Life can be incredibly stressful, and while the very thought of getting sick or having to cash in on your health insurance stresses most of us out even more, stress is one of the things trying to kill us. Stress from work, stress from school, or even just the stress of trying to avoid the penalty for not having health insurance in the first place can knock hours, days, or even years off of our lives. Stress can lead to high blood pressure, hair loss, ulcers, and a myriad of other diseases, and a new study shows that, for women, the first step in living a less stressful life is spending more time on social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest.
Believe it or not, there may be a solitary health benefit to spending a few hours a day chatting with friends and sharing things via social media. A study conducted by a group of experts for the Pew Research Center suggests that women who use social media frequently are less likely to show symptoms of stress than their less-connected counterparts.
By the numbers, the survey found that women who participated in any kind of social media (including social networks, texting, email, and other digital communication services) scored 21% lower than women who abstained from such services on a test created to measure stress in women.
These findings seem to contradict endless headlines about the negative effects of spending too much time online, specifically studies that site social media as a contributing factor that could lead to mental illnesses like narcissist personality disorder and even self-destructive behavior. Interestingly, many studies have suggested that social media can actually lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety.
Keith Hampton, lead author of the study mentioned in paragraph two, claims that public outrage against social media has no scientific data to back it up. He explained the positive effects of social media use in an interview with LiveScience in saying, “We were interested in testing the common assumption that social media use – or the use of the Internet or mobile technology – is related to stress. The way that most [researchers] have done this in the past is to ask people if they feel stressed when they use Facebook. But it’s difficult to compare an answer to that question to answers from people who don’t use this technology, or use it less.”
To measure stress levels and social media use objectively and separately, 1,800 people were asked to complete two entirely different surveys, the first designed to assess their stress levels and the second to measure their social media use and how big their online social circles were.
Hampton concluded by saying that social media use and popularity only seemed to effect the stress levels of the women involved in this study. “… For most people,” Hampton explained, “there’s no relationship between how much they use these technologies or how many Facebook friends they have and their stress,”
No evidence was found to support claims that Facebook and other social media outlets increased stress levels or that disconnecting would improve stress levels in most people.
How does social media make your lifeless stressful (or even more stressful)? Let us know in the comments section below!