Can social media contribute to your daily stress?
I’ve been extra stressed out lately. As you saw in my last blog post, I quit my job. While I did quit for an exciting reason, that doesn’t mean it’s not stressful. Add in some other personal stressors and I was really over it. I did try a few things to help lessen my load, such as mediation/breathing exercises, long baths, and working out. Those things did help, but it wasn’t enough. So, what did I do? I did some Googling and reading. One recurring idea that I had not tried was limiting social media time. I didn’t think social media was stressing me out at all, but I gave social media fasting a shot. Jumping in feet first, I experimented. I discovered that social media, without a doubt, added to my stress load.
In my normal life I am on social media, particularly Facebook, all the time. It has become such a routine part of my life that I subconsciously click on the Facebook app on my phone. I’m scrolling through posts before I even realize what I’m doing. Shoot, I’ll even look at and scroll through posts that I’ve seen already before! Why?!
Since I was so far gone into this social media addiction I decided I needed to take a drastic step to decrease my time spent on it and get off of it completely. I thought 10 days would be a good start. I removed Facebook, Nextdoor, and Instagram from my phone. The strangest part of day one was how many times I would automatically attempt to click on the Facebook app icon that was no longer there. However, day one was also the most exhilarating and freeing day. I felt immensely better by day two. It was so liberating to be away from it.
Why does social media stress us out? My thoughts on it are more about my subconscious than anything I was actually engaging with. How many political posts do you see these days? How many sad news stories do you find? Wouldn’t you say a good amount of the things you see on social media are less than uplifting or joyful? I like to think I surround myself with people with a positive outlook on life, but you still get posts thrown in with a negative vibe.
The kicker: I don’t think you even have to engage with these stressful posts for it to negatively affect you. I used to “just keep scrolling”, but you have to see or read enough to get context clues that it is not a happy post to then make a decision to keep scrolling. It could be a headline, photo, an emoji, something has to alert you to it’s tone. I’ll be the first to say that the second I see a photo of any political figure, whether I am for or against them, my stress level goes up. So, it’s not just the act of engaging in debate or reading through intense articles that can stress you out. Seeing tiny snippets of information, on a platform who’s sole purpose it to quickly distribute tons of information, add up. One small stressor repeated over and over again makes for one large, heaping pile of stress.
For the rest of my experiment in staying off social media for ten days, I definitely can’t say I did it perfectly, but I’d bet I decreased my time on social media by ninety percent. We can not regulate what people post on social media. We can only control how we interact and react to different situations. I still love social media, it helps me keep in contact with friends and family all over the world whom I’d otherwise lose contact with.
What I have learned and decided to do with my social media life is to use it for a more specific purpose and stop browsing. I don’t scroll through my newsfeed nearly as often. Instead I pick specific people or pages I want to “get an update on” and I go directly to their profile. This way I bypass all of the things my friends have “liked” or commented on and just get down to what they’ve posted. Most of the time it’s pictures of their children, vacations, and updates on their lives. This stops the bombardment of tiny stressors and has really changed my attitude and mental well being.
What do you think? How do you keep social media from stressing you out?