How to Decrease Social Media Anxiety
Social media anxiety is real. Claims of social media being bad for us have long passed into common parlance, but as it turns out, such claims actually have a basis in fact. Research proves that heavy social media usage can wreak havoc on one’s mental health1 – not only is it linked to anxiety, but also depression, loneliness, paranoia, and even attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For those of us already prone to anxiety, such demands we take an active role in regulating our social media usage. Though seemingly difficult, here are some ways to avoid social media anxiety.
5 Ways to Avoid Social Media Anxiety
- Avoid extremism to avoid social media anxiety. Some may be tempted to take an extreme position and completely remove themselves from social media – I suggest avoiding such a position ("Mindful Social Media Habits Protect Your Self-Esteem"). By purging social media entirely, we miss out on the genuinely positive aspects of being a part of it, like easily connecting with friends. The trick is not to use it excessively, but instead only on occasion – as the Greeks have said for thousands of years, “Everything in moderation.”
- Delete social media applications from your phone. The convenience of having social media applications on our phones makes it much easier to check one’s account. If it’s that easy to check, we’re likely to spend much more time checking it. That being the case, I recommend deleting social media apps entirely to reduce the temptation. You can still access your account from your Internet browser, but the added effort needed to manually open your account may deter visiting as frequently. If you absolutely need the mobile applications, however, you should turn off all notifications for them, so your phone cannot coerce you into logging on more than necessary.
- Don’t feel the need to join every social network. I feel there are too many social networks as it is, yet we’re still socially pressured to open accounts on all of them. Ignore that pressure and only join those networks you actually care about. Personally, I only use Facebook as a means to keep in contact with friends and family – I don’t take enough pictures to necessitate an Instagram account, and Twitter is so toxic that I avoid it like the plague. I feel I get all I need from Facebook to not have to waste my time with anything else.
- Control how many people you add or follow. Just because you can add/follow thousands upon thousands of people on social media, doesn’t mean you should. Realistically, are you really going to communicate with all of them? At an even more basic level, are you really going to be able to keep up with what they’re posting? To save your sanity, limit yourself to people you’re close to, or organizations you follow regularly. Don’t be afraid to occasionally purge your friend list of any unnecessary additions, as I do from time to time.
- Don’t be afraid to hide a friend’s posts. Even your good friends can annoy you on social media. Maybe they post too much, or maybe they post a bunch of political content that you don’t want to see. Thankfully, most social media sites give you the option to hide a friend’s posts without unfriending them. Take advantage of this opportunity – you can hide any unsavory posts, and your friends need not know any better.
- Fader, Sarah. Social Media Obsession and Anxiety. Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Accessed July 30, 2018.
DeSalvo, T. (2018, August 1). How to Decrease Social Media Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2018/8/how-to-decrease-social-media-anxiety
Author: TJ DeSalvo
Thank you for sharing your insights about monitoring social media usage! Before I read this, I seriously contemplated deleting every social media account I had. I just couldn't stand the way I kept comparing myself to my peers. I blamed the issue entirely on social media when it was really mostly caused by the way I was using it.
Reading this article reminded me that social media could be a really good thing to use. I especially liked that you mentioned using it "in moderation". That's something I think a lot of people forget, especially since many of use are constantly on our phones. Well done on this article!
I'm really glad to hear that my article seemed to help you in such a positive way! I think one of the biggest issues with social media is that because it's still so new, most of us haven't trained ourselves to use it in a healthy way yet. The fact that our phones (which are also fairly new, all things considered) make it so easy to access doesn't help. I'm hopeful that with time, we as a culture will slowly correct ourselves into using it better.