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Arija Helmvee: Social media is aggravating our anxiety


What does personal well-being mean to you? 

For me it is about feeling good: I feel great when I am not having a stressful period, I haven’t eaten McDonalds for five days in a row and I am surrounded by people with the same energy level. It is important to me that everything surrounding me is organised and I have control over things, that makes me feel more confident. A lot depends on the people around me. For example, when we want to go clubbing with friends, but while we are getting ready it appears that one of my friends actually doesn’t want to go and her energy level does not agree with mine, then it spoils my mood as well.

Does physical activity also impact your sense of well-being? 

According to doctor’s orders I am supposed to go running, but I don’t. I don’t exercise at all. Actually I should move myself more, because being on the phone all the time causes also anxiety and physical exercise should help to reduce that. When you put your phone down and go outside then your body will feel much better afterwards. And, well, I am also hunchbacked from all this sitting with my phone and computer.

Why does constant social media use create anxiety? 

You can control your life on the phone: you can hide all content that you don’t want to consume at the moment. When I am in a bad mood I’d rather go to TikTok and forget about my worries in the real world. But then you have to return to the real world eventually and here you are not the centre of anything. And it is difficult for your brain to understand what is real and what is not after staring at the screen for 12 hours. In a word the phone is the root of all evil and we should all revert back to Nokia 3310 with buttons.

You have however made social media your job. How do you keep balance between mental well-being and work? 

I have acknowledged that it is a problem. And that is a great beginning when we can acknowledge our problems. When I feel that I am like a zombie on my phone and cannot concentrate any more then I force myself to put my phone away and look for something else to do to break this cycle.

What other activities bring you joy, what else do you do besides social media? 

Taking care of myself is important to me. I do all my beauty treatments myself: nails, hair, facial care, etc. Once I used to visit nail technicians, but after a terrible experience when my long nails were cut down and turned ugly and lopsided I cried for days and felt terrible. I was afraid of going to another nail technician, so I started to learn it myself. I have learned to do all beauty treatments and I enjoy it. I also paint for example textile bags and artistic self expression soothes me in general.

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