The impact of social media on chronic health conditions (that may also affect your business)

Before we begin, please note that this information has been collected and curated through personal experience, not medical expertise. If you believe you are suffering from a chronic health condition, this blog post aims to help you reduce symptoms as you work with your healthcare team to find further solutions. In my experience, there is no quick-fix cure for chronic illnesses of many kinds, but through lifestyle change, dedication to health and self-care, I have managed to reduce my symptoms and gradually gain back some control over my health. I am in no way an expert in the field but have a genuine lived experience and wish to share that with those it may help.

I also want to mention that this information doesn’t just apply to social media, it applies to all digital platforms, including YouTube, Tiktok, Netflix and the like.

A little back story:

As a kid, I remember often mentioning pain, but then the adults around me would say things like, “she’s a hypochondriac” and “she is just doing it for attention”. So, I learned very quickly in life to just bury how I felt, which went on for a good 20 years or more. Then, a devastating accident left me with a crushed L4, L5 & S1 and my health took a turn for the worst, but yet again, I was made to feel (by doctors this time) that it was all in my head. Finally, I got to a point of just not wanting to keep going. Why fight when I couldn’t actually live, and do all the things I loved to do? So one day, I walked into a doctor’s office and told them that if they didn’t find out what was wrong with me, I was going to kill myself.

That is the cold hard truth of it! I did get to the point of attempting to end my life! Now I am glad I didn’t succeed – to anyone feeling like this, there is light at the end of the tunnel, so keep fighting.

The doctor I reached out to put me through hundreds of tests, bloodwork, exploratory surgeries, and testing medication. I didn’t know if I was Arthur or Martha most days. One day I went in to tell him that I wanted to go off the meds because I felt worse, but at that appointment, he was able to give me some answers. He diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, an incurable neurological disorder that causes widespread pain and discomfort. While this was not great news, believe it or not, the diagnosis actually gave me a sense of relief. Why? Because I WAS NOT CRAZY! I had a reason for the pain, a reason for the exhaustion and a reason for the 15 other symptoms I suffer from. That same day I went home and researched and found natural ways I could find further relief and wrap my head around what was going on in my body.

Fast forward three years and I am now living the best life I can while managing my symptoms. One thing I found has a huge effect on my fibro & exhaustion is social media. My job is as a digital marketer and social media content creator… so this realisation is kind of unlucky, right? Not so much! There are so many things you can do to minimise the effect social media has on you and your mental state. So, that is what this blog is all about, helping you find that sweet spot where you can enjoy social media and use it to run your business, but not allow it to affect you, or your chronic health condition, in a negative way.

The influence of social media on chronic health conditions:

  1. Mental health challenges: Constant exposure to carefully curated, idealised representations on social media can contribute to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression, which can worsen the symptoms of various chronic health conditions.
  2. Stress and fatigue: Excessive use of social media platforms can lead to information overload, disrupted sleep patterns, and contribute to increased stress levels. This can exacerbate symptoms and make it challenging to manage your health and well-being effectively.
  3. Sedentary lifestyle: Spending excessive time on social media often involves prolonged periods of sitting or lying down, which leaves you moving less and potentially adds to symptoms.
  4. Misinformation and self-diagnosis: Social media platforms are breeding grounds for misinformation. Individuals with chronic health conditions may come across misleading information, leading to self-diagnosis or ineffective treatments that can worsen their condition.

How does this impact your business?

  1. Reduced productivity: Increased time spent on social media can lead to distractions and decreased productivity. This can affect your business operations, delay important tasks, and hinder overall business and personal growth.
  2. Missed opportunities: Becoming overly engaged in social media can result in missed networking opportunities, business leads, and valuable connections in the real world, all of which are crucial for business success.
  3. Reduced motivation: Mental overload, poor sleep and feelings of overwhelm can greatly reduce your capacity to actively work on and in your business. You may feel like you are ‘treading water’ instead of moving forward, which further exacerbates declining mood and energy.

Tips for managing chronic health conditions effectively:

  1. Set realistic boundaries: Establish boundaries for social media usage and designate specific times for checking your accounts. This will help you balance your online presence with your health and business priorities.
  2. Practice mindfulness and self-care: Engage in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or hobbies that bring you joy. Prioritise self-care to support your overall well-being and manage chronic health conditions effectively. Regular breaks can do wonders for productivity and energy afterwards – it is in no way a waste of time, in fact, it is an essential use of time!
  3. Seek reliable information: Consult trusted medical professionals for accurate information about your condition and treatments. Avoid self-diagnosis based on social media content and rely on credible sources to make informed decisions. I have provided a link below to a podcast I recommend to fellow chronic health sufferers. While the information may not work for all, the podcast’s theory has helped me make headway in my recovery over the past 12 months.
  4. Create a supportive network: Surround yourself with individuals who understand and support your health journey. Join online communities or support groups specifically tailored to your chronic health condition that safely allow you to connect with others who share similar experiences (I have shared my recommended support group below).

Reducing social media screen time:

  1. Set usage goals: Determine how much time you are willing to spend on social media each day and set specific goals to gradually reduce that time. Utilise apps or features that track your usage and provide reminders to switch off. These are already on most phones under the health and wellbeing section in the settings.
  2. Unfollow negative triggers and people: Unfollow accounts that promote unrealistic expectations, negative comparisons, or content that adversely impacts your mental health. Instead, curate your feed with positive and uplifting content (see a link below for tips).
  3. Engage in offline activities: Prioritise activities that promote physical movement, mental stimulation, and face-to-face interactions. Explore hobbies, spend time with loved ones, or engage in outdoor activities that provide a break from the digital world.
  4. Designate tech-free zones where you sleep: This is really important in your recovery! Remove the TV from your bedroom, charge your phone in the kitchen and get rid of any other digital devices around your bed. If you struggle to sleep, try meditation (such as the one recommended below). Meditation does not have to be a perfect practice, just give it a go and focus on your breath. I play meditations through a Google speaker so I can also leave my phone outside the room.

One of the last things I want to say is that perfection doesn’t exist, just strive to do your best for today, and tomorrow you can do a little better! Don’t punish yourself or beat yourself up if you “fail” – just pick yourself up and move forward. One day you will wake up and think, “wow I feel great!”, remember that light at the end of the tunnel.

This blog is just a piece of the chronic illness recovery puzzle, but there are many more little things you can implement in your daily life to help you gradually feel better. For more tips and information, visit the website below. This program is said to have the best recovery rate for chronic health conditions in the world. I am not an affiliate, I just truly believe in their methodology and have found so much help and guidance here.

While social media has its merits, it is essential to be aware of its potential impact on chronic health conditions and your business. By effectively managing your health, setting boundaries, and reducing screen time, you can strike a balance that allows you to thrive personally and professionally. Remember, your well-being should always be a priority, and moderation is key in navigating the digital landscape.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with healthcare professionals for personalised guidance regarding your chronic health conditions.