Preventing Social Media Burnout

Protect yourself from constant bombardment.

Posted Sep 27, 2018

123rf/Standard License
Source: 123rf/Standard License

I have had more clients come in and say that being on social media has burned them out about the current political climate.  They feel they can't make a difference.  This feeling of not being able to create change can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and vicarious traumatization.  It may be time for you to step away from social media for a bit. 

We know that bad things happen in the world, but now we are inundated with hearing about them as soon as they happen.  We don't hear so much about the good things happening in the world.  That doesn't mean we ignore the bad stuff—it means that we balance it out by also focusing on what is going well. 

Keep track of how much time you spend on social media.  

There are several apps that will track the time you have used on social media.  The amount of time always surprises my clients. They usually underestimate their use by an hour or more.  What could you be doing with that time instead? Is what you're doing on social media helping you or hurting you? 

You can be informed yet still take a break. Taking a break from social media doesn't mean you don't care.  It just means that you know your limits, and you need to replenish.  If you aren't putting your mental health as the first priority, it's difficult to do other things in your life. 

It is okay to take a step back and evaluate. 

Ask yourself if what you are doing on social media is making a difference.  Does it make you an agent of change? Is it a healthy place to vent?  Or is it causing you to get into arguments that seem to have no end?  If you find that social media is a drain on your energy, it's a good time to step back and evaluate its role in your life, and how you navigate it. 

Avoid the comparison trap. 

While social media has helped people connect, it has also created a "who has a better life" trap. Keep in mind that people post their "highlight reel" on social media, not their "behind the scenes."  Keep in mind that the photos you are seeing were closely scrutinized by the poster, and many use filters. What you are seeing isn't the whole story.   

Use just one form of social media.

Unless you absolutely need to use multiple social media platforms for your job, narrow it down to just one or two.  You will spend less time checking, and you'll have more quality contributions because you aren't spreading yourself so thin. 

Turn your social media notifications off. 

Some of the biggest time wasters and interruptions are notifications from social media apps.  Turn them off.  There is usually nothing so important that you can't schedule a time to look at social media later. 

Get involved in other ways. 

Do you want to be an agent of change, but social media isn't helping you do that? Seek out grassroots groups, and get involved at your local and state level.  Have face-to-face contact with like-minded people. 

Have a weekly "unplug day". 

Designate a day of the week where you will not look at social media.  For many people, Sunday is the day that they turn off their devices.  At first, you may start experiencing a form of withdrawal—this will pass.  You'll notice that when you don't use your devices right before bed, you will sleep better.  This is because backlit devices inhibit the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps get you ready for sleep (Na et al. 2017; Oh, et al. 2015). 

Turn your phone display to black & white. 

Go into your phone's display settings and change the screen color to grayscale.  Your brain will not be as excited by this lack of color, and you'll find yourself reaching for your phone less.  A client remarked to me that when she started putting her phone in grayscale mode, she became more aware of how colorful the world was around her.
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Na, N., Choi, H., Jeong, K. A., Choi, K., Choi, K., Choi, C., & Suk, H. J. (2017). Smartphone Use at Night Affects Melatonin Secretion, Body Temperature, and Heart Rate. 감성과학, 20(4), 135-142.Na, N., Choi, H., Jeong, K. A., Choi, K., Choi, K., Choi, C., & Suk, H. J. (2017). Smartphone Use at Night Affects Melatonin Secretion, Body Temperature, and Heart Rate. 감성과학, 20(4), 135-142.

Oh, J. H., Yoo, H., Park, H. K., & Do, Y. R. (2015). Analysis of circadian properties and healthy levels of blue light from smartphones at night. Scientific Reports, 5, 11325.