Remember that Seinfeld episode where the gang is trying to coordinate seeing a movie together, but their lack of connectivity causes them to lose track of one another? That predicament is nearly impossible today thanks to a ubiquitous reliance on cell phones that connect us and allow us near instant access to information about our friends and family. Add the additional layer of social media, and our access to and anxiety over keeping up with our friends and family is almost greater than ever.

With our cell phones providing everyone in our lives a portal to our personal space and social media being a medium for people to share and plan goings on in their lives, we’ve perhaps never been more connected than we are now. While one could make an argument for why this is good, there are certainly some valid reasons for why it is not. This constant access means our time to ourselves is minimized. Will you get a call in the middle of that new film? Will your boss ask you to check an email they sent you while you’re on vacation? Not only can the actual inconvenience of these possibilities cause anxiety, the simple possibility of them occurring does too.

While social media is a great source for good and a great way to stay connected with our loved ones, it can also be detrimental. Seeing our friends and family living life, going out, and doing things can give us a sense that we’re somehow not doing enough or perhaps missing out on what life has to offer. It can create the illusion that everyone is out shopping, visiting theme parks, getting dinner or on vacation. This can add to our anxiety and cause us to do or commit to things we didn’t necessarily want to do, all because we want to ensure we’re doing as much or more than everyone else.

This perception and the commitments that result can have adverse effects on one’s health. It is well documented that things like “Social Media Anxiety Disorder” and the “Fear of Missing Out”(FOMO) exist and are have adverse effects on people’s mental health. They can cause us to perceive that which is not true and say “yes” to things we really want to say “no” to.

One thing that can help us deal with this modern day concern is to learn to say “NO”. Here’s how to do that:

• Say No By Disconnecting: Turn off your phone during important events or when you’re spending time with family. Turn it off when you’re seeing a film or when you’re doing something important to YOU. Be present and don’t worry about what others are doing.
• Say No to FOMO: Be honest with yourself. Your friends aren’t all out having fun all the time. Just like you they’re spending time alone at home with a good book perhaps, trying to enjoy some time to themselves. You don’t always have to accept invitations if you don’t want to.
• Just Say NO: The next time you’re invited to something and you feel pressured to say yes, just take a deep breath and say “No.” Be polite. Be courteous. Thank them for the invite. But realize that you can always accept their next invitation or even invite them somewhere yourself.
• Create Clear Boundaries: When it comes to your job, let your boss know that you’ll be leaving your phone behind and won’t have access to your email while you’re on vacation. Let them know that you’re looking to “sharpen your saw” on your trip and that requires you to disconnect.
Our modern technology solves many problems, but it can also create them as well. It is up to us to take control of our minds and have the strength to not make commitments we’re not comfortable making. So the next time you want to say “no”, do what is right for you and say it.

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