Do you ever get that sinking feeling when you log onto an app? It’s like this feeling of dread kicks in when you check your social media accounts. Yes? Hate to break it to you, but social media and anxiety are strongly related.
So many studies have been done on the relation between social media and anxiety, because people wouldn’t shut up about it! Researchers determined that more social media use is linked to more anxiety in emerging adults (that’s you, my college-aged peeps).
Most of us have felt that anxiety, but why?
This article contains:
The Possible Sources of Your Anxiety
Tips on How to Reduced Anxiety Caused by Social Media
Super straightforward article, right? Hopefully reading this will give you some guidance on what you need to do to get rid of that anxiety. Let’s go!
The Places You Need to Look at on Social Media that Cause Anxiety
First thing’s first, it can be easy to just chalk up your feelings to social media as a whole, but that’s probably not the case. There are lots of good things that happen because of social media (like more activism, people connecting and the like), so we can’t put everything in one category.
You need to pinpoint exactly what it is about social media that is giving you anxiety.
That can be super hard when you feel super anxious and overstimulated! But have no fear, Angele is here to help!
I outlined a few common things that people hate about social media that could resonate with you and be the possible cause of your anxiety:
You Compare Yourself to What You See
This one can be a bit obvious, but let’s be mindful here: do you get jealous at the things you see posted online?
It doesn’t have to be a celebrity’s latest Instagram photos. You could have your friends posting their latest vacation pictures that make you a little envious.
Here are a list of things that might cause you to start comparing yourself to others:
Any aspect of their body
Accomplishments, like school and work
The amount of attention they get on their picture
If you notice yourself looking at a picture and starting to spiral in your own thoughts about how you wish you had that, comparison might be your worst enemy.
The Pressure to Be Available All the Time
Sometimes, you’re not in the mood to talk. You just want to be on your phone and entertain yourself with phone games or an article.
Suddenly, a Facebook messenger bubble pops up, ruining your high score and filling you up with dread.
Do you feel the pressure to answer this person right away? I do. The bubble is just staring at you, waiting for a reply.
You might start thinking that they see you’re online. You can’t leave them on read or ignore the message, because you might forget about it. All of these thoughts start piling up.
Sound familiar? You might feel anxious because you need to be available all the time.
Social media moves FAST. New photos constantly show up on your feed, the news pumps out new stories, and NOTHING. EVER. STOPS.
Social media also gives you the ability to have group chats. Those constant notifications can be super grating.
It’s totally understandable if you’re overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content out there. It can be hard to keep up!
Another thing that could happen is you might find yourself stressed out by drama that happens on the Internet, or terrible news that’s going on. Not everything online is sunshine and rainbows! If you’re naturally empathetic, you can easily take that stress on and get super anxious.
You’re Addicted to It and Feel Guilty
I used to laugh when someone told me to download TikTok. I can assure you, it’s no laughing matter… it’s addictive!
Social media is made for you to keep scrolling. You’ll always be entertained on there because there’s always new content!
You might feel guilty for spending so much time on social media, but it’s addicting! You know that your productivity is lacking because of social media, causing you a lot of anxiety.
So, How Do I Reduce That Anxiety Caused by Social Media?
First off, I don’t want you to feel ashamed. This is such a common phenomenon, and the fact that you realize that you need help means that you’re already ahead of the game.
Below are just a few strategies that you can implement in your life to reduce that anxiety!
Pinpoint the Source of the Anxiety
It might just be easier to say that all of social media is causing you anxiety, but that’s probably not the case.
A lot of people have one aspect of it that they hate and makes their experience with it crappy.
Pinpoint what that is. Is it:
Your concern over your like or comment count?
A certain person you’re following?
The stress of a group chat?
It could be a lot of factors! By identifying exactly what it is that’s bothering you, you’re on the right track to fixing the issue.
Try to Eliminate the Source
DISCLAIMER: This only works in certain instances depending on what your source of anxiety is.
This means that you can unfollow or unfriend people that are clogging your feed or are giving you anxious vibes. Is it someone who shares their political views that stresses you out? Someone trying to sell their products? Unfollow.
If you can’t delete this person for whatever reason (like relatives), you have the option to restrict them on various platforms.
Your Options on Instagram: Restrict
Instagram rolled out their “Restrict” feature, which is useful to block out bullies or those annoying comments you might get.
This tool is useful when you’re nervous about fully blocking this user, but by restricting them, you control who sees their comments.
This means that while they can see what they commented and so can you, anyone else can’t unless you approve that comment.
Here’s how to restrict someone:
Go on that person’s profile
Click on the three dots on the upper right corner of your screen
Click the “Restrict” button
Ta-dah! They’re restricted!
Your Options on Facebook: Take a Break and Snooze
Let’s say you’re sick and tired of what your relative’s post. You can’t unfriend or block them, but there’s a middle ground: theTake a Break feature.
This feature not only clears up your feed of what they post, but it also puts them on your restricted list. Your restricted list is the list of people who don’t see certain posts of yours.
Here’s how to do it:
Go to that person’s profile
Click on the person icon
On the menu that opens up, click the button that says “take a break”
Ta-dah! This is a permanent fix!
If you want to stop seeing their content in a more temporary way, Facebook also has the option of “snoozing” them. By pressing this button, you’ll stop seeing their content for 30 days. It’s a nice little breather, but it’s not permanent like the Take a Break feature.
Here’s how to do it:
Go to one of their posts
Click on the three dots on the upper right side of their post
Click on the “Snooze for 30 days” button
You won’t see their posts for 30 days!
Depending on how much time off you need from that person to save your sanity, these two options work well!
Stop the Notifications
It’s really hard to do other things in life if you constantly receive notifications from your social media sites! I don’t find this to be a huge issue with Facebook, but I get way more Snapchat and Instagram notifications. It can get super overwhelming trying to stay in the loop!
A good option to stop getting distracted by social media is to limit the notifications you see from these social media sites. I’ll add the instructions to stop the likes notifications from Instagram and Snapchat notifications from a certain person, because those are the most frequent ones.
How to Stop the Instagram Notifications for New Likes
You’ll get more of likes notifications than comments, so this is probably the one you’ll want to get rid of. That being said, the way to limit comment notifications is pretty much the same. Keep that in mind if you want to limit more kinds of notifications.
Go to your Settings on Instagram
In that menu, click on the Push Notifications tab
You’ll see sections for Likes, Comments, Comment Likes, and other features.
On those sections, click the Off bubble for notifications you don’t want to see. (I don’t want notifications for likes, so I put “Off” for those.)
You don’t have to save any changes, they already take effect! You’ll notice your anxiety being reduced considerably after just making that change.
How to Stop Snapchat Notifications or Stop Annoying Stories
Sometimes, Snapchat is just too much. You can totally choose to stop Snapchat notifications on your phone.
This process is a little bit different on Android versus on any Apple product, but essentially, you’ll want to go to your phone’s settings and go to your notification settings. There, you can choose to disable Snapchat’s notifications. Just sit back and enjoy the peace! (NOTE: you’ll only get notifications from Snapchat when you enter the app)
If it’s someone’s Snapchat stories that are bothering you, there’s a way to mute them!
Tap on their Bitmoji to head to your friendship profile. Next, click on the three dots on the upper right corner of your screen that opens up a menu. You’ll see a ton of options, but just tap the “Mute Story” button. And there you go!
Give Yourself a Set Time for Social Media to Avoid Anxiety
This part will be a little bit easier if you disabled certain notifications on your social media apps. It’ll be hard to break the habit, but I’ll give you strategies to lay off your phone usage.
Resisting Temptation is Hard
If you’re like me and most of the world, when someone tells you not to do something, it makes you want to do it more! So if you tell yourself not to check your phone, you’ll be tempted to check it! So how do we stop this pattern?
Simple: By making yourself busy.
If you dedicate periods of time where you’d usually be on your phone to other things, you’ll be too busy to think about social media!
Maybe if you’d usually check your phone after dinner, you can use that time to clean up or get ahead in the work you have to do. Anything that doesn’t involve the use of social media is good.
Stop Sleeping With Your Phone
Guys, the blue light that comes from your phone delays the release of melatonin, the molecule needed for you to fall asleep! That means that you’ll get less sleep and you’ll wake up on a rough patch.
Sleeping with your phone is a huge no-no if you want to reduce your anxiety and improve your mood.
Set your alarm for the next day, and read before bed. Your body will have the time to relax and prepare for bed. You deserve to rest!
Meditation Nation: Find Your Inner Peace
Newsflash: meditation is not just sitting cross-legged and saying “OM” repeatedly.
You might be meditating more often than you think.
Meditation is just taking a moment for yourself and silencing all the thoughts in your head, as well as everything around us.
An example of meditation could be simple like sitting in the garden and closing your eyes to feel the breeze. It’s simple, just like that.
Not sure where to start? When you’re feeling anxious because of social media, take your phone and find a guided meditation! This is great for beginners because the narrators literally tell you what to do.
Other good ways to meditate are:
Mindful breathing (just focusing on your breath, blocking out other thoughts)
Progressive muscle relaxation
Body scan meditation
Do your research to find out which ones work well for when you get anxious! It’s all trial-and-error, but eventually you’ll gain new tools to lower your anxiety.
Yup. Social media can cause most of us to get anxious, whether we like it or not. Don’t feel guilty for stepping back or taking extra time to reply to people.
Take these tips and modify them to what you need. This might be hard if your work revolves around social media, so only do what you can. Remember to look at other areas in your life to see if anxiety is being caused there as well.
Also, always talk to a professional if your anxiety is disrupting your quality of life.
Which of these tips will you start using? Let me know in the comments!