Plunging into lassitude?

It requires recurrent efforts and a firm resolve to escape social media burnout which is a neuropsychological manifestation attributable to a range of causes

Plunging into lassitude?

Have you scrolled through all the reels possible on Instagram, all the YouTube shorts and are now feeling zapped? You aren’t alone. In today’s hyper-connected world, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. It allows us to connect with others, share experiences, and stay informed. However, the constant need to stay active and engaged on social media platforms can lead to social media fatigue.

What is social media fatigue or burnout?

A state of exhaustion or weariness that arises from prolonged and excessive use of social media platforms. It is characterised by a feeling of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion related to the use of social media. One may feel overwhelmed, drained, or depleted due to various factors associated with social media use. It is similar to emotional burnout, arising from prolonged and excessive use, impacting both creators and consumers. Recently, social media fatigue has increased due to excessive video content, particularly short-form content, which tends to be more engaging and catchier.

Causes of social media fatigue

While no one factor can be fully attributed to this, it’s usually a mixture of a few common reasons:

* Cognitive overload: An overwhelming amount of information presented rapidly and continuously causes cognitive overload, where the brain struggles to process and make sense of the constant stream of content. The incessant stream of information bombarding social media platforms can overwhelm users, leading to mental exhaustion;

* A sense of competition: The constant pressure to present an idealised version of oneself and compete for attention and validation on social media can be mentally and emotionally draining;

* External validation: The constant craving for approval and validation from others can create a cycle of dependence on social media;

* Fear of missing out (FOMO): Social media platforms can evoke fear of missing out on social events, news, experiences, or important information. This can create anxiety and a compulsion to stay connected to social media;

* Multitasking and attention span: Most individuals engage in various activities simultaneously, such as browsing multiple platforms, responding to messages, and consuming different types of content. This can cause attention issues;

* Time consumption: Spending excessive amounts of time scrolling through social media feeds detracts from other important aspects of life, leading to a sense of wasted time and unfulfillment;

* Negative environment and feedback: Exposure to negative or toxic content, cyberbullying, and harsh criticism can have a detrimental impact on mental health, contributing to social media fatigue.

Neuropsychology behind social media dependence

Dopamine: the reward system

Social media platforms are designed to trigger dopamine release in the brain, which is associated with pleasure and reward. Receiving likes, comments, or other forms of social validation on social media can activate the brain’s reward system.

However, over time, the brain begins to plateau and adapt to this dopamine hit. It then requires greater stimulation to experience the same level of reward, leading to decreased satisfaction and a potential feeling of fatigue. This is also termed ‘hedonic adaptation’.

Wondering if you are facing social media fatigue?

You may be experiencing social media fatigue, try to answer the following truthfully:

In the past month or so:

* Time spent on social media: Are you spending

excessive and constant time on social media, neglecting other responsibilities and activities? (Yes/No)

* Emotional well-being: Are you frequently experiencing mood swings, anxiety, or negative emotions related to social media use? (Yes/No)

* Physical health: Are you experiencing consistent physical symptoms such as eye strain, neck pain, or disrupted sleep due to social media use? (Yes/No)

* Engagement and productivity: Are you having difficulty concentrating, experiencing decreased productivity, or constantly feeling the need to check or engage with social media platforms? (Yes/No)

* Relationships and social interaction: Are you neglecting personal relationships, spending excessive time online, or feeling isolated or disconnected from real-life connections? (Yes/No)

* Self-awareness and control: Do you feel a strong compulsion to constantly check social media, struggle to set boundaries, or feel unable to control your social media usage patterns? (Yes/No)

If you answered yes to more than three of the above, it may be time to reflect and cut back.

Mindful social media use:

While it seems logical to cut down, it is easier said than done. Folks constantly struggle with the balancing act. Here are a few ways you can restore balance in your digital world through mindful social media use:

* Set intentions: At the beginning of the day or end of the previous one, set an intention for yourself to be mindful of social media use;

* Start with a ‘why’: Before opening a social media app or engaging, ask yourself why you are using social media at that moment and what you hope to gain from the experience. This helps you approach social media with purpose and mindfulness;

* Time awareness: Use technology to defeat technology by setting specific time limits for your social media use and sticking to them. Avoid meaningless scrolling by setting reminders and alarms;

* Reduce distractions: Get rid of those notifications;

* Take mindful breaks: Periodic breaks with a pause, and deep breaths to observe your thoughts and emotions. This helps with being in the present;

* Digital detoxes: Regularly schedule periods where you completely disconnect from social media. Begin with a few minutes, then slowly progress to a few hours, and then even a day;

* Mindful awareness of surroundings: Engage with your senses, nature, and those around you;

* Reflect, re-align, and re-calibrate: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither can the practice of mindfulness. Try to reflect on and evaluate its impact on your well-being. The idea is to find a balance that aligns with your values and mental health.

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