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Is social media all smoke and mirrors?

Thanks to technology, we are more connected than ever, but how much connection is too much? Good Tech Columnist Hemma Vara investigates.

Multiple studies suggest that heavy social media use can increase anxiety, loneliness and depression, and can cause inadequate feelings about our lives or appearances. Here are some timely reminders about social media to assist our mental wellbeing and beat our virtual addictions. 

Keep it in perspective. The internet is a place where we can be anything we want to be. We can be an e-commerce entrepreneur one day, and a motivational speaker the next. We curate social media feeds to show what we want, and hide what we don’t want others to see. But the same is true for everyone else. Just think; when did you last see an untidy room or a blemished face online? Take everything you see with a grain of salt. 

Do you really want to be Insta-famous? Influencers look like they have it all, but behind the scenes are the staged photo shoots, bought followers, and inauthentic paid-for product reviews. Follow those who you perceive to have integrity and authenticity, bypassing the smoke and mirrors. There are some amazing thought leaders and inspiring movements out there waiting for you.

We exist for more than likes on a post. Post a picture on social media on a whim, completely unfiltered and non-curated, and feel the freedom you rebel! Your social media feed is for you, not for your internet acquaintances. You also don’t need to let everyone in; it’s OK to keep your profile private for your nearest and dearest only. 

Does social media bring you joy? It’s ok to go off the grid and delete your accounts entirely. If you have FOMO, was mindlessly scrolling your cousin’s auntie’s neighbour’s dog’s Instagram feed or watching a celebrity vacuum their house with the latest gadget worth it? We think you know the answer already. 

Life is more meaningful than a series of online exchanges. Avoid your phone first thing in the morning and before you go to bed. Mute those work emails, and don’t feel the need to instantly reply to texts. The world can wait; nothing will happen. Boundaries are a form of self-respect and care. 

With this in mind, here are some Good Apps that we love because they benefit our minds and bring us bliss. However, sometimes the best app is no app at all. If it doesn’t bring you joy, turn it off. 

Insight Timer is a library of free audio recordings to help with stress, anxiety, and sleep. Some of our favourite New Zealand wellness guides are on InsightTimer– we recommend you check out Hannah Crerar’s yoga nidra (sleep yoga) recordings and Sophie Correia’s meditations. Both have soothing voices, and will have you coming back for more.

Breathe Apps are available on both the Google Play and  Apple app stores, for use on your phone or smartwatch. These free apps use taps or vibrations to hone your breathing. Regularly breathing with a breathing app can help you to keep your calm, lower your blood pressure, and decrease your cortisol levels. Try it for a month and see how you feel.

The Muse App  is designed to pair with the Muse headband. It’s futuristic and on the expensive side, but the technology gives you real-time feedback about your meditation by translating your brain signals into the sounds of the weather. The more active your mind is, the louder the storm. It’s your very own personal assistant for your mind! 

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