Being stressed out seems like the new normal these days.
Financial, mental, emotional, and physical stress aren’t new but the access we have through social media makes it easier to see the things (big and small) happening to people you’re connected to. You may only know them virtually or they might be neighbors, family, coworkers.
If you’re like the typical users on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (to name a few), then you probably check your notifications often. When you wake up, while you’re eating, waiting in traffic, breaks at work, before you go to bed, and so on – 30 times or more every day.
Teens are estimated to spend about 9 hours per day and adults about 2 hours per day using social media. Business Insider estimated that at current 2-hour average (which is constantly expanding), we’ll spend more than 5 years of our lives on social media.Teens are estimated to spend 9 hours per day and adults 2 hours per day using social media. #factClick To Tweet
On top of feeling stressed out yourself, you’re plugged in to the lives, successes, losses, problems, and stress of other people on a moment-by-moment basis. According to the experts, this access is damaging our mental health and causing our own stress to skyrocket.
The stress of other people – particularly toxic people whose lives seem to be in perpetual chaos – is contagious. Your body reacts physically to the trials and tribulations (real or imagined) of others…even total strangers you’ve never met (and may never meet) in person.
3 Ways Social Media Causes You to Stress Out
Loving yourself is linked to what strangers think. For those who feel insecure, alone, or unsure of their place in the world, social media is a double-edged sword. It seems like a great place to get a “feel good” pop. You upload a new selfie, get tons of you look great comments, and feel immediately better.Did you know: Loving yourself is linked to what strangers think. #socialmedia #mentalhealth #factClick To Tweet
Unfortunately, this sets a trend. Your brain’s reward center wants more of those good feels. Your next two posts aren’t as well received. No one is around or maybe a troll says something nasty. There might be arguments in the comments or maybe you remove the post entirely.
Over time, you find yourself checking new posts constantly. How many people liked the new haircut? What did they say? Your personal validation – your love of self – becomes measurably tied to a bunch of strangers’ opinions that shouldn’t matter (even a little).
Mob mentality has never been easier. One thing that fascinates me about social media is the ripple effects. Someone posts a photo or video that goes viral and suddenly everyone is mimicking it or using the same language (remember the “cash me outside” girl?) that lasts for a few days or weeks. Then the person fades into obscurity and the process repeats.
Everyone has a camera and while this is a good thing regarding important social issues or historical events, it can be detrimental to average people just going through their lives.
A single negative post from a celebrity-type can make or break a small business. One viral video or photo can ruin a real person’s life within hours. News goes viral faster than most of us can keep up and by the time stories are fact-checked, it’s already in the hands of millions.
Living the best life…even if you’re not. This is something that confuses me. People spend more time creating a perfect online fictional life than living their real lives.
There was a great video about this recently. People getting their exercise in (when they’re not), eating healthy (doing no such thing), spending time with friends (as they all ignore each other on their phones), and having the best relationship ever (when it actually kind of sucks).
An insightful article on Huffington Post goes in on the 11 things most commonly faked on social media. That’s not to say people don’t have great lives (of course they do!) just that they can (and often do) get a little carried away with how awesome their lives really are.
They’re stressed out (just like you) and want people to like, comment, and be (just a little) jealous…it’s those reward centers in your brain again.
- Flawless physical appearance
- Relationship perfection
- The awesome “night out”
- No-stress traveling
- Food, food, and more food
- Healthiest eating habits ever
- Killer exercise routine
- Unrealistic goodness of kids and pets
- Being all cool, all the time
- Best outfits, always
- Complete lack of “life mess”
The Joy of Going “Dark” on Social Media
I’ve used social media for my business for almost 7 years and I’ve seen the trends change year after year (many of them for the worse). In the beginning, I was spending 12 hours every day writing posts, posting photos, and interacting with readers.
In mid-2014, I found myself stressed out, burnt out, and unsure how to fix it.
I decided to go “dark” on social media for two weeks. I scheduled out relevant posts for my business and said, “See you soon!” I didn’t check posts, didn’t scroll my feed, didn’t open messages, and basically didn’t personally engage at all.
There was plenty to do before the explosion of social media. My sabbatical reminded me that being chained to my computer – to every opinion about my work, specifically – was keeping me from actually doing the things I loved.
The things I’m passionate about aren’t on an app.
For the last three years, I’ve kept my social media presence automated and there’s a very tight circle of people who get my attention (and affection) when I have downtime.
I avoid my newsfeed unless I accidentally see something interesting at the very top. I don’t conduct business through messaging apps. I no longer obsess over every word said about me.
Backing away from social media hasn’t solved all my problems (those exist outside of Facebook, too) but I use my time better, I think more clearly, and I don’t panic anymore when I miss one of many thousand birthdays. It no longer dictates my time, my decisions, or business direction.
I’m not stressed out about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…or any of the others. They’ll still be there, more will probably crop up as well, and life away from our screens will continue…no matter what hashtag or filter used by people you know (and people you don’t).
Take a break. Evaluate your social media use. Maybe a sabbatical is just what you need to lower the stress and figure out what you’d rather be doing with those 2-9 hours of your day.
Enjoy the quiet!Take a break. Evaluate your social media use and live life in the moment rather than on a screen.Click To Tweet
Shayne McClendon is an author and positivity practitioner. Shayne believes love crosses all boundaries, social castes, races, genders, and belief systems. If you are lucky enough to find soul-deep love, you should fight for it. Life-certified, reader approved.