Aunt Martha lives 1,000 miles away but she’s stressing you out.  According to her latest social media update, her dog is sick, she may get laid off and she hates all the candidates running for president.  While social media can connect us, it can also blur our boundaries to the point of emotional and mental health exhaustion.

Can you have it all?  Is it possible to engage in social media without the natural consequences of absorbing the barrage of updates, photos and stressful over-sharing?  Yes. Here are three ways to stay social media savvy while still keeping the peace in your own life.

Number 1: Choose and Edit Your Friends Wisely

Stress can be contagious.  When someone in your circle is stressed, your stress level can go up too.  When it comes to social media, experts define this as the cost of caring, the stress we feel as we are exposed to the stressful events in others’ lives. If your feed is on drama overload, you can hide or edit your friends that over share and follow more closely the friends who keep stressful statuses to a realistic level.

Number 2:  Cut Down On Comparing 

You’re grinding through work and scrolling through Instagram.  An acquaintance’s #bestvacationever puts you in an instant funk.  Experts say we often compare our internal feelings to the external highlight reel of social media, and this isn’t healthy.  Do your best to find gratitude for your own life in a real way. Most people showcase only the great stuff, leading to an unrealistic view of real life.

For teens (and adults), too much social media screen time has also been linked to anxiety and depression, due to the 24/7 pressure to respond to every post, text, or direct message. This constant stimulation means the brain is always looking at, processing, and responding to something, and never has a chance to just be or rest.

Number 3:  Take a Tech Break.  A digital detox is a good way to put things in social media perspective.  Start small, by trying one hour, then another, without checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat – you get the idea.  When you do return to all things digital, avoid multi-tasking your media, such as checking Facebook while texting, as new research suggests this takes a toll on our mental health.

Social media stress can be contained. It starts with putting your digital life in perspective, and living your real life to its fullest!