s, and it’s tough. I started blogging in 2014 to share my anxiety experience, but along with the cathartic aspects of sharing online, it’s also created its fair share of anxiety too. Social media and the information overload that comes with it, are big triggers for my anxiety. I’ve had to take a step back this year, which has helped a lot. Thank you for adding your voice to this important issue – it’s so helpful to be reminded that I’m not alone in this.
    Much love, Rebecca x
    Rebecca recently posted…Interview with Sarah Kottman | Bright Young Mamas Interview SeriesMy Profile

  • Thank you for this video Emily! I can resonate all to well with all that you have said with anxiety. Totes know what bathroom breathing at work feels like 😉
    Anxiety for me has been a 5 year journey so far and like you said it peaks in times when my life or body needs some change or re-balancing.
    I think you hit the nail on the head with anxiety being a “super-sensitivity and hyper-awareness of how you are perceived” – I think this can be the major part of the problem too, it certainly is for me anyway. I often worry more of what people will think of me when I get anxious!
    I love what you said about not being broken and that you can still run an online blog or business even if you have anxiety. As someone who is super passionate about health and wellness, my anxious mind can make me feel like I can’t possibly promote health and wellness when I suffer with anxiety because I “should” be perfectly well. Rationally, and when I am not anxious, I know this is utter rubbish, but when I am anxious it seems the absolute truth.
    Anyway, I will save the essay and just say you’re amazing for bringing light to this topic. You have inspired and given me the balls to perhaps open up about it on my blog too, as I want more than anything for people going through it to know they are not alone and that they are still wonderful! xx

  • your vulnerability is a gift. Certainly to me right now as i struggle with anxiety and constant comparison to other. Thank you for giving me strength to keep going your video has helped me more than i can say, so thank you xx