Social Media Stress is Real: Here’s How to Avoid it

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Social media has a lot of benefits, such as open communication and bringing the world closer. However, even with its numerous uses, it can be cause for stress.

Most of us are aware that social media is somehow correlated to stress. But we just assume that the dangers are exaggerated. However, social media can absolutely be a source of stress.

The idealized image that people show on Instagram and Facebook is one major trigger.

After scrolling through photos of people standing next to Lamborghinis or on vacation in exotic places, it’s easy start comparing your life with everything you see on social media.

This leads to feelings of inadequacy and worrying that your life isn’t exciting enough. Pressure mounts and you also find yourself trying to present yourself in a way that doesn’t reflect reality.

Then there’s all the negative comments and hurtful messages plastered all over social media. While some people are able to write it off and ignore trolls, others are genuinely impacted by the hateful content people post. And that becomes a source of stress.

Also, feeling the need to post everything you’re doing on social media, and always having to be “on,” can cause high levels of stress and anxiety for some people.

Luckily, you don’t have to let the stress of social media consume your life. Here are some tips to avoid social media stress:

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1. Assess the way you’re using social media

Start by assessing your social media use. One of the major issues that causes stress on social media is constantly comparing yourself to others.

Social media creates a lot of pressure when it comes to lifestyle. Is what you’re seeing on social media making you spend hours trying to find something “good” to post? Identifying your feelings every time you log onto Facebook or Snapchat can help you pinpoint where the problem is.

How much have you accomplished in a day, even when on social media? Your social media engagement shouldn’t always revolve around the same things.

The beauty of social media is you’re free to choose the content you want to see. If you feel a specific person or post is contributing to your stress, you can block them or hide it. The less negativity you’re exposed to, the less stress you’ll experience.

2. Manage the time you spend on social media

There’s always so much to see and do on the Internet. So much that we might forget ourselves and end up spending too much time on it.

Just as you manage other aspects of your life, its important to manage your time online. Social media makes it easy to drift off your intended purpose and go through all kinds of content. Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour browsing through Instagram without even realizing it.

This can cause you to neglect other aspects of your life, inducing stress.

Multitasking while on social media also isn’t healthy. Tweeting or Snapping while doing other things like watching television induces stress. Research shows that people who have the highest level of media multitasking show a 70% increase in self reported depressive symptoms compared to low level multitaskers.

Its important to set a specific length of time for social media browsing. It will help you reduce your exposure to negative posts and idealized versions of others.

The less posts you see on how other people are living their lives, the less likely you are to get stressed. You can use a timer to time your log in throughout the day or even limit your posts.

If you’re seriously concerned with how much time you spend on social media, these apps can help monitor how much time you’re wasting and place some restrictions on yourself.

3. Use social media to learn

Social media has a lot to offer, and it can be positively beneficial to you. Ask yourself what kind of pages you follow and how they impact your life.

We miss out on the benefits of social media by constraining ourselves to the same negative things. Exposure to negative thoughts and posts are inevitable online. There’s always going to be that one friend who has a better online lifestyle. However it’s up to you to choose whether to engage these posts.

Instead of spending hours stalking your former classmates to compare your success, why not learn a new language? Or even be the positivity you seek and send someone a nice message.

By viewing positive and constructive information on social media, you’ll start to think more positively as well. Learning about things that increase your mindfulness decreases chances of you getting stressed.

4. Avoid online confrontations

One skill you need to have on social media is learning not to reply to some things. There is always someone who has some radical opinions, and is just out to start an online war.

It’s very easy to find yourself in the middle of an online argument, all it takes is a difference in opinion. We all have a right to our opinion, but we also have to be conscious of what is important.

Considering you’re trying to avoid stress, peace of mind is pretty important. When someone posts something you disagree with on social media, think about what you gain and lose emotionally by going back and forth with them.

People will rile you up by going against your opinion just because they’re bored and need some entertainment. Most arguments online end up being personal attacks when the other party has no facts.

Threats of bodily harm aren’t rare either. If anything, online arguments never end well no matter how well intentioned they began. Walking away and not engaging them is always the smart choice. Otherwise you’re just feeding into what they want.

However, if you can’t get away from these confrontations, probably because you work online, pick your battles wisely. Trolls who want to get a rise out of you are everywhere.

5. Unplug from social media

Before you run off in the other direction screaming because you just can’t survive without social media, give it a thought.

We’re not telling you to quit social media completely. It just means you have to take a prolonged break every now and then.  A social media detox of sorts.

It has been proven that these breaks from social media improve sleep, give you better self control, and make you focus on real life interactions with the people around you.

If going online is part of your everyday routine, reaching these benefits will be an uphill task at first, but ultimately worth it.

A social media detox will enable you to take a look at the things that are around you and develop a new appreciation. When you get back to your computer or phone, you’ll realize the world didn’t stop or notice you were even missing. It makes you get your priorities straight.

However, in some cases, professional therapy may be needed.

It’s not unusual to find that due to the constant exposure of social media, you may have developed an addiction.

It’s possible to develop serious depression or mental illness due to social media. Don’t be afraid to seek out professional help if social media is interfering with your daily life.

6. Be selective of your contacts

As we mentioned in the beginning, one of the biggest benefits of social media is it gives you the ability to stay in touch with people. And while that’s great, it also has its downsides.

Being constantly bombarded with messages and updates from people can be endearing, until its not.

Some people aren’t in your good books but decide to constantly message you without even considering what time it is. This is common among exes, they may take this opportunity to post or message you just to get a rise out of you. The emotions it stirs up in you can lead to stress, or even depression.

In order to avoid clogging up your feed and messages with people you don’t want to hear from, be selective about who you’re available to and when they can access you. Only give your social media contacts when you want to, and only follow people you actually care about.

You can always ignore the friend requests you’re not interested in. You can also set up a different account for work stuff where your colleagues can reach you and a personal one for family and friends.

Don’t Let Social Media Stress You Out

Social networking has its good points and its bad ones.

On the one hand, it allows you to keep up with what your friends are doing, and maintain long distance relationships. Plus it’s a good way to keep yourself entertained when you’re bored.

However we’ve seen that without careful use, you can end up a victim of stress and depression. It’s important to constantly check yourself and how you use social media. You’re the judge of the content you expose yourself to. Create healthy boundaries between yourself and social media.

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Additional Resources

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About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

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