Fourth Estate/ Madalyn Godfrey

Avoiding social media burnout by practicing mindfulness


Have you ever spent the whole night scrolling through social media?

Maybe there was a Netflix series you “had” to finish. Maybe there were a few more TikToks or Instagram reels to watch.  

Social media has its upsides – connectivity, engagement, a sense of belonging, distraction, a tool to pass time, all while preserving anonymity – but to what extent do we use it for its actual benefit and how much do we misuse this resource?

Whenever there is an assignment due at midnight, there are two options: start working on the assignment or distract yourself by going through social media. When we’re not confident in our ability to address the assignment prompt, we choose the latter. 

Picture this: You are going through Instagram reels and come across a Netflix show that you want to binge-watch. A few hours later, you can’t go to sleep. When you wake up, you feel sleep-deprived, your eyes hurt and your whole body aches. There is less motivation to get out of bed and you may feel grumpy all day.

That is social media burnout, or SMB.

SMB has three characteristics. First is emotional exhaustion, which is when it feels like being on social media is a waste of time. 

Second is ambivalence, which is when we don’t know why we are on social media. We might go to search for something or post something but end up wasting hours if not minutes of our precious and limited time. 

The third characteristic is depersonalization. This is when we don’t even notice what we are doing and are on social media for the sake of it. 

I wondered if I slept for as long as I spent on Instagram, could I be less sleep-deprived? If I could work on my assignments and projects for that duration, would I not be stressed about work anymore? I think I would feel great!

The solution? Mindfulness

Not just closing your eyes and focusing on the breath, but recognizing our thoughts and feelings and not getting stuck in them. 

A good practice I have learned is traffic control for the mind, which only takes a minute. Before beginning your work or anytime during the day, pause and check the flow of your thoughts. Redirect them by making positive changes to your mindset and after a few seconds gently re-center. 

A meditation practice that I have shared on YouTube also helps calm down and release mental exhaustion. There are numerous mindfulness tools that can help you stay grounded, focused and productive!

The next time you start feeling disengaged while being on the phone, figure out what is a good use of time. Determine what you should do right now and how you can achieve that. You have the ability to regulate yourself.