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Does posting on social media treat symptoms of anxiety?


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Photo: Stocksy/Jojo Jovanovic

Past studies have shown spending too much time on social media can lead to anxiety, depression, and feeling super-overwhelmed, but new research found that your feeds can offer mental-health benefits if they’re used as a means to express your emotions.

Microblogging—AKA mini blog posts on social media, AKA Facebook status updates and tweets—can actually be a great way to reduce negative emotions if you have social anxiety. In the study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers found those who don’t want to talk to someone one-on-one could reap the same benefits of sharing emotions…by publishing them online.

“Talking to someone face-to-face or on the phone might feel daunting because people may worry that they are bothering [the other person]. Sharing a status update on Facebook or tweet on Twitter allows people to reach out to a large audience in a more undirected manner.” —Eva Buechel, PhD

“When people feel badly, they have a need to reach out to others because this can help reduce negative emotions and restore a sense of well-being,” Eva Buechel, PhD, said in a press release. “But talking to someone face-to-face or on the phone might feel daunting because people may worry that they are bothering [the other person]. Sharing a status update on Facebook or tweet on Twitter allows people to reach out to a large audience in a more undirected manner.”

While plenty of people microblog (whether they realize they’re doing it or not), this research shows those who are higher on the social apprehension scale are more likely to use the platforms after experiencing negative emotions. Those who are lower, on the other hand, typically go for sharing face-to-face or sending DMs.

“There is a lot of research showing that sharing online is less ideal than having communication in person, but these social networks could be an important communication channel for certain individuals who would otherwise stay isolated,” Dr. Buechel said.

Even though there are some perks to microblogging your negative emotions, Dr. Buechel added that it’s not optimally healthy to fully rely on the method. So, rant about your day in a lengthy post when you feel like it, but don’t avoid reaching out to friends IRL too.

Find out how Chrissy Teigen and John Legend keep their relationship with social media healthy. Also, you’ll love these tips for staying authentic online.