These days it’s hard to scroll through the news or social media and not see things that are triggering. With the rise of extremism in our country it’s hard to keep one’s emotions in check, especially when we Americans spent on average of 1,300 hours last year on social media, according to a 2021 Forbes article. That breaks down to over six hours a day of a barrage of potentially triggering content.
Teens that have grown up in the Information Age have been exposed to this issue from childhood, the struggles of finding one’s own identity in the midst of comparisons to other’s lives that are designed to be admired. According to the Child Mind Institute, this kind of content viewed by teens can result in damage to self-esteem and cause stress and anxiety.
For a student entering college, now take these already complex issues and add in being on one’s own and learning how yourself and the world works. You are forced to deal with more advanced triggers of social media, such as FOMO, a term for the very feeling of anxiety and fear of missing out. With so many lives being now on parade, you see past relationships moving on without you, friends gathering without inviting you, or worse those who decide to bully you. What are students to do in the face of all this stress?
The knee-jerk response is to just “unplug.”
“The first steps students can take to reduce stress on social media are managing realistic expectations and being mindful of how time spent interacting on social media is affecting their mental health and overall wellbeing. Social media can be an effective tool to build social connections and increase the ability for communication, however, this tool and experience can also create opportunities for unhealthy comparisons and negative interactions. Social media can be perceived as a positive or negative, but the distinction is defined by the perception of the user. Students may benefit from working to identify how social media affects their own levels of stress and mental health and listening to those warning signs”. -Gage Howe (Former FRCC-Westminster Counselor)
The act of taking breaks from social media is found to be beneficial. It is one thing to be informed but a constant barrage of information can be taxing to one’s mental health.
According to the CDC, taking care of your body to minimize stress can set you up for a better overall mood and disposition and will do wonders for your stress levels. This can range from exercise in the Westminster Campus Fitness Center to proper eating between classes. It is also important to get sleep, which is harder to accomplish as a student with due dates, personal and work life getting in the way, not to mention the new vice of “doom scrolling” that can interrupt rest.
Another step that we can take to cope with stress is the dynamic relationship we have with mental health. This can range from religious organizations, meditation, and free counseling that is available to all FRCC students.
Social media affects us all differently due to individual personalities and pre-existing conditions. It would be wrong to say that all social media is evil, when we see the benefits and boons of it every day, on the flip side we can see toxicity and the never-ending barrage against our values and opinions. It is essential to take care of yourself by moderating social media use, trying to have some perspective on it, or reaching out for outside assistance if necessary.