Connecting through Social Media Eases Stress (Part 1)

If I could depict my life at this moment, the following meme captures it.

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From what I can recall, I’ve lived with stress as long as I have my shadow. Stress tends to come naturally for anxiety-ridden individuals like myself. My typical week consists of working and attending school nearly full-time, attempting to study, exercise, write and read, and maintain a social life while keeping in touch with family. And my dating life? Non-existent. Along with any R&R.

It’s all about finding a balance. Which, unfortunately, is not my strong point, so stress accumulates.

But luckily, a tool conveniently assists with one of the aforementioned. The evolution of social media continues to connect us socially to those in our lives we wish we weren’t too busy to see.

At any time or in any place, any member of a social media platform, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat can log into his or her account and read updates or view pictures of friends, family, relatives and coworkers if connected to one another.

In fact, a third of Americans between 18 and 24 use social networking services in the bathroom, according to Nielsen’s “State of the Media: Social Media Report.” Whether this results from boredom or FOMO (fear of missing out), it proves that people desire contact and consistent communication.

A study by the Pew Research Center found that “overall, frequent internet and social media users do not have higher levels of stress. Holding other factors constant, women who use Twitter, email and cellphone picture sharing report lower levels of stress.”

Women reported feeling more stressed overall than men, but both sexes use social media differently. And while some anxiety exists when comparing your life to others on social media, researchers say any fear of missing out is balanced by the social benefits of being connected.

“The relationship between stress and social media use is indirect,” according to the Pew Research Center. “It is the social uses of digital technologies, and the way they increase awareness of distressing events in others’ lives, that explains how the use of social media can result in users feeling more stress.”

So, for people like me, who tend to care a whole lot about others, I may find myself empathizing or worrying more after reading news on Facebook or disheartening status updates posted by my friends or family. But I would rather be “in the know,” staying up-to-date on my loved ones lives, whether they’re experiencing highs or lows in life.

Through social media, I am granted access to communicating with those I cannot see on a daily, monthly or yearly basis. I can offer encouraging words, share humorous memes to provide a smile or laugh and post photographs or videos for others to enjoy. And those I’m connected with share the same with me, which in return, helps me get through a difficult day at work or school.

Overall, I’m relieved social media provides this connection.

-JL Smith

Photograph source: https://www.facebook.com/StudentProblems/


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