Do you ever mindlessly scroll through your phone, going through your social media applications?
How do you feel afterward? Accomplished? Informed? Lonely? Anxious? Worse off than when you started?
While social media is an excellent way to stay virtually “connected” with loved ones & acquaintances, it can also be a daunting and consuming activity.
Social media, while it is convenient and informative, it is a barrage of information all at once that can leave you feeling drained at best.
It often feels like a necessary task one must complete daily, if not hourly.
Like any new phenomenon, being connected and informed at all day hours can feel like an impressive innovation.
We want information available in seconds, right at our fingertips. The instant satisfaction is intoxicating. Intoxication often has some side effects.
Because social media is so consuming, one can easily spend hours scrolling past photos & videos, double tapping here and there, and interacting with the content we like. There can come a time when being connected to that many people simultaneously causes burnout.
Burnout, according to Merriam -Webster is “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”
We don’t associate burnout with time spent on leisure, such as social media. However, prolonged stress or frustration can cause exhaustion just the same.
Social media provides an immediate, albeit instantly gratifying, bombarding of information and stimulation that masquerades as a connection to others.
And what happens when one is emotionally connected to what they are watching online daily?
We witness high-intensity events around the clock when we are connected on social media. Intense topics vary but can include things like such as holidays, politics, controversies, conspiracies, current events, disagreements, and the news.
Social media reporting on these types of topics 24/7 can impact our mental health- one that can cause “prolonged stress & frustration.”
So, what to do? Delete the applications off your phone and resist typing “Facebook” or “Twitter” at the top of your search engine.
How does one navigate social media when you feel yourself getting burned out?
In the same way, we make efforts to protect our mental health in other areas, and we can also strive to take care of mental health as it relates to social media.
Our devices are programmed to keep us engaged and informed at all times, 24 hours a day. It is relatively easy to stay connected, especially when constant notifications are pinging us to make us aware. No qualifier makes social media “good” or “bad.” You do not have to delete anything; however, like anything else intoxicating, moderation is key.
Here are some tips that may help you deal with social media burnout as it is happening or after you notice the stress & fatigue:
This is a feature on all social media that removes things from your social media landing pages. Muting doesn’t mean “unfriending” or permanently severing relationships by “blocking” people.
Muting also doesn’t inform people connected to you on social media that you’re not watching their content.
Muting helps you avoid seeing things that trigger or upset you.
Unplug for a little while
Set up controls for yourself by changing the settings on your phone. Another way to unplug is to put your phone away someplace it won’t distract you.
Being plugged in all the time and attending to notifications 24/7 brings a false sense of urgency.
Be present and get grounded.
What do you see, smell, touch, hear, or taste in your physical moment?
Get connected with your current surroundings in a physical and mindful way. Giving your brain a break from the constant stimulation will help to re-set you.
Protect your peace
You do not need to engage, and you do not need to respond. You do not need to insert yourself in the narrative people are posting about. Even if the posts are positive and engaging, keep scrolling.
People post on social with many different motivations. Some folks want to show off their recipes or how adorable their children are; others want to document their vacation trip or post inspirational quote. We also know others post things that directly or indirectly affect their friends and followers. You don’t need to know their motivation to respond. If you want to avoid the frustration that leads to stress, you can refrain from engaging altogether. You can choose to protect your mental health and prioritize yourself.
Prioritizing mental health to avoid burnout is an intentional decision requiring some discipline. So if you are feeling more stressed after spending time online, it is time to take some steps to help yourself feel better.