It can be so tempting, when we feel upset, stressed, or sad, to try and comfort ourselves through eating, drinking, watching television, browsing the internet, or our own drug of choice. These things aren’t inherently bad, but they can be problematic when we become addicted to them, and when they prevent us from facing our experience and moving on. Distracting ourselves from our own negative emotions is not by any means a new phenomenon. However, the latest distraction addiction of the modern day is social media, especially big among teens, and younger adults.
Emotion focused coping is the psychology term used to describe this sort of coping - where we try and get rid of a negative experience by simply making the bad feeling go away. Research has found that this form of coping isn’t so effective in the long run, because we haven’t actually dealt with the source of our distress.
In many ways, mindfulness is the opposite of distraction. If distraction is bringing your attention away from your present experience, mindfulness is the practice of continually bringing your attention to your present experience (with non-judgment of course). Because of this, researchers decided to investigate the relationship between social media addiction and mindfulness.
Results showed, not surprisingly, that there is a strong negative correlation between mindfulness and social media addiction. Mindfulness and emotion focused coping were negatively correlated, while social media addiction and emotion focused coping were positively correlated. Finally, researches looked at emotional exhaustion, which is a major contributor to workplace burnout. They found a negative correlation between mindfulness and emotional exhaustion. Because this research was done with a one time questionnaire, we can't know the causal relationship between these variables. But it does indicate that when you're feeling upset and go to automatically open facebook, it might be worth it to take a few mindful breaths.