From FOMO to FoMO: A Psychological Look at Social Media Anxiety
Social media has become a ubiquitous part of our lives. It allows us to connect with friends and family, keep up with current events, and stay entertained around the clock. However, as much as social media can be a source of enjoyment, it can also lead to anxiety and stress.
One of the most significant sources of anxiety on social media is FOMO, or the fear of missing out. The constant stream of posts, photos, and updates can make us feel like we need to be constantly connected, or we might miss out on something important.
Studies have shown that FOMO can lead to higher levels of anxiety and stress, as well as a decreased sense of well-being. The more we feel like we need to stay connected, the more anxious we become.
In addition to FOMO, social media can also lead to social comparison anxiety. We often compare our lives to the carefully curated highlight reel of others on social media, which can lead us to feel like we’re not doing enough or not living our best lives.
This sense of inadequacy can lead to depression and anxiety, as well as a sense of social isolation. We feel like we’re not measuring up to the people around us, and that can be a difficult feeling to shake.
The Psychology Behind Social Media Anxiety
So why does social media lead to anxiety and stress? One key factor is the constant stream of information we’re exposed to. Our brains simply aren’t designed to process that much data, and the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming.
In addition, social media creates a sense of constant need for validation. We want likes, comments, and followers, and we feel like we’re not successful unless we have them. This need for validation can create a cycle of anxiety and stress, as we constantly monitor our social media profiles for signs of acceptance or rejection.
How to Manage Social Media Anxiety
If social media is causing you anxiety, there are things you can do to manage your feelings. Here are a few tips:
Take a Break
If social media is stressing you out, take a break. Log out of all your accounts and stay off social media for a while. This can help you clear your head and reduce your anxiety levels.
If you don’t want to completely disconnect from social media, consider setting limits for yourself. For example, you might limit your social media use to a certain time of day or for a certain amount of time each day.
Social media can make us feel like we’re not doing enough, but it’s important to remember that we’re only human. Take some time to practice self-care, whether that means taking a relaxing bath, reading a good book, or spending time with loved ones.
Focus on the Positive
Social media can be overwhelming, but it can also be a source of inspiration and positivity. Try to focus on the positive aspects of social media, such as connecting with loved ones and discovering new hobbies or interests.
Social media can be both a source of enjoyment and anxiety. To manage social media anxiety, it’s important to understand the psychology behind it and take steps to manage your feelings. By taking breaks, setting limits, practicing self-care, and focusing on the positive, you can reduce your anxiety levels and enjoy social media without the added stress.
Megan Johnson, Psychologist at Cure of Mind