Dealing with Social Media Burnout

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We’ve all been stressed, a lot. Whether it’s family, children, work, bills, or just the idea of getting through the week, there are so many things that stress us out every day. Social media is a big part of our stress and burnout. But it doesn’t have to be. This week on the chat, we spoke to #TwitterSmarter team member, life-work balance advocate, and holistic life coach, Sabrina Cadini about how we can all be a little less stressed by social media. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Sabrina Cadini
Topic: Dealing with social media burnout
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: Why is social media a stress trigger?

Stress is a common physical and mental response when what’s demanded of us exceeds our capacity to deliver.

Social media is causing more and more stress to its users because they struggle to cope with new technologies and drastic advancements to existing technologies. This is called technostress.

As our guest pointed out, our brain doesn’t necessarily differentiate types of stress. Whether it’s an animal chasing us or an angry customer tweeting at us at 11 pm, our brain responds the same way. This is why it’s important to be careful of our social media use and the stressors associated with it.

Q2: What types of pressure can you be subject to on social media?

Sabrina named the top three: stress, anxiety, and burnout. Though most of us tend to use these tweets interchangeably, there’s a fine line between these triggers.

Let’s start with stress. This is caused when an external trigger or situation upsets our mental balance. For example, constant notifications—DMs, social media tags, likes, or comments—can cause stress.

Anxiety comes from an internal trigger. For example, you might’ve felt anxious if you’ve been comparing yourself with others in your feed. Whether it’s the success of their business or a holiday they’re on, our fear of missing out and the feeling of not being good enough combine to trigger our anxiety.

We’ve all probably experienced burnout at some point in life. It’s when you’re exhausted and feel like you have no more energy left to go on. Burnout is a result of long-suppressed stress and fatigue.

Q3: What are the causes of social media burnout?

It all starts with a little bit of stress. Before you know it, it snowballs into anxiety and addiction, causing burnout.

No matter who you are, chances are you’ve pulled an all-nighter (or almost) poring over something important on social media. You might’ve been working on a product launch and monitoring PR efforts or just analyzing your performance over the last six months. Either way, you’ve lost sleep, missed a meal, or skipped the gym because you were “busy”. When social media disrupts our natural course of life, it triggers stress.

Anxiety largely comes from the fear of missing out or FOMO. When you see and realize that everyone in your network is going to an event, but you can’t because you’re in a different continent or have another commitment, anxiety starts to gnaw in your brain. What-if questions swivel in your head and you end up wondering what everyone’s doing and worrying that you weren’t there to see it yourself.

If you’ve ever gotten bad reviews, negative comments on your Twitter thread, or a troll chasing after you for no reason, that may have impacted your mental peace. The next time you went online, you may have worried about it happening again. This is a driver of stress.

Addiction is the next stage, as our guest outlined it. The more you’re on social media, the more you’ll prefer to be on social rather than in real life. It starts with something we all consider harmless: scrolling through your feed before bed and soon after waking up. Gradually, the need to be on social media overwhelms us and when we’re not on social media, we start to have withdrawal systems, which affect our mood and behaviors.

From there it’s rather an ugly downward slope. Our behaviors affect our work and personal life, and we end up with burnout.

Q4: How can you recognize the warning signs of a burnout?

It’s important to realize that the warning signs of burnout aren’t always obvious. For example, you may have just started a new job and feel stressed all the time. You might think it’s you adjusting to the new role, but the problem may have started long before, in your previous jobs.

With that in mind, pay attention to even the slightest changes in yourself, such as emotional and physical energy, concentration, tolerance, need to socialize, and productivity.

Consider your self-care routine. Are you sleeping well, and enough? Have your eating habits taken a turn for the worse recently? Do you have any persistent physical strain like headaches, indigestion, heartburn, or muscle soreness? All of these could be early indications of a possible burnout.

If your daily job involves being on social media, keep a close watch on your attitudes and feelings towards your job. If you’re constantly yearning to check your notifications and exhausted by what you see, if you’re struggling to find meaningful content or second-guessing your content choices, then it’s possible that you need a little break to recharge.

Q5: What’s the best way to prevent a stress response?

The first thing to know and understand is that stress is inevitable. It’s a permanent fixture of our lives and we have to accept that. That said, there are ways to reduce the impact of stress. Sabrina outlined a three-step process to do so.

Step 1: Awareness. Be aware of what’s happening around you and how you’re reacting to it. When you realize that something’s affecting you, stop doing it. This will cut off the stress trigger and give you time to calm down.

Step 2: Pay attention. Look at how stressed you’re feeling and what’s causing that stress. Think about why it’s impacting your mind and body and whether it’s avoidable.

Step 3: Revaluate your response. Be purposeful in reframing how you think about your stressor and how you react to it. Consciously choose to change the way you deal with that stress.

As Madalyn added, come up with a list of warning signals to watch out for. Everyone reacts to stress differently. Figure out your unique responses to stressful situations so you know what to watch out for and avoid the next time it happens.

Q6: Share some ideas to avoid Twitter burnout.

First of all, allocate specific time to social media, and separate your personal and professional activities. Then, strengthen your social media management skills by using technology. This could be:

  • Scheduling your posts in advance.
  • Use Twitter features like Lists, Moments, and threads to organize your feed.
  • Use tools to manage your notifications, keep up with conversations and brand mentions and listen to your audience.
  • Muting or blocking accounts, hashtags, and conversations that trigger your stress.

Above all, prioritize your well-being. Do all the things that you know you ought to do, but never do, like eating healthy and away from your computer, moving frequently, establishing a proper sleep schedule, and engaging with friends and family away from social media. Fill your spare time with meaningful hobbies and activities so that you don’t reach out to social media because you’re bored. Most of us spend time on social media because we think we don’t have anything else to do, but the longer we spend on social media, the more stress triggers we come across.

Q7: Is taking a break the best way to recover from a burnout?

A break will certainly help, but it’s not the cure-all. Burnout is a result of prolonged stress and to recover properly, we need to go back and fix the things that cause stress in the first place. Recovery is a process.

Start off by reassessing the time you spend on social media. Consider whether you’re spending time having meaningful conversations and positive experiences or whether you’re being dragged into toxic arguments that drain your energy.

Once you’ve realized what type of behaviors are impacting your health, take steps to eliminate them. This could be unfollowing certain topics and people, disabling notifications, or even uninstalling or blocking Twitter from your work computer so that you’re not getting distracted. What you do is specific to your behavior and what works for your friend may not necessarily work for you.

Most importantly, if you’re struggling to change those behaviors or limit your use of social media, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your friends and colleagues who’ve gone through the same experience. Or get professional help. It’s ok to not be ok.

Q8: Where can you find useful resources about preventing social media burnout?

Check out the Digital Wellness Institute‘s ebook on how you can effectively use technology without it affecting your health.

Sabrina pointed out that April is Stress Awareness Month. The Stress Management Society has a 30-day challenge to help you do one thing every day to positively impact your wellness.

Lifehack also has a 7-day digital detox challenge that offers seven easy ways you can start your recovery process.

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks a lot for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with Sabrina, have a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together for us. If you think this summary is pretty good, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us every Thursday at 1pm ET on #TwitterSmarter. We also hang out on Twitter Spaces at 5pm ET to continue our chat. Catch you there!

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About me, Narmadhaa

I write all the things—marketing stuff so I can pay the bills; haiku and short stories so I feel wholesome. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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