Maybe you may have been a modest social media user prior to the lockdown, but do you find yourself hooked to your phone, browsing Instagram and Facebook constantly for updates and seeking out on Whatsapp for news or a connection because of the COVID-19 issue swept over our lives? You could be struggling from social media stress without realising it.
First and foremost, recognise that this is an unusual reaction to an unprecedented circumstance. The overwhelming bulk of us have rarely been subjected to a pandemic, let alone one which necessitates such restraint. Our brain wants to make any sense of the confusion — it’s a natural human need — and we do it by gathering more and more content; therefore, the constant browsing on social media platforms.
It’s a method of relieving stress. Many make use of social media to relieve the psychological stress that has built up. People are anxious because the future appears to be ambiguous right now. It is not anxiousness with a specific objective in mind. It is a dispersed anxiousness caused by uncertainty. This type of anxiety requires a continual diversion in order to be kept under control.
As a result, we resort to social media because of its addictive qualities of providing something which captures our interest every few moments, every time we browse.
How does it affect us?
What began as a diversion strategy has evolved into a vicious mood loop in which all information, fact and fiction, serves to increase our anxiety, resulting in mood swings and irritation. It has been thoroughly investigated in study, which discovered that excessive media use dramatically increased social media anxiety and tiredness, which subsequently resulted in heightened stress.
What can we do to avoid feeling anxious as a result of social media?
- To combat FOMO, do this test: turn off your phone for two hours. Sure, you will have the want to glance at it every few moments, but resist. We don’t actually lose out on much by avoiding social media for a few hours, but it seems like we do since we are constantly overwhelmed with incoming news at all times.Our minds are constructed by nature to filter material so that we may apply selective attention; nevertheless, we are currently eroding that filter, that may have long-term consequences for cognitive performance.
- Recognize and accept your addiction. There is no point in denying that you may be hooked to social media since that is how it is built. You’re not the only one. Accepting, on the other hand, is the very first step towards reclaiming control. Remind yourself that this is a ‘fix’ every time you go for the phone.
- Encourage surfing. Our impulses, especially the ones that cause us to pick up our phones, occur in waves, with each wave ranging around 20-30 minutes, regardless of whether we indulge in it or not. When you sense the need to indulge in these kind of activity, you may feel powerless if you don’t, but remember that the impulse will fade away.
When we are deprived of exterior stimuli such as socialising, commuting to work and vacationing, it is normal to resort to social media for enjoyment. But keep an eye on whether you’re just using or allowing it to dominate you.