As most of us have been quarantined and observing social distancing for more than a hundred days, keeping in touch with our family and friends through video chat and texting has been essential in maintaining our mental health, our social connections, and an attempt at creating some sense of familiarity. More and more people are turning to a plethora of group chat apps like Whatsapp, GroupMe, House Party, Facebook Messenger (to name a few), to stay connected with their social circles. Group chats are an easy way to get many of your closest people together at the same time (and let’s be real, saves you from re-typing again and again). But what happens when these group chats stop being a time saver and transform into a time sucker? Why do you feel so bad when you don’t return a response right away? Here are 10 ways that group chats can hinder or help your mental health.
Hinder: Communication overload
“As much as we need to be digitally connected right now, it’s a constant influx of stimulation,” says psychotherapist Sara Notenboom. “Being plugged in all the time can wreak havoc on our nervous systems in that we are constantly scanning our digital interactions [and] catching up to 50-100 missed messages at a time is anxiety-inducing for many people.” She also addresses the anxiety associated with group chats. “You may start to worry if you let so much time elapse between your responses, whether your peers will be upset with you. Thoughts like ‘am I behind?’ or ‘will everyone think something poorly of me if I haven’t responded’, increases a time-sensitive pressure and anxiety that is associated with group texting.”
Pro tip:Go into your group chat settings and try turning off your notifications. This can help to alleviate your phone from constant buzzing — and your need to check it.
Help: Vital social connections
RELATED: 15 ways to keep your friendships healthy and thriving.
Hinder: Unhelpful noise
Pro tip:If you’re going to share news about your life with your friends, check your expectations at the door. Understand that they are going through their own unique set of circumstances, and if their response is less than enthusiastic, give them the benefit of the doubt that they may just be having a bad day.
SEE ALSO: 13 signs you have victim mentality.
Help: Important social information
Hinder: Dealing with no response
Pro tip:When no one responds to your text, don’t be afraid to bring attention to it in a friendly way. Just give them a nudge, and remind them that you’d appreciate any solutions to your question. “I see no one knows of a good tutor, thanks anyway!”
Help: Comic relief
Hinder: Emoji’s aren’t enough
Pro tip:If you are starting to feel lost in a world of smiley faces and peaches, try stopping with the texting and actually call up the person you’d like to speak with. Sometimes a voice interaction is the very thing that you needed.
Help: Setting boundaries
RELATED: How to set healthy boundaries with your mom.
Hinder: Follow the leader
Pro tip:Know that your voice is as important as everyone else in your group chat. If you are feeling like you’re not heard, work on finding your voice, in real life and digitally.
SEE ALSO: 10 signs you're actually the top.
Help: Acknowledge and name your feelings
RELATED: 10 affordable self-care strategies for your mental health.