Imagine it’s the busiest day of your week. You walk out of Alumni after your three back-to-back afternoon classes, stress levels high after finishing your second test of the day.
You, as an average college student, naturally whip out your phone to give your mind a break. You open the snapchats, view the Instagram stories and laugh at the Facebook meme your friend tagged you in.
Social media has a lot of valuable qualities. It allows us to stay connected with friends and family across the globe, provides us with endless entertainment and offers us a mindless break from our stressful lives.
But if we’re not careful, our social media “breaks” can actually increase our stress levels.
One way social media can increase our stress is by being an addictive distraction.
Because it requires very little brain power, you probably spend more time liking photos than you realize.
The typical college student can be summed up in a modified version of Newton’s first law of thermodynamics: “A student on Facebook will stay on Facebook unless acted upon by a large enough panic.”
Time wasted on social media means less time to focus on homework and other responsibilities.
While we do need breaks from our work, sometimes biting the bullet and just getting the work done is the fastest way to reduce stress.
Another way social media can increase our stress is by making us strive for a made-up ideal.
The social media version of ourselves is rarely an accurate reflection.
It’s easy to feel the need to “keep up” with our friends by documenting every fun evening downtown, every Taco Bell run, every Tandem crepe.
However, we’d probably have a much more relaxing time if we tuned out the online world and just lived in the moment.
As with so many things in life, moderation is key. When you feel the urge to reach for your phone, ask yourself if a social media break is going to reduce your stress or increase it.
If you find you really need a break from homework, consider mixing up your social media breaks with quick walks, cat naps, or phone calls home to reduce stress.
Do yourself a favor and don’t make your life more stressful than it has to be.