How To Deal With Social Media Anxiety, According To Instagram Queen Lauryn Bosstick
Bored with her life and feeling uneasy about continuing down the college-to-workforce pipeline, Lauryn Evarts Bosstick hit the brakes and decided to drive down a different road.
Lauryn was drawn to beauty and wellness, and after she realized that blogging was her preferred outlet to share her opinions and expertise with the world, The Skinny Confidential was born.
Amassing 127k followers on @theskinnyconfidential and 1.1m followers on @laurynbosstick, it’s safe to say that Lauryn is an Instagram powerhouse. Not only that, but her podcast, The Skinny Confidential Podcast, has 130 million downloads and counting. Oh, and did we mention she’s also the author of two books and has created her own successful product line?
Her feed is pretty, pink, and perfectly tailored, but at some point, you’ve got to wonder how it feels to make blogging and influencing a full-time career. Maintaining such a polished social media presence is no simple task and undoubtedly could cause even the most skilled ladies to feel totally stressed out.
Lucky for you, Lauryn has shared the skinny on social media anxiety disorder and how you can control how your online presence makes you feel instead of letting social media control your life!
1. Turn Off/Mute Your Notifications
Two of the main reasons why we suffer from social media anxiety, according to Lauryn, is because we calculate our self-worth from likes and comments and far too often we rely on the quick dopamine boost of a notification from a follower or friend as our only form of social interaction. Well, not too long ago, getting a single notification was a novel experience, but as we’ve adapted to our all-encompassing mini-computers – a.k.a. smartphones – that go with us everywhere, we’ve become addicted to seeing a sea of notifications. If we don’t, we feel ignored and dejected.
As a result, we’re in a constant state of distraction and can’t focus on complex (or even basic!) things that require our attention! Here’s the thing though: most of those notifications aren’t urgent. This is not to say that your influx of messages and notifications don’t carry some amount of importance, but be honest with yourself: is a “like” or a “reaction” on your Instagram story really worth having notifications on 24/7 and distracting you from ever having a blip of time for uninterrupted thinking?
This is one of Lauryn’s tips that I implemented early on when jumping into social media use, and it has helped me leaps and bounds in resetting my attention span. I have certain notifications on, but many of the more distracting ones are off!
2. Limit Yourself to a Certain Amount of Time Each Day
“If you realize that you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression every time you open Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., it might be a good time to start limiting your time on that particular social media network,” Lauryn explained.
Have you ever heard of batching? Both Lauryn and her husband swear by this practice for a few different aspects of their lives. Time batching is her “very easy time-management hack” to dedicate blocks of her day to certain activities. In practice, this looks like only doing conference calls on Wednesdays or only sitting down to return emails three times a day.
Lauryn finds that when she limits her social media use to certain amounts of time each day, she’s better able to focus, she can discern what’s necessary and what’s unnecessary clutter, and she reduces start/clean-up time!
“I used to do them [check DMs] throughout the day which just wasn’t working for me. Now I sit down for 30 minutes in the morning and an hour at night, every night, and reply to my messages. It’s most certainly a priority for me to respond to this amazing community so I make it a point to batch this specific thing,” she said.
And if it comes to it, maybe you need to try a social media time tracking tool. If you have an Android phone, you can use Digital Wellbeing’s parental controls and be your own nagging parent to set timers on every single app. Apple phones also have a built-in Screen Time section in your settings for limiting usage.
For third-party, one of the top blocklist and time scheduling apps is called Freedom. It eventually requires a paid subscription, but could be good for starting recurring blocked sessions where you unplug from particular apps. Another similar app is called AntiSocial, and their schtick is that your screen usage data gets compared to other people in your age/gender bracket. So if you need competition to push your productivity into motion then this free one might be the choice for you.
3. Schedule Social Media Breaks
Lauryn is a firm proponent of social media breaks after having been a 24/7 content creator for almost 10 years. What works best for her is to pick at least one day a week to recharge her mental batteries, ease her headache and carpal tunnel, and feel refreshed rather than suffer from burnout wrecking her creativity.
In her opinion, unplugging regularly can allow you to connect more deeply with what’s in front of you — whether that's your husband, boyfriend, children, pets, or friends — and ease your soul. You don’t need us to tell you that there’s a lot of toxic content out there; unplugging regularly could be therapeutic!
What does Lauryn’s social media break routine look like in practice?
“Choose 1 day per week to take a break
Schedule your posts ahead of time if you still want to post
Turn off notifications of all your social media platforms
Grab a book, do something you love, get some exercise, do some self-care, anything other than social media
Rinse and repeat each week”
Her most important rule of thumb for social media breaks is to “stick to the routine of doing this once a week, every week, and you’ll see the benefits.”
4. Unfollow/Mute Accounts That Make You Feel Bad
Yes, there’s a lot of toxic content on social media, but there’s also a lot of aspirational content. While it can be good for helping you set your own personal goals, it’s not uncommon for aspiration to turn into jealousy. Lauryn believes in pushing “jealousy aside, so you can put your energy towards flourishing.”
Ask yourself: what is it about the accounts that you’re following that is making you feel jealous or envious? Are you letting that envy turn destructive?
You might be comparing yourself to someone who lives an entirely different life from you, has been afforded wildly different opportunities than you have, and has potentially sacrificed a lot more than you would be willing to give up to get where they are.
There’s no doubt that social media is also full of degrading influences on your mind and spirit. TikTok videos circulate “Goblin mode” and “Villain era” hedonism, and your Twitter timeline is likely full of doomer negativity. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by media that glorifies humor that doesn’t sit well with you, casual sex and perverse behaviors, or just poor decision making in general, you might want to unfollow or mute the accounts that are making you feel so poorly!
While it’s very important to stay in-the-know about current events, if you’re experiencing anxiety from the feeds you’ve curated, this might be your cue to do some spring cleaning, as Lauryn calls it.
“I feel like social media is a part of my life so I might as well make it a pleasant experience every time I log on, right?” Lauryn explained. “And the reason I’m telling you guys this is because I want to encourage you to really look at who you’re following/liking/etc. I mean, think about it, if you’re on social media for even an hour a day throughout the day, that’s like 3% of each day, 21% of every week…and about 7,665 minutes a year.”
5. Block Anyone Leaving Hateful Comments or Sending You DMs
One block is a million times easier on your brain than seeing the notifications continually popping up and trying to forget about them…only to be constantly bogged down in a cyclical manner by negativity.
“When it comes to eating clean, I crowd out the bad sh*t to make room for the good. When it comes to people, I crowd out the gloomy Eeyore’s to make room for the positive Penny’s,” said Lauryn.
While there are plenty of very serious cases where hateful people use social media to target and cyberbully, there are also a lot of automated bots that spam and even harm unassuming users. It’s apparently so bad that nearly half of Elon Musk’s Twitter followers are fake spam bots.
Interestingly enough, studies have actually shown that real users spreading hate in your comments or DMs demonstrate high levels of psychopathy. This doesn’t mean that all haters online are psychopaths, but it’s notable that we’re not just dealing with internet trolls here. They are instead defined by their “egocentricity, immoral behavior, and a lack of empathy.”
Lauryn chooses to block the haters and “give no energy to trolls.” She doesn’t respond to them because it feeds their behavior. She also doesn't take it personally because she feels that they’re typically just projecting their insecurities onto her, but she actively listens to constructive criticism. “Always know your strengths while not allowing other people’s opinions to cloud your vision,” she says.
6. Use Social Media for Inspiration, Not Comparison
As I mentioned earlier, Lauryn has a decade of social media expertise under her belt. She has shared that as the years go by and she gets older, she makes an active effort to follow social media accounts that motivate and uplift her spirits.
“You’ve probably heard that ‘you are who you surround yourself with.’ Well, the same is true with who you follow on social media. Only follow people whose content you want to consume. For me, I want to be inspired, educated or entertained. Simple as that,” she explained. “Reflect on how many people’s stories you watch on Instagram each day, now think about that total time spent in a week. Now think about the whole year. That is a lot of time watching someone else’s life. Right?”
Lauryn did an interview with Tom Morris of The Daily Stoic who shared some advice about his “7 Cs for Success” that rocked her world. One of the 7 Cs is having a focused concentration, which includes staying in your own lane and not comparing yourself to other people.
No matter who you are, we’re all guilty of comparing ourselves every now and then on social media. It’s human nature after all, and sometimes comparison can inspire healthy competition or gratitude. Lauryn feels, however, that comparison turns negative when we compare our beginnings to someone else’s middle.
She shared further, “Maybe you’re a working mother who compares yourself to other moms who don’t work, maybe you’re a teenager who compares your lifestyle to a celebrity’s,” but if you let someone else’s success drag you down, you’re taking “your eye off your prize, your goals, your dreams.”
The time that you spend on social media could be bringing you down, but it doesn’t have to! Social media anxiety stews and brews when we’re caught up in the constant buzz of notifications, the crippling FOMO, and constantly comparing ourselves to the glitzy, glamorous images and videos that other people craft and curate. No matter whether you have a job that requires social media use or you use it recreationally, I think we can all learn a thing or two from Lauryn and tailor our social media experiences to be more peaceful and positive.
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