In this series on how to relieve stress, let’s look at social media. Is it a stress-inducing waste of time or are there benefits?

We’re almost always multitasking, rushing through a long to-do list while our own needs are either last on the list or forgotten altogether. It’s no wonder we feel stressed.

So what can we do to calm our minds and find a bit of inner peace in our busy lives?

Let’s start by rethinking how we use social media.

Social media stress

Smartphones and social media make connecting to friends and family easy, but there are downsides and one of them is stress.

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A San Francisco State University (SFU) survey found that students who used their smartphones the most felt more isolated, lonely, depressed and anxious than students who used their phones less.

SFU researchers believe the constant activity of checking a phone allows little time for bodies and minds to relax and regenerate. Plus, when we’re always online and checking social media throughout the day, we end up “semi-tasking”, which means we’re doing two or more tasks at the same time but half as well as they would have if focused on one task at a time.

Selfie, selfie in my phone

If Snow White’s stepmother was real today, her magic mirror would probably be a mobile phone.

Thanks to easy to use photo editing tools, sharing selfies on social media now has the potential to make us feel bad about ourselves too.

In what’s been dubbed ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’, 55 percent of US plastic surgeons have already reported seeing patients who want to appear more like the filtered versions of their selfies.

Mindful social media

For every yin, there’s a yang, and so is the case with social media.

A study by Lancaster University found that taking and posting a photo a day on social media can help improve our sense of wellbeing.  It can help us be more mindful and notice the beauty around us while helping connect us to likeminded people to help create a sense of community.

Do you need to break up with social media?

I bet we all know some who checked out, like a friend of mine deactivated her accounts after her child fell from a swing while she was checking Facebook. It was a wake-up call for her and I admire her for sticking to her resolution.

However, you don’t have to close your social media accounts if you don’t want to. Some people can keep social media in perspective by aiming to spend more time engaging with friends and family in person than they do online.

Try a digital detox for a weekend, a week or even a month to help reset your social media habits

However, if you often check social media, tend to feel frazzled and feel like you don’t have enough time in the day, you might need a break.

You can try breaking the habit of constantly checking your phone by turning off notifications and setting specific times to check social media. At home, you could set screen free rules for you and your family (like no phones at the dinner table) and set a “switch off time” in the evening for all devices to be turned off and put away.

If that doesn’t help, go on a digital detox (a social media free period of time) for a weekend, a week or even a month to help reset your habits.

Personally, I’ve been guilty of spending too much time on social media in the past and have taken digital detox breaks to help reset my social media habits. I highly recommend this strategy for anyone who feels like they are spending a little too much time online.

Now as a mom, I make a conscious effort not to let my toddler see me looking at my phone more than is absolutely necessary – which has cut down my social media time drastically. This could change, once he’s older and going to school, but for now, it works.

When it comes to social media, you need to find what works for you.

You may want to set specific times of the day for checking social media, close all your accounts or simply unfollow the selfie queens. Whatever you do, if it’s a choice that helps you feel calmer, it’s the right one.

Sources: Boston Medical Centre, Lancaster University and San Francisco State University (SFU).

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.