April marks the beginning of the stress awareness month since 1922, but this year it seems to be particularly important.
With the pandemic, the stress levels in our lives have suddenly increased. Things that have already kept us awake at night so far, namely the stressors of our “normal” life in the professional, financial, social or familial sense, have increased their influence with the new stressors that have entered our lives with the pandemic. We are now concerned not only with the problems of daily life but also with the economic and social changes that the world we live in is going through.
For many of us, the need to be aware of stress has been replaced by an urgent need to deal with it. However, what we do to alleviate stress is often not what actually works. People often turn to social media to get away from their daily stress and troubles. However, research shows that social media enhances stress rather than relieving it.
Is social media boosting your stress?
While connecting with others is generally a good thing when it comes to our health and well-being, everything in this world has its negative sides. Despite the many advantages associated with social media, there are also many negative effects that come with its use. Studies show that excessive use of social media can commonly ignite feelings such as depression, stress, anxiety, and FOMO.
Although stress is a reality of our lives, it is a fact that social media significantly increases the stress we experience.
Here are 6 negative experiences that social media may promote:
FOMO or fear of missing out refers to the perception that everyone around you has a better and more fun-filled life than you. The idea of missing out on certain things can cause low self-esteem, trigger anxiety or often fuel more social media usage. FOMO can force you to check for new notifications on your phone every minute or seek social media interaction at the expense of real-life relationships.
Even though it’s called social media, actually those who use it the most tend to be socially isolated. A study from the University of Pennsylvania revealed that excessive use of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram led to isolation. One reason for this is that the more time a person spends on social media, the less time they have for genuine real-life experiences. Also, seeing plans that do not involve themselves on social media facilitates the feeling of being excluded for many.
Humans are evolutionarily used to spending nights in the dark. However, we are now illuminated 24/7 with artificial light. Studies show that this inhibits the release of the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep in the body – and as you can imagine, the blue light emitted by smartphones and laptops is the worst.
Perhaps one of the most obvious reasons that social media adds stress to our lives is that it has made it easier than ever to compare ourselves with others. Although we spend a lot of time building our image on social media, it is quite possible that we forget that everyone else is doing it as well. Carefully curated images on social media can easily make us wonder how all our friends are doing so well and everyone is relaxing by the poolside in Bali – except us.
Short Attention Span
As amazing as it may be to think that any piece of information is readily available at our fingertips thanks to social media, it also means that people can now become much more easily distracted. Psychologists warn that the instant and easily available entertainment provided by social media is quite tempting. If you can’t even spend a few minutes without looking at your phone, it’s worth remembering that the ability to override an impulse gets stronger with practice.
Procrastination is by no means a new invention, but social media is surely playing a hand on it. Scrolling through your Instagram or Twitter feed may seem a lot easier than starting the assignment or project you need to get done. But when did procrastination ever lead to a positive outcome? The 10 minutes before you put down your phone and start what you need to do quickly turn into 30 minutes – then into an hour.
Remember, social media is not the enemy. The way you use it is. How you process the information you encounter as you scroll is largely up to you. If you’re feeling stressed, take a break. Put the phone down and enjoy the life in front of you.
Use this month to keep track of your social media-related stress and set goals to deal with them one day at a time!