Need a vacation? Take a social media break!
Laurel Roe, MS CHR, MFT has a background in education and particularly enjoys working with families with members who have special needs, parenting issues, childhood developmental concerns, and anxiety in children, teens, and adults.
Taking a break from social media can provide many of the same health benefits as a traditional vacation. Whether we like it or not, social media is a ubiquitous part of our culture and our daily experiences. While studies vary about the amount of time we spend on social media, they are united in finding that its influence is increasingly significant.
The act of engaging in social media may be eliciting a variety of emotional responses and influencing you in ways you are unaware of. Your thoughts and opinions, your world view, and the way you feel towards others may be shaped by what you see on social media. It can even be contributing to feelings of anxiety and depression.
If you are curious about the impact social media may be having on your life, taking a vacation from it is an easy way to find out! Don’t be surprised if “breaking the chain” is more challenging than you expected — you might discover some of these benefits are worth it.
How often do you look at social media? When you have “a few minutes to fill” during the course of your day or at regular and consistent intervals? You may discover the minutes you spent looking at social media add up to as much as an hour (or more) each day. How would you choose to spend an extra hour each day if you had it?
The blue light emitted by screens signals our brains to stay awake. Staying off screens 90 minutes before bedtime allows your body to naturally unwind and relax. Taking a break from social media specifically at bedtime may allow you to fall asleep more easily and to have a more restful night.
More IRL Connection
Engaging with social media may make it seem as if you are connecting to many people, but it is largely a solitary activity. The ways in which we use social media and the information we take in from it can sometimes leave us feeling isolated and alienated. Moving away from social media allows more opportunities to engage with others in real life.
Studies have shown social media contributes to higher levels of anxiety in people for a variety of reasons. Are you afraid you will “miss out” if you aren’t connected to social networks? What happens to you when you discover something that makes you have an emotional reaction? Removing yourself from this process may help reduce feelings of worry, confusion, and even fear.
How we think and feel about things may be shaped, in part, by what we believe to be true for others. Interpreting posts on social media is highly subjective: they can be misleading, open to a wide range of interpretations, and can elicit a wide range of emotions. Taking note of how you react to social media may provide an incentive to see how that changes when you take a break from it.
Greater Sense of Control
Habits develop because we can easily engage in them without thinking. By becoming more thoughtful about how and why you use social media, you may discover you can meet those needs in other ways. This will help you pull back from the urge to use social media automatically and develop new strategies that feel more personal and effective.
As with typical vacations, a social media break allows you an opportunity to get to know yourself in a new way. By experimenting with ways in which you can cut off (or cut back) from social media, you may discover a new way to refresh and recharge.