By Mayisha Siddiqui
I know technology and anxiety release seem like two profoundly paradoxical terms. However, after spending the better part of the last two years at home, inevitably killing time on all of my devices, I’ve realized that technology has brought more good into my life than bad. The criticism towards tech and social media never ends, but as I learn to consume with more consciousness, I want to share a different angle with you.
I started working remotely in February 2020 when the pandemic first hit, and the New York City sun set at 4 p.m. daily. Back then, I was working as a marketing lead at a small company that later furloughed most of its employees. I felt especially alone, as my family members were back in China and Bangladesh. We were busy fighting the risk of a new virus while not being able to see each other because of closed international borders. I struggled to manage my feelings of worry, both about my job and my parents overseas, and overall found myself feeling sluggish, uneasy, and irritable.
Although seemingly ironic, social media was my first saving grace during this period, as it further connected me to other tech-based methods to help gain more anxiety awareness. In the beginning, I’d be on social platforms solely to see how my friends were doing during isolation. But what I’ve found along the way—besides the fact that I’m not alone, drowning in my anxiety—is a thriving creator community that continues to inspire me. Whether it’s on TikTok or Instagram, regular people with normal jobs—like me—have been sharing more and more on the things they’re passionate about while in lockdown.
Sometimes they are vulnerably communicating a range of raw emotions that resonate with so many of us, as we now all share a common experience that has altered our lives. It’s been eye-opening to see these intimate, behind-the-scenes thoughts and talents showcased authentically on social media. James loves coffee, but his local coffee shop closed down, so he’s learning to make his own caffeinated drinks and sharing his recipes daily through quirky videos. Fed up with working from home, Rayshid began making comical content that pokes fun at how his co-workers speak on zoom calls, which resonates with the internet. Terry is a therapist, but since she can’t see clients in person anymore, she’s decided to migrate her business online, where she now gives free mental health tips to all of us via Instagram.
Using just my phone and laptop, I found these people growing their online communities while sharing their true selves and talking about the things they love. I felt inspired to reevaluate my current condition and asked myself a series of questions: “What can I do to manage my anxiety triggers? How can I channel my anxiety into something productive that feels good to me? What is something I’d like to share but never have?” Those triggers turned out to be a boldly-colored, cluttered home and a job that I didn’t fully enjoy. So, I replaced much of my furniture with calm, neutral tones, did a minimalist cleanse at home, and started to post online about the things I’ve been passionate about but always stopped myself from sharing—photography, fashion, interior design, and jewelry.
What I discovered on social media encouraged me to take this time to focus on myself by prioritizing my inner healing and rest. While there are plenty of apps for this exact purpose, I found a few that I really enjoy. Specifically, while on YouTube, I was prompted to watch a video about an app that could guide me through the basic techniques of meditation using a daily, 10-minute audio. This video was my very first introduction to meditation and emotional awareness, and it helped me realize I don’t always need to be active or working. Sometimes, I need to be mindful of my body and what brings me emotional comfort.
I also signed up for a platform that matched me with an online therapist tailored to my needs. I have worked with a therapist for a few sessions to address the anxiety I’ve been experiencing, and it has helped immensely to learn about how the disorder works. I continued to delve deeper into technology to support my mind and body. When a wellness blogger guided me through a free yoga session, I started to accept the fact that while I hate the intensity of gyms, I don’t mind at-home mat workouts. Both teletherapy and online fitness have become my stress outlets when I feel overwhelmed, and they all remind me to breathe and pause.
Using meditation apps, starting online therapy, and utilizing social media more wisely (by reevaluating who I choose to follow) have all helped me to improve my self-awareness and overall wellbeing. When I look back at the past few years, I realize that, in a variety of ways, technology has helped me stabilize my mental health. So many good things—like starting my own social page, developing my own brand, and acquiring proven ways to deal with my anxiety—would not have happened without technology. Overall, it has helped me be more accepting of myself and, thus, more at peace. I’ve learned so much about myself since starting this journey, and I hope others will experience similar benefits from technology too.
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