In today’s technologically-connected world, some type of media is always at our fingertips. Literally. You only have to pick up your smartphone to be connected to your network of friends and family or to see the latest news headline. While the convenience is nice and there are lots of ways in which such accessibility can be useful, there is a connection between social media and stress. Let’s take a critical look at the media you’re consuming and the ways in which it can affect your peace of mind.
Types of Media
Unlike previous generations, we are now inundated with more media than ever before. Facebook, the first major digital social media platform, wasn’t invented until 2004. And then, it took a few years to really gain popularity. Others soon followed and new ones pop up every day. These sites give you an up close and personal view of what’s going on in the lives of your friends, family members, and colleagues like never before. They also provide you with up-to-the-minute news stories, giving you access to current events in unprecedented ways. But, that’s not all. For years, we’ve also had TV, radio, and newspapers. These types of media may not be as immediate in their use, but they do add to the array of media consumption we experience each day. This constant barrage of information is enough to give a person a headache!
Social Media and Stress
Exposure to all this media on-demand can cause a great deal of stress in a number of ways. When you’re glued to your smart phone, answering every alert while also trying to pay attention to the world around you, your senses are bound to become overloaded. This overload leads you to feeling drained and stressed out. It can all become too much, having to be “on” all the time and ready to answer to emails, social media, and the latest world events.
In addition, all of this input can become intrusive. It cuts into your personal life and your work world. Many of us feel obligated to deal with work messages and crises at the drop of the hat, even while trying to enjoy leisure time with our families and friends. Being exposed to the news regularly is another way social media and stress are tied. It can be traumatic to see and hear about terrible events occurring in the world around you. Reliving that trauma several times a day simply compounds it, even when it isn’t something that is directly happening to you.
Finally, there’s the stress of comparison. Social media can often lead to FOMO or “fear of missing out,” along with comparison. We can feel like our lives don’t measure up to those of our online friends. We begin to measure our importance by the number of likes we get on our latest post, too. Many young people suffer from depression because of this.
How to Cope
First and foremost, limitation is the key to finding balance. Decide what types of media are most important to you and limit the rest. Then set a schedule for when you’ll access that media. Be vigilant and try not to sneak peeks. You can download apps on to your phone and laptop to help you. Sometimes a media fast is in order if you find that your use of social media borders on obsessive.
Soon, you’ll find your reliance becoming less and your mood beginning to level out. In addition, find substitutions for your media access. Spend time focusing on projects that are important to you or actually talking to people face-to-face. You’ll see how productive and social you can really be. Also, when you do sit down with a form of media, be sure you’re looking at just one thing at a time. Multitasking is actually a contributor to stress. It’s best to sit and scroll through your Facebook feed before moving onto Instagram or flipping on the local TV news.
Hopefully, this overview gives you some insight into how a daily barrage of media can affect you. Now that you’re aware, you can be a smart consumer of the media you choose and begin to feel calmer throughout your life.