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Social Media and Stress

Impact and Way-out

The use of social media has increased rapidly over decade. When the concept of social media was formed, the application to facilitate the same was sixdegrees. It allowed people to upload profile pictures and enabled them to connect with numerous people.

It was after the year of 2001 and the establishment of the widely used Wikipedia that social media gained momentum. The launch of various networking sites such as LinkedIn, myspace, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler is what attracted people onto this platform.

In the current year, the use of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and WhatsApp are trending. People are running businesses, earning income by posting dances, fashion trends make-up tutorials, entertaining people or creating content through this platform.

It seems as though social media has just gained momentum especially due to the coronavirus but this momentum would only increase year after year.

There are numerous benefits of social media. It has established a global platform of acceptance of unique businesses, personalities, individualities, talents and even provides anonyms support to wrongdoings. It helps build acquaintances globally thus increasing an individual’s outreach.

It allows various relationships (familial, friendships, romantic) to be long-lasting because people can communicate with each other no matter what the distance is.

It has become a hub for small businesses. They are able to connect to millions of people without much expenditure on outreach and marketing. In regard to advertisements, these social media platforms offer their own advertisements platforms with not very expensive costs. One can also directly connect with the customer without much hesitation. To promote their products, businesses can create content of their choice and not worry about costs and approaching numerous agencies.

It has also allowed people to explore till their hearts content and share it with the rest of the world.

Despite these benefits, is social media a cause for stress?

When you wake up every morning, do you check any one of your social media pages especially Facebook and Instagram? Do you open your social media pages more than two to three times a day? If yes, do you feel anxious when you have not scrolled down your feed long enough or accessed your social media every now and then?

Does reading this stress you out?

Social media is addictive. Seeing various people living different lifestyles makes one think that they too are living in the world which is not their reality. It makes the person want a different kind of lifestyle hence leaving them unsatisfied with theirs. The feelings of not being good enough, talented and unambitious linger. This raises the level of anxiety and sadness in a person. It may cause one to have an increased addiction to social media or make certain decisions that do more harm than good.

Being on social media also causes the fear of missing out or the commonly called FOMO. Seeing one doing an activity and feeling an empty feeling as though you wish to do it too but cannot is the fear of missing out. These feelings always existed but during this pandemic it has increased. Sitting at home and not being able to perform an activity is causing frustration. Seeing people travel, make memories, go on adventures, spend quality time also causes jealousy and regret on not doing the same. This increases the stress levels in one’s body. It also leads to pain and depression.

Everyone lives a different life-different achievement, talents, struggles, lifestyle. Watching other people living a kind of lifestyle may not be an ideal form of escape. Behind all that they show, struggles do exist. For instance, you may cry upon your failures in your room so that no one notices, the people whose lifestyle and travels you are following on social media may be doing the same.

It also provides us unlimited access to global news. Certain incidents that occur can cause grief, anxiety leading to stress in an individual. This information is available widely on social media and constantly updating oneself with such information only increases these feelings thus taking a toll on mental health.

Social media is also known to hamper the sleep cycle. Staying awake till late at night or early mornings can lead to insufficient sleep thus feeling lethargic and tired all day. It also reduces the motivation to work or indulge in something productive. Checking social media after waking up due to broken sleep can lead to the same. It can also cause eye damage because of viewing the bright screen in darkness.

Often people say they are deleting certain social media apps or are going on a social media detox. The reason behind this action?

Some people feel tired and lonely because they feel as though they are wasting their time on it and the influence is overpowering their hobbies, communication with people and their talents that they shut the source of it. Some may receive negative and hateful comments towards something said or done or a venture that grief, guilt, regret overpowers the feelings of courage and supporting oneself. Instead of rectifying the situation, they disconnect themselves from the problem. Then there are some who just ‘cannot do it anymore.’ The content of their choice on that application causes annoyance. It stresses them out for absolutely no reason and they disconnect themselves from social media.

The people who take such decisions often reinstall feeling lighter in the mind and heart and ready for a change.

Also read: Managing Mental Health during COVID-19

Stress is divided into two categories – Eustress and Distress. Eustress being the positive stress and Distress being the negative stress. All the factors above are causing distress which can take a toll on mental and physical heath in the future.

To continue embracing all that social media has to offer, it is important to understand the influence it has on you and to take a break once in a while in order to focus on yourself. Social media can be ones escape from a life of struggles and pain but solutions and help can also be received so as battle it.

To reduce the impact of stress it has on an individual, one can:

1. Limit the time spent on all the platforms.

2. Indulge in hobbies that make one happy and satisfied with themselves.

3. Try to learn something you have never done before or experiment.

4. Spend time and communicate with friends, partners, parents, relatives or anyone you may feel comfortable with.

5. Use your time not dwelling over how you are missing out, but look back and recall what you have done that is enjoyable and the scope of doing it again.

6. Find a job or some form of work that enables the brain to think and focus on something that can fuel your future.

7. Take classes or experiment with learning new fields for the fun and knowledge. Various websites offer free courses.

8. Eat healthy and sleep early.

9. Create a barrier for the kind of news you read and the quantity of it.

Social media plays a large and important role in human life. It has become a necessity rather than being a luxury commodity or service. It has its advantages and disadvantages like every other commodity. In all, one needs to remember than social media is a part of life and exists to benefit us and not a dictate of the way of life or overwhelm our lifestyle. Practicing self-control is the efficient and beneficial way to reduce stress.

Veda Shroff
Veda Shroff is a second-year student studying liberal arts at NMIMS, Mumbai. Social, political, and psychological topics pique her interests.

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