Stress, social media and tips to help you turn off your phone

There is no shortage of academic literature to attest to the addictive power of social media. The phenomenon has become so common that it even has its own place on the Addiction Center website, which states that about 5% to 10% of Americans meet the criteria for social media addiction.

The Addiction Center characterizes social media addiction as an excessive preoccupation with social media, driven by an uncontrollable need to log on to or use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it harms other important areas of life.

Most research on social media and mental health investigates the negative psychological consequences that can result from excessive social media use. However, some researchers are looking at stress, burnout and mental health problems as potential sources of addiction itself.

To mitigate social media use among teens, Utah is one of the first states to pass a law requiring age verification for all users in the state. The Utah Social Media Regulation Law only allows children under the age of 18 to use social media under parental control and prohibits social media companies from using a design or feature that would cause a minor to become addicted to the company’s social media platform. company.

Stress and tendency to addiction

The biggest drivers of social media addiction, specifically short video apps like TikTok and Instagram, were burnout and social phobias, found a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The researchers noted that participants’ stressors caused them to use social media more frequently, which lowered their happiness levels.

Another study by Frontiers in Psychology stated that during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, high levels of stress were positively associated with addictive social media usage tendencies.

Stress is a state of agitation, which occurs when there is a lack of approaches to satisfy various environmental and social requirements, said a study in the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Stress has also been identified as a key factor in behavioral addictions.

Historically, scientific literature has identified stress as a factor that can lead to addiction in general. The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences reported that some people are more susceptible to addiction than others, stating that early life stress and childhood maltreatment have been shown to negatively impact the part of the brain that adapts to stress. Such events can make some people more likely to manage stress in harmful ways, such as drug use and other forms of addiction.

A 2022 study published in Brain Sciences found that some people are simply more vulnerable to social media addiction than others. The study explained that people who experience high levels of stress are more susceptible to experiencing temporal dissociation to deal with unpleasant feelings.

Temporal dissociation occurs when an individual has a distorted perception of time while engaged in a specific activity. This study suggests that when someone who experiences high levels of stress uses social media for long periods of time, they are more likely to experience temporal dissociation, which causes them to lose track of the passage of time and disconnect from their surroundings.

Temporal dissociation, the authors hypothesize, makes those who experience frequent anxiety more vulnerable to becoming addicted to social media.

Clinical Stress Management Resources

Some amounts of stress can be good, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, excessive stress can overload the mind and body, making it difficult to carry out daily activities.

When experiencing stress, the brain emits a series of hormones that can result in serious physiological problems. Chronic stress can damage the parts of the brain that deal with long-term memory, attention and executive functions, according to The Washington Post. Prolonged periods of stress have been shown to negatively affect the body’s vital functions, with the potential to harm the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, and gastrointestinal systems.

Research shows that living a healthy lifestyle and following a routine can decrease stress. However, it can be difficult to make healthier decisions when you’re under the weight of stress, and sometimes the pressures of a healthy lifestyle can add more tension.

How to manage stress

The Canadian Medical Association says the first step to managing stress is to stay in touch with your stress levels and identify what you can do to reduce it in the moment. The Canadian Medical Association provides a color-based stress level chart, with green symbolizing a calm, balanced state; and orange and red symbolizing a highly reactive and emotional state.

  • Once you’re in the green stage, take steps to manage future stressors, such as cleaning, planning, and doing things that minimize the burden in more stressful situations.
  • In the yellow, orange or red state, the association suggests taking deep breaths and taking actions that can reduce physical arousal.
  • If necessary, it can be helpful to remove yourself from a situation entirely by taking a walk or doing something to bring your heart rate and thoughts back to a lower level.
  • Most importantly, the association states that self-care is crucial after a high-stress situation. Taking time to relax and take care of yourself can help prevent further heartache.

If you find that you can’t mitigate stress on your own, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes the importance of recognizing when you need more help. If this is the case, or if you have suicidal thoughts, see a professional.

In a crisis situation, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be contacted by phone by dialing 988 or on their website. For Utah residents, SafeUT is a crisis chat line for issues of any size.

A primary doctor can be a great place to start when seeking stress relief, as they can help you find a psychologist or psychiatrist, or help with other issues that are contributing to your stress. Psychology Today is another resource to direct you to mental health professionals who carry your insurance or meet other needs you may have.

Resources for Social Media Addiction

Books: There are several books written on the topic of digital detox and reducing social media consumption. Some popular titles include:

Online courses: There are several online courses that can help manage stress and social media addiction, many of which are free to access.

Websites and blogs: Several websites and blogs provide valuable information and tips on managing stress and reducing social media use. Some popular ones include:

Apps: Interestingly, some apps can help you manage your social media usage and set limits. Examples include:

  • Freedom: An app that blocks distracting websites and apps to help you stay focused.
  • Opal: An app that monitors screen time and blocks distracting apps during focus sessions.

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