The Health Benefits of Taking a Social Media Break
Social media is a world of its own. It is a place where millions of people have the opportunity to interact and connect simultaneously irrespective of geographic location.
Taking a social media break may be challenging and appear undoable in our highly digitalized world.
Social media started out as a way to interact and keep in touch with family and friends and even make new friends, but as time went by, different types of businesses took advantage of this new method of communication to reach out to potential customers.
People use social media for a lot of things. These includes sharing information, applying for jobs, creating contents such as blog posts, video contents, podcasts and so on, that reach millions of people across the world.
Following this analogy, it is right to say that social media has so much become a huge and important part of our daily lives, that many of us cannot go a day without being in the ‘social media’ world.
For many of us, being on social media is as necessary an activity as eating, drinking or taking a bath. It is like a synergy that we all flow with consciously and unconsciously, up to the point where we become addicted to it and feel we cannot survive without it.
Human beings are social animals. Because people have a strong need to socialize and interact, social media’s interconnectedness, user-generated content, interactivity and real time notifications features are part of what makes people so addicted.
As mentioned earlier, social media is deemed a necessary activity by most of us and we all get caught up in the rush eventually. But there should be a time to step back or take a break from all of it. You’d be surprised the amount of good that can do.
Social media has its benefits but also has corrosive effects. Spending too much time on social media can contribute to feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, poor sleep and low self-esteem. Staying away from social media for a day or two may actually help in alleviating some of these feelings and make you more productive. So, suffice to say that taking a break from social media is just as necessary as using it. There has to be a balance.
A lot of empirical studies have continually found direct correlations between social media use and stress. The direct relationship usually indicates that the use of social media causes stress or that stress triggers the use of social media. Either way, stress has very negative effects on the brain, which include short memory and depression.
A study conducted on both typical and excessive social media users found that abstaining from social media for about a week or two reduced stress significantly in both users.
The results were even more prominent in excessive social media users. Abstinence from social media makes you less susceptible to a high level of cortisol which is majorly induced by stress, and helps you stay calm and focused.
One of the downsides of constant social media use is irregular sleep. A lot of us are so intimate with our phones that it never leaves our side even when we sleep.
This intimacy distorts our sleeping pattern. The constant vibrations of notifications from social media apps disrupt healthy sleep.
One of the major factors that spur night-time use of social media for many individuals is the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). This ‘fear’ has driven many people to spend even more time at night on social media consequently leading to sleep difficulty and sleep disturbances.
Pausing social media use for a while and before bedtime prevents sleep problems, leading to better sleep and better sleep increases attentiveness, focus and happy living.
Being on social media for a long time creates this pressure to meet certain standards that are seen on the virtual space. There is this pressure to be as perfect as other people appear to be in their posts forgetting that most of these posts are actually curated.
This pressure weighs a person down unconsciously causing feelings of inadequacy which enhances feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression.
Common social media behaviors like regularly checking messages and addictive social media use has a direct link to a rise in anxiety, psychological distress and depression. In fact, it is considered a risk factor.
Limiting social media use for about 30 minutes each day can go a long way in improving mental health and reducing feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. You could even deliberately delete social media to enjoy a more content and less pressured life.
The average person spends around two to nine hours (or more) going through social media feeds. When you take a closer look, a lot of productive time is spent just on social media alone.
A lot of people spend more than half their productive time on social media right from their waking to their bed time, thereby being unproductive most of the time.
Therefore, when a hiatus is observed, our attention span increases and we have more time and energy to focus on different tasks thereby being more productive.
Asides completing tasks, we also have more time to concentrate on ourselves and our hobbies. When we then focus on ourselves, we are able to evaluate certain areas of our lives that need to be worked on. That’s being productive as well.
Social media is embedded into our daily lives and is here to stay. It is gradually becoming the world we live in. But then, one shouldn’t neglect its side effects because, like everything else, too much social media use is bad.
Taking a break and how long a person should stay off social media is entirely individual. It’s also up to you to decide whether or not you should take a social media break in the end.
But, if you must, just tailor your break to suit your situation or needs. It could be daily, weekly or even a month-long break. A little bit of experimenting can’t hurt.
However, if you are contemplating staying off social media for the sake of your mental health, it should be done intentionally. You could consider consulting a healthcare professional about excessive social media use and your health.