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Our Stress Response To Social Media - And How To Be In Control

young man sitting and consuming social media on his smart phone

The impact of consuming negative news on our well-being is obvious. But many people find that consuming ANY kind of content on social media leaves them feeling worse than before.

Medical studies actually show higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol EVEN AFTER CONSUMING POSITIVE CONTENT on social media.

Considered very likely causes:

♨️ Scrolling puts our brains in a state of anticipation, making the brain want to prepare to respond to the next stimulus.

♨️ The fast-paced input strains our cognitive processing.

♨️ There is a social comparison with others.

After reading this, you might still not be convinced to change your social media habits.

This is because the latent stress experience described and the desire to treat ourselves to a short escape into social media (like calming ourselves down) are two different things. Despite the negative effects, there’s that loud voice in our head that says, "Just 5 minutes of scrolling - and you’ll feel better!" 🤡

And that's completely human: we want to distract ourselves from external stressors, follow the desire for social connection, and we know from experience that watching cat videos can give us happy moments ;-)

If we want to step back from social media, we need to make peace with the desire described, rather than trying to fight it with willpower. Otherwise, it will just get stronger.

The desire we feel is connected to the reward we experience each time we consume social media. Our brain gets a dose of the happiness hormone dopamine for a very short time. From its perspective, it’s not a good idea to stop. The desire we feel is its clear message to do it again.

But we can learn to make peace with this desire. It only takes a moment of awareness to pause, notice the desire, and sit with it for a few seconds instead of giving in. These valuable seconds show our brain that nothing happens when we interrupt the response. It takes few days of constant collecting of those pause moments to be in control again. And: It gets easier every time!

If you have no experience with practicing awareness yet, check this:

Reducing social media consumption can be a crucial part of an overall anti-stress strategy and reduce stress in your life. I offer professional guidance to support you in this.

Learn more about my 8-week program here:


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