As fun as social media can be, it can have some pretty harmful effects. It can be stressful, anxiety-inducing, FOMO-inducing, and depression-inducing. It makes you wonder why we even still have it. However, like all things, social media can still be enjoyed in moderation. If it’s giving you a hard time, then there are things you can do about it to make your experience more enjoyable. Here are some ways to decrease social media-related stress.
- Spend less time on social media
The most obvious tip is to just cut back on the amount of time you spend on social media. It is estimated that the average user spends around 2:30 hours on social media every single day. That’s a lot of time to account for, and too much time spent looking at other people’s lives.
When you spend such a large chunk of time scrolling through social media and checking updates, it can be easy to lose perspective and get caught up in it. You lose your connection to real life, and what’s happening on social media becomes the reality.
As soon as you begin to take some distance from the happenings on social media, you’ll notice that your anxiety will start to subside. The less time you spend on it, the less it’s going to matter to you.
- Only check it once per day
Let’s say you don’t spend large amounts of time on social media platforms, but you check them obsessively. When you create a habit out of checking your accounts incessantly, then every moment you are not spending on social media becomes stressful: What is happening? What are you missing? What went on in the short time you haven’t checked your feed? You may recognize that feeling as FOMO – Fear of Missing Out, and you probably know it’s toxic.
It’s not checking updates on social media that’s bad, it’s your inability to last a few hours without it. Cut back to checking it once per day and you’ll see how real-life “updates” start replacing your compulsive need to check the virtual ones.
- Take full advantage of the privacy settings
Does your social media-related stress stem from making posts that will please everyone? Are you afraid of who might see your updates? Does it give you anxiety to think about what your grandma might say about that racy picture or that time you swore? Well then, here’s an idea that can set you free: customized privacy settings.
Most platforms will allow you a certain degree of control over your presence there: you can hide posts from certain people, only show selected posts to selected groups, stop people from searching your name or email, etc. It’s possible to essentially create several different feeds for the different people in your life, so you never have to worry about pleasing all of them again.
- Have a separate “work” decoy account
Speaking of hiding certain things from certain people, work is a huge concern for a lot of users, when it comes to their social media presence. Our social media pages tend to be very personal because it’s where we share our lives and socialize with our loved ones.
However, this part of our life is not always something we want our employers or potential employers to see. That can lead to feelings of frustration, because you’re either forced into a position where you have to censor yourself, or you’ll be stressed out about those “inappropriate” pictures affecting your professional reputation.
The key is simple, if unusual: just create separate “work” and “personal” social media accounts. Since these are two different personas, it makes sense that their social media presence would be separate. Your personal page can be created under a fake name, so employers will be none the wiser.
- Only keep people you actually know
Have you ever had randos message you on Facebook? Or realized that every status update goes out to 20,000 feeds? Does that stress you out, the thought of thousands of strangers gawking at your life?
You can get away from that if you make an effort to contract your friends & followers list. If you only keep people you actually know, you are much less likely to be receiving strange messages, have people steal your pictures, or try to use the information they gain from your page. Plus, you’ll have a feed that’s way less crowded. Who wants to see what so many strangers get up to, anyway?
- Don’t compare yourself to your friends
One of the huge problems that social media creates is the tendency we have to compare ourselves and our lives to those we see on our feeds. That creates intense feelings of inadequacy and not being good enough, and can even lead to depression. And no one needs more weird standards to fail to live up to.
Not comparing yourself doesn’t come that easily, but remembering that most posts on social media are highly curated might help. Think about it like this: no one wants to post about the miserable parts of their lives, so you’re only ever seeing the highlights. You probably only ever post positive things. So, what you’re doing is comparing your “average” life or your lowest points to everyone else’s peaks – does that seem fair to you?
Remember that if someone’s posts make you feel bad about yourself, there is no shame in hiding their activity, deleting them, or even blocking them. Your mental health will thank you.
Take a break
This may be a major “duh” moment, but have you considered just taking a break from social media? Sometimes, we need a sabbatical – from work, from life, and from social media.
You don’t need to give justifications or explanations to anyone. Just take some time for yourself, whether that’s a couple of days, a week, or a month. See what regular life without social media is like and whether you are feeling better and in a better state, mentally.
You might realize that actually, it wasn’t social media that was the problem, or you may realize that it was a huge contributor to your unhappiness. Most likely, you will benefit from the break and be able to go back with healthier habits and a better outlook on your experience using the platforms.
Delete or deactivate your account
If using social media bums you out so much that it gives you anxiety or you become addicted to it, then perhaps it’s better if you just get rid of it altogether. Deleting your account may seem like a nuclear move, but sometimes, it’s the only sane solution.
Try not to think of it in terms of losing something, because there is no actual loss, here. You can still stay in touch with the people who matter to you via phone calls and texts, and meeting in person. Not having a social media presence doesn’t mean you’re cut off completely from the world.
Remember that you can always create another account if you miss it later on, but you will probably get used to living without it just fine. Especially if you notice an improvement in your mental health, it will just be good riddance to bad luggage.
Social media can be great in a lot of ways (it’s fun, it helps you stay in touch with people, it’s a great way to connect with people from far away, etc.), but it can also have some darker effects. A lot of people report that social media is a source of stress for them, and no one needs more of that in their life.
There are a lot of ways in which you can decrease this kind of stress, depending on what it is that is bothering you, from decreasing the amount of time you spend on these platforms to limiting friends and even deleting the accounts altogether. It’s up to you to decide what is the best course of action for you.