Social Media Stress – Should I Digital Detox?
4 min read
8 Apr 2018

Given all the press about the impact of social media and screen addiction on mental health, the need to totally disengage from work and the expectations of others, it probably seems like a good idea?  Many of us follow a pattern of social media cycling – intense usage leading to the need to take a break from it, and we feel guilty and stressed about the time we spend online.

Anyone who has tried a taking a social media holiday will know that its not easy and unless you go back in to that world with different boundaries, it probably doesn’t change the cycle significantly, so is it worth it?

Could regular social media holidays be a key tool for reducing stress?

According to a new study *, giving up Facebook can reduce levels of stress hormone cortisol. But the same study also reported that quitting Facebook lowered participants sense of wellbeing.

The measured levels of cortisol in the saliva of Facebook holiday-ers went down.  But the holiday-ers didnt feel any less stressed. In fact they reported lower feelings of well-being, feeling unsatisfied with life and were looking forward to resuming their Facebook activity.

So are the rather sensationalist headlines “Quitting Facebook lowers stress in just five days” and “Deleting Facebook could be bad for you” both true?

Social Media Stress Response

Social media triggers various processes in our brain … and therefore all sorts of feelings and reactions.  As the name suggests, most of these are to do with being social, feeling part of the tribe, a sense of belonging, self-worth, happiness & bonding.

  • Dopamine – anticipation and achievement of goals, reward, motivation to do what we want / need.
  • Oxytocin – social bonding, belonging
  • Serotonin – feeling respected or significant to others, happiness

Anything that seems to threaten this feeling of belonging to the tribe or ability to survive – real or imagined – is considered a risk and will trigger feelings of social media stress.  These can be feelings of shame & low self-esteem, being more aware of potential threats & negative news, feelings of isolation or loneliness

How can we develop a healthier way of engaging with social media?

How we choose to engage with social media can influence the degree to which we get joy & sense of belonging or social media stress.  Noticing patterns in how, when, who, why, what you use social media for, and making small changes has made a huge difference in the enjoyment I get from it.

1) Being deliberate in HOW you use social media – set limits

  • We all know the feeling… go in to check out a notification, look up from the screen 30 minutes later! Feelings of blame or regret for “wasting time” on social media are very common  

-> set a time limit /number of clicks limit. Ask what do I want from thiswhen you pick up the device to check your feeds.

2) Being deliberate in WHEN you use social media make it a reward for doing something

  • The dopamine hit and reward from social media is almost certainly far quicker and more frequent than whatever it is distracting you from!
  • The reward hit from a social media likes, comments, posts, etc is very addictive and distracting.

-> if its going to feel like a reward, it may as well be one. For example, I now use social media as a reward for completion of something I need to do, and make it as invisible as possible when not actively using it

3) Deliberate choice of WHO you follow and WHY would you miss them if they werent there?  (AKA MariKondo-ing social media)

  • Compare & Despair – feelings of inadequacy from a distorted view of other people’s lives are very common stress triggers … no one wants to be the weak-link in the survival chain! I post a lot of travel pictures … I don’t post my daily commute, me watching reality TV in my PJs, or trying to squeeze in to last years jeans!
  • Other people’s stress spreads like wildfire on social media. They vent online about people, customer service, politics….  We are also more aware of the struggles, hardships and life events effecting people all over the globe.

->take note of who / what you follow and why. How do their posts generally make you feel included or excluded, proud or ashamed / envious, informed or angry? What benefit do you get from following them?

-> if it does become too negative, take a social media holiday

4) Being deliberate in WHAT you do on social media positive impact from action

  • Quantity is no substitute for quality when it comes to online friendships. The sense of social belonging, engagement and fulfilling relationships comes from interaction rather than passive scrolling.
  • The same is true of news feeds, online discussions. Research shows that engaging in the debate online can HELP.

-> Don’t be a passive follower of 00s, create a deep connections with fewer people or issues through interaction.

Bottom line, modern life and especially social media were not designed with the stress response in mind but rather than a binge-purge approach, setting clear boundaries around WHAT, WHEN, WHY, HOW will keep things balanced.

13 Comments

  1. Joelle Cataquet

    Wow! Finally I got a blog from where I be able to actually get helpful facts regarding my study and knowledge.

    Reply
  2. Roselyn Casella

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he just bought me lunch as I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

    Reply
  3. Lane

    I think this is one of the most vital info for me. And i am glad reading
    your article. But should remark on some general things, The site style is ideal, the articles is really
    great : D. Good job, cheers

    Here is my homepage :: Emersyn

    Reply
  4. Trudi Haake

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

    Reply
    • Thank you!

      Reply
  5. Irmgard Lepretre

    Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this information. Today bloggers publish only about gossip and internet stuff and this is actually frustrating. A good site with exciting content, that is what I need. Thanks for making this web site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

    Reply
    • Hello – thank you so much for your comment – we do have a newsletter. There is a sign-up option on the homepage or I can add you to the list (you then have to accept the opt-in)

      Reply
  6. Carl

    Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the issues.

    It was definitely informative. Your website is useful. Thanks for sharing!

    Also visit my blog … Kymani

    Reply
  7. Sibyl

    I do not know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else encountering problems with your site.
    It appears as if some of the text on your posts are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them
    too? This might be a problem with my internet browser because
    I’ve had this happen previously. Thanks

    Also visit my web site: Natalia

    Reply
  8. Kandy

    Hurrah, that’s what I was looking for, what a data!
    existing here at this weblog, thanks admin of this
    site.

    Feel free to surf to my web-site :: Naomi

    Reply
  9. Vivian

    I am regular reader, how are you everybody?
    This post posted at this site is genuinely pleasant.

    Also visit my web blog … Gabrielle

    Reply
  10. Leroy

    Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; we
    have created some nice practices and we are looking to swap techniques with others, please shoot me an e-mail if interested.

    my page; Alpha Femme Keto Genix Canada

    Reply
  11. Alfonzo

    I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get got an nervousness over that
    you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again as exactly the
    same nearly very often inside case you shield this increase.

    Also visit my website; Lincoln

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Embrace Stress course

Over the years, as an ambitious employee, team focused manager and supportive friend, I developed a deep understanding of the challenges and pressures that we all face not only day to day but also in our long-term  health, happiness and career development.

Read more