What might your emotional wellness resemble in a world without web-based entertainment? It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? It’s hard for many of us to remember what we did before the feed because we’re so involved with our social media accounts. There are many benefits to connecting online, but how can we strike a balance with the constant stream of information from celebrities, friends, and brands vying for our attention? You might spend hours and hours on social media if you’re anything like me. And if you do, you’re probably already aware of the infinite scroll on TikTok or the early-morning doomscrolling on Twitter. Yet, excessive social media use has been associated with worsening depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other side effects. Of course, everything in excess is unhealthy, and we don’t frequently pause to reflect on or monitor how much time we spend on social media. We’ll discuss the pros and reasons for taking a social media break in this article, as well as provide some insight into what happens when a Chronically Online person (i.e., me) decides to take one.
Effects of social media on mental health
Several studies have supported the detrimental consequences of social networking. An international poll done in 2022 in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Norway discovered that people’s mental health suffered when they used social media for entertainment or to combat loneliness during the pandemic. According to a 2021 survey by ExpressVPN, 86 percent of 1,500 Americans said social media has a detrimental impact on their happiness and self-image. Addiction to social media is another possibility. The definition of social media addiction is “an overwhelming want to use social media and spending so much time and energy on it that it interferes with other aspects of life.”
You might need to take a break from social media if any of this applies to you. There may be other indications that you need to take a break, even if you aren’t quite at the point of addiction or bad mental health:
- Frequent irritation or displeasure with popular posts or subjects
- Evaluating oneself in relation to others
- Having difficulties falling asleep and opening social media first thing in the morning
- Experiencing or observing a rise in the symptoms of anxiety or depression
- Being active in social media for a long period
- Disappointed because a post or comment did not receive any response
- Losing concentration, missing deadlines, or ignoring duties
- Experiencing bodily pain if you have to take a break from using social media
Benefits of taking social media breaks
Even taking a little break from social media has many advantages. Many studies on the results of limiting time on social media have produced some intriguing results:
- According to this study from 2021, restricting social media use for a week enhanced wellbeing by avoiding sleep issues.
- Another study conducted in 2021 discovered that most students had an uptick in mood, a decrease in anxiety, and better sleep both during and right after taking a vacation from social media.
- Participants were instructed to refrain from using social media for a week by the authors of a 2020 study. Following the abstinence phase, they report a considerable improvement in their mental health and social connectedness.
- According to a 2018 study, both typical and excessive social media users experienced a reduction in stress after forgoing social media use for around a week, with the latter group experiencing the effects more strongly.
- And this 2018 study discovered that restricting social media use to no more than 30 minutes each day dramatically decreased depressive and lonely sensations.
Setting healthy social media boundaries
Even though it’s good to take breaks from social media, it’s important to be realistic about how you use it. That’s fine if social media is a part of your life. There are ways to maximize the benefits of social media while minimizing its drawbacks. You can, for instance:
- Unfollow accounts that make you feel down or hurt your perception of yourself.
- Remove any pictures from your profile that make you feel like you should be better.
- Remove any offensive DMs, spam, or trolling.
- You should delete posts that encourage you to compare yourself to other people.
Additionally, you can lead by example by publishing thoughtfully and authentically so that others may be motivated by your feed and decide to do the same. To begin, you can:
- Remove the filter and present the true you.
- Share pictures of “messy” situations as well as the ideal ones.
- With your captions, remind readers that you’re a genuine person with quirks, phobias, and insecurities just like them.
- Leave supportive remarks on other people’s postings.
- As you take breaks, post about them to encourage others to do the same.
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