Start with your device
Think about where you’re accessing social media, then make it harder for yourself to get there. Zandt suggests turning off notifications on social apps, or one step further, deleting them altogether.
"Make it difficult for yourself to log in and check in," she says. "Give yourself some stumbling blocks rather than have this default setting be available to you."
Customize your feeds
On Twitter, create lists comprised of "essential" accounts, like family and friends, and make that your go-to feed. That way, you’re not stuck in a waterfall of tweets and treading water to keep up. Taking advantage of Twitter’s mute option prevents you from seeing certain words, phrases, hashtags, and accounts. If you’re looking to take more extensive measures, there’s Block Together, an app that allows you to subscribe to another Twitter user’s list of blocked accounts. You can also share your block list for other users to follow.
For Facebook, where feed customization is algorithm-based (and whose said algorithm is soon changing), there’s the News Feed Eradicator plugin that transforms your newsfeed into an inspiring quote.
Stay off socials during a breaking news situation
While you think social media taps you into the most up-to-date info, you’re only stressing yourself out by closely following the breaking-news deluge. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine found that during a crisis (in this case, an active shooter lockdown on a university campus) people who received unofficial or conflicting information from social media reported higher levels of stress.
"When official information is not readily available, people are going to look at information wherever they can," says Nickolas Jones, a doctoral student at UC Irvine and the senior author of the study. "And there are consequences to being exposed to that information, especially if it’s false."
Jones also recommends taking social media messages with a grain of salt. Unless it’s coming from an official source, it’s OK to feel skeptical, and that being too trusting can compound your stress levels. "We found that people who use five or more social media platforms and who trusted the information that they saw, those were the people who reported the most distress about this event in the aftermath of it," Jones says.