How To Manage Social Media-Related Anxiety
For better or for worse, social media has completely transformed the world we live in. It’s an incredible tool for communication and networking, and it’s also a great place to go for inspiration when you’re feeling stuck. However, for all of the good that social media has done, it also has become a source of stress and anxiety for many people. When you spend time scrolling through posts about other people’s accomplishments, it’s very easy to start comparing yourself to them. Additionally, the constant personal updates, news, and opinion posts can quickly make for information overload and become very overwhelming. All of this can factor into frustrating anxiety surrounding social media.
While it’s hard to completely isolate yourself from social media, there are ways that you can manage your anxiety around it. Recent studies have shown that social media use is linked to depression and feelings of loneliness, and it can also have negative effects on your self-esteem. Just like any other harmful substance, the key is to find ways to use it in moderation and change your attitude around it. Here are some helpful tips for managing social media anxiety.
Turn your phone off when you’re focused on other things.
An easy way to cut back on your social media use is simply to turn your phone off when you want to focus on something else. One of the biggest ways that social media causes stress is that it prevents you from being totally in the moment and focused on your activities, which makes it difficult to be productive. Whether you’re working on a big project or just sitting down for dinner with friends, put your phone away, and turn it off to get rid of the temptation. If you just can’t handle turning it off completely, try setting it on do not disturb.
Set designated times to use social media.
Alternatively, when you do use social media, give yourself a little bit of time to focus on it completely and enjoy it, instead of just having it in the background. If you want to put up an Instagram post, set 20 minutes in your morning to do that, and then put the phone away. You can also give yourself a little bit of free browsing time after work in the evening - but then make sure to stop when your time is up. This will help you change your attitude around social media. When you don’t have access to it all the time, it becomes more of a fun treat instead of something worth stressing out about.
Curate your feed.
One of the best ways to make social media more fun and less stressful is to be very intentional about who you follow. If you find that you are struggling with social media anxiety, then go through your feeds and take an audit of which accounts make you happy and which tend to spark negative thoughts or comparison. If you don’t enjoy someone’s posts, but feel like you have to follow them for social reasons, that’s okay - most social media apps allow you to mute their posts without unfollowing. On a more positive note, take time to find profiles to follow that really make you feel good, whether that’s inspiring travel photos, cute animal videos, or just friends who always bring a genuine smile to your face. Remember, you are in control of your social media experience, and you can make it a happy one.
Find other hobbies or activities to fill the void.
Part of the reason we often feel tempted to check our social media accounts repeatedly is because we’re bored. When we check social media and see something new and interesting, it gives us a little dopamine release, which prompts us to continue checking over and over again. If you find that you just can’t stop scrolling, the best way to break the habit is simply to find something else you enjoy doing that you can go to every time you feel the temptation to check social media. Maybe it’s listening to a podcast or reading a book that you love, or maybe it’s going outside and getting some fresh air. Of course, you’ll still want to check social media occasionally, but when you start doing things you love instead, it’s going to seem less appealing.
Post when you feel genuinely compelled to.
Many of us feel like we have to post on a constant schedule to maintain our online ‘audience’. This can create a lot of pressure to generate content that isn’t really authentic, and can lead to stress surrounding social media. And while frequent posts will increase your engagement to some extent, it’s important to remember that other users can usually tell when your content isn’t authentic. Instead, try skipping the posting schedule and just doing it when you truly want to. This will help you enjoy your social media more, and chances are your followers will enjoy these types of posts more as well.
Minimize your children’s social media activity.
If you have a family, it’s important to make sure that they don’t develop anxiety or depression as a result of social media either. When your children reach an appropriate age to use social media, work with them to help develop best practices by encouraging time limits and a healthy attitude. Teach them to think of social media as a tool for communication and entertainment, but not as something that needs constant attention. Your children will take their cues from you, so it’s important to set a good example with your own social media behavior as well.
Switching your attitude and practices surrounding social media is not easy, and it may take a bit of time to change your habits. However, it’s worth the extra effort in the long run, because it will protect your mental health. Using social media mindfully can help you be more productive at work, and it can also help you enjoy the time you spend with your family and friends more.