Reading is so important. It has always been a source of education and growth for me. Sitting down with a good book is often my escape. In relaxing with a book, we are often afforded the time to digest what we have read. The words on the page are very much like the food that we eat. If we choose to eat the right foods we will grow and become stronger, but if we choose to consume junk, the opposite will happen.
In the office this week, I have had several conversations with patients about their concerns about the things that they see and read on social media. During these conversations, it dawned on me that a good book, is like that nutritious meal that helps us to grow as a human, but scrolling through social media and simply focusing on the headlines is the equivalent of skipping that well-balanced meal and instead sitting down to eat a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. You get more calories than you would normally eat in a whole meal, but none of the nutrients that you need. It may make you feel good at that moment, but the damage that it is doing to your mind and body is significant.
One college-aged patient told me that she had recently removed all social media apps from her phone. After the shock passed, I asked her why she made that decision. For most young adults, social media is a significant portion of their connection to their peers. For many young Americans, that connection may be beneficial, but for others, the tendency to compare their own everyday lives to the best moments of someone else's life is often more damaging than anything. This particular young woman explained to me that she noticed that her completely subconscious comparisons were leading her to feel depressed and anxious. We should not be experiencing those lows simply because our friends have been sharing pictures of themselves doing fun stuff. That subconscious reaction is completely out of our control, so why do we choose to expose ourselves to the potential negative impact on our mental health?
This week, several conversations with older patients about information that patients have gathered from social media again opened my eyes to the toxic nature of many of these social media sites. Most of the information and conversation were centered on the political division in our country right now. We discussed how important it is to know your sources. Unfortunately, the idea of "fact-checking" has a negative connotation for many. But it is so important that we find verified sources of facts that we can trust.
Hearing both of these stories reminded me just how much I enjoy my books!
Feed your brain!
Put your phone down and pick up a book!
Movement is my medicine,