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Title:How to beat social media stress?

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A study says that having many friends on social networking sites could cause virtual anxiety

The phenomenal upsurge in communication that is digital-media mediated, has led to many psychological issues among youngsters. A recent study has found that having more than 300 friends on a social networking site leads to a rise in cortisol — the stress hormone, and increases a teenagers' stress levels.

Leads to negative emotions
Psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria says, "The higher the number of friends you have, the more the curiosity and more the competition with others. People are jealous and envious of others due to these social networking websites. And where there are negative emotions of jealousy, envy and comparison there is always more stress involved." She states that people have stopped living and enjoying in the moment in order to capture the moment to show others. And this starts in kids as young as six to seven year olds, who put in fake birthdays and get their accounts on social networking sites. "All this increases anxiety which is just virtually created. There is no real reason behind this anxiety," she adds.

Maintaining the virtual social life leads to stress
Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty says, "When there are too many friends on a social networking site, the expectations rise and you get anxious." He states that coping with the maintenance of these friends leads to a rise in cortisol levels.

Reason behind poor sleep and insomnia
Psychologist Seema Hingorrany says, "Most teens are so aware of notifications, that they develop insomnia as they constantly check their phones. Adding more friends or more activity on social media also leads to switching off from real world and healthy activities."

Here's how to beat stress

Lead an active life
When you exercise, a lot of happy hormones are secreted and these help tremendously in battling stress in an effective manner. Exercising won't make stress disappear but it will clear your approach and enable you to deal with life in a better way.

Eat mini meals through the day
Instead of gorging on just three heavy meals have at least six mini meals throughout the day — breakfast, mid-morning meal, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, evening snacks and then dinner.

Volunteering helps
The 'feel good' factors that come with helping others and focusing on doing something for others, without any expectation of personal gain, can help you deal with stress. So, take up some volunteering work with with NGOs. Even small favours done for others work.

Have some herb tea
There are some herbs that can help to calm you down. Opt for a brew of chamomile tea, or some passionflower or ginseng in your green tea.

Say your 'thank yous' regularly
Maintain a journal of gratitude where you write down all that you are grateful for, every single day. Focusing on the positives of life really helps.

Say no to alcohol, smoking
Bad habits like smoking, drinking and other substance abuse create a lot of problems in the long run.

Indulge in some aromatherapy
Your brain which is responsible for the worrying and stress can be bypassed with the help of the sense of smell. Burning some aromatherapy oils like lavender, sandalwood or rose or lighting some incense sticks can work. You could also wear some perfume that de-stresses you.

The study
The research team studied 88 participants ranging from 12-17 years, who reported their frequency of use of a social networking site and the number of friends on the social media site, among other things. The scientists also collected cortisol samples of the teens, taken four times a day over three days. "We were able to show that beyond 300 online friends, adolescents showed higher cortisol levels; we can therefore imagine that those who have 1,000 or 2,000 friends on social networking sites, may be subjected to even greater stress," said Professor Sonia Lupien, who led the study. The team acknowledged that their stress levels obviously couldn't be entirely due to just a social networking site.



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