What to do if WhatsApp messages make me anxious

WhatsApp, instant messaging itself, is so much a part of our lives that we even have a hard time thinking about how we communicated before using it compulsively. Because yes, we are hyper-connected; we answer messages continuously , whether from our friends, our partner or our family members. Even those “deniers” who say that “they control” send constant messages with other people, many times out of pleasure and many times out of social imperative.

And it is that, the omnipresent instant messaging often sets the rhythm of our life, something that can become a difficult situation to manage. «The fact of being constantly connected and accessible to communication with our environment, in some cases can be a source of anxiety . This happens when we do not use technology in a healthy way, without any type of control or limit on our part, ”says Sara Prieto Gómez, a psychologist at the TAP Center.

This anxiety can be caused by two reasons. On the one hand, the trigger may be receiving many messages and feeling the need to reply to them even if you don’t have time. On the other, the opposite case: receiving few and missing a certain degree of attention. If we observe the first scenario, the psychologist comments that the increase in accessibility in communication with others leads to an excess in the number of messages we can receive . This, if coupled with that feeling of responsibility of having to answer, can create a certain burden. «Anxiety is a mechanism that helps us cope with difficult or complex situations. When the demand is greater than the resources we think we have, the stress response appears », says the professional.

Guilt for not responding quickly

Adds Ruth González Ousset, teacher at UAM, sexologist, psychotherapist and couple therapist at Ruth González Terapia, that we live in a society in which not only immediacy prevails, but a constant connection pattern has been established in which it is expected that we have total availability. «Guilt appears for having been slow to answer. We apologize when we start answering a message, “says the professional. He points out that there are more and more cases of people who feel they are unable to turn off or silence their mobile.

On the other side of the scale are people who feel discomfort or insecurity if they receive fewer messages than expected. “In this sense, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that these applications are only one of the means with which communication is established,” says Sara Prieto Gómez, who adds that, although a person receives many messages and has a large number of conversations in this way, may actually l to communication is very poor or surface. «In any case, if this is something that causes discomfort in the person, it is important to highlight the importance of assertiveness. Once you have identified how you feel about it and what is the need that is not being covered, you have the resources to launch a communication in which that discomfort is expressed, ”says the professional.

I get overwhelmed if they don’t answer me

Another scenario that normally generates anguish or anxiety is when a person visualizes our messages, but does not answer us. Here come into play anticipatory thoughts . «In the case of feeling overwhelmed or uneasy, we are likely to think things like:” he has read the message and he got angry “,” he does not care about me and that is why he does not answer me “…, in the end we are trying to guess what he is going to do. go through a very negative filter and from very little information », explains Sara Prieto Gómez. Also note that if our expectation in relation to communication is based on the fact that it must be immediate and that the other must answer us in a few seconds or minutes, it is easy to feel frustrated when it is not fulfilled.

Ruth González Ousset comments that if we get to a point where we feel frustration or anxiety, the most important thing is to “invoke common sense.” “You do not have to live or stick to your mobile and much less thinking about the immediacy of response,” he says and recommends, for example, modifying the options that come by default in the app : eliminate the connection time and the double check. “Each person has to find a middle point in which they are well and do not make this application their prison,” he says.

For her part, the TAP Center psychologist leaves some tips to avoid anxiety in the two scenarios:

If we receive a lot of messages

  • Establish limits and times or times of the day in which we can meet those demands
  • Do not fall into the trap of thinking that if we are not connected 24 hours something important will happen and we will not find out
  • We can notify our environment so that they know how to locate us in case of an emergency

If we receive few messages

  • Establish what our needs are and what we really want to change
  • Recognize if we want to increase the number of messages we receive in general, or have more relationship with ‘X’ person
  • Adjusting expectations and sharing needs would be the key to making a change

If the use of WhatsApp can normally be a source of anguish, when we talk about this, in relation to a couple dynamic, the feeling can be magnified, since both dependence on technology and dependence on a partner come into play. «They are two different concepts but they are closely related because in both cases we seek, through external reinforcement, to reduce a feeling of insecurity or fear», Indicates Sara Prieto Gómez. He comments that there are couples whose dynamics are based on very frequent communication through WhatsApp; If this is generalized, it can generate a lot of discomfort, since the other will not always be available to answer. “In cases in which this situation occurs constantly, a problem of emotional dependence can be hidden underneath,” he indicates. Ruth González adds that when these cases occur, many times we are not only talking about a burden, but also about insecurities. “Here we would be treating an insecure type of attachment, which rather than brings the couple closer, in most cases, moves away,” he indicates and adds that, in these cases, it is advisable to discuss this with a professional.

Five tips to use WhatsApp in a healthy way

Finally, both professionals leave a list of tips to interact in a healthy way with instant messaging:

  1. When we encounter difficulties in communication through WhatsApp, look for more efficient alternatives.
  2. Respect the moment of each one; not demand that they answer usimmediately or demand that we answerourselves.
  3. If it is urgent not to use this means of communication that is what callsor other means are for.
  4. Silence the groups inwhich we are involved and clean them up from time to time asking ourselves what we are in them for.
  5. Do not forget that WhatsApp is only one of the ways we communicate with others andthat the broader our range of communication, the better we will feel about ourselves and our relationships.


by Abdullah Sam
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