Experts prove texting is actually a lot more stressful than we think

Social overload induced by massive amounts of text messaging can be responsible for overwhelming stress levels, according to psychologists.

Text messaging in COVID-19 times has made for a very puzzling paradox. On the one hand, it can provide a much needed sense of unity with those that we can no longer physically be close to but on the other hand, researchers claim it can be the cause for socially-induced burn outs.

Text messaging more popular than ever before

Since the rise of this century's most life altering crisis in early 2020, more people than ever before have resorted to using messaging apps as a way to stay connected with loved ones. Research has proven that text messaging in particular is favoured over emails and even phone calls.

In late March of last year, as the world first became acquainted with the coronavirus, WhatsApp reported a massive 40% spike in number of users. One study sampling 1,300 US adults reported that the use of digital communication had considerably garnered popularity with text messaging having seen a rise of 43%.

Elias Aboujaoude, a psychologist at Stanford University in California specializing in the intersection of technology and psychology, explained that:

One reason they stress us out is the built-in urge to read a text in real time – and the parallel expectation in online culture that you will also respond in real time. Not responding right away makes us anxious; it gives us a “sense of having fallen behind and broken a major rule of online communications.

As a result of the pandemic, we can no longer use our busy schedules as an excuse to not immediately respond to a text message or an entire conversation on a group chat. In pre-covid times, being tired from work was a perfectly suitable excuse to not have to respond to social demands. Now, we seem to feel consumed by the urge of having to reply immediately back so as to not lose the little bit of interactions we have left with our mates.

It's okay to take some distance even during lockdown

But senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association, Vaile Wright, believes that while some people's feelings might get hurt when you choose not to reply back, it is essential for one's own mental health to set boundaries. She believes that:

You actually don’t need to have an excuse for not texting somebody right away. It’s okay.

Instead, in order to safeguard our mental wellbeing, one must, according to Wright, actively seek ways to minimize social overload by turning off notifications, momentarily muting threads or simply removing yourself from group chats you no longer feel are necessary for you to be a part of.

She also recommends explaining to friends that time off is necessary and that it should not be seen as 'ghosting' or being rude.

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