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How a social media detox can help your mental health

3rd December 214 mins
By Toucan

How a social media detox can help your mental health

Whether we can admit it or not, we have all become social media addicts. It could be sitting on the train, in a restaurant, or watching TV; our phones are always within reach, ready to pick up if a notification comes through. Social media has become central to our lives, but have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you deleted it all? 

The number of social media sites we use is more than the average number of close friends we have. Let that sink in for a minute! 

Social media usage has significantly increased in recent years, with about 4.48 billion users worldwide. While it is a great tool to connect you with others, seeing things that can make you feel sad, anxious, or bad about yourself can have a serious impact on your mental health. 

Increasingly, people have been taking steps to combat this negative impact through a social media detox. It is a time where a person takes a break or refrains from using social media. Millennials (aged 25-44) are the most likely group to take a break from social media, with 43% admitting to deleting a social media app in the past. 

You might find several different benefits from taking a social media detox and realise that you do not need to rely on these platforms as much. Want to know the benefits of a social media detox and how it may help your mental health? We’ve compiled this helpful list.

It may help you sleep better

Raise your hand if you sleep with your phone? It is a pretty frequent experience, but it can take its toll on your sleeping habits. It can be tempting to flick open an app and take a scroll, and before you know it hours have passed, and it is gone midnight. But don’t worry, we’ve all been there at least once. 

The artificial light from your phone can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin - which is the hormone responsible for helping you get to sleep. So looking at the brightly lit screen while scrolling through the endless social platforms before settling in can disrupt your ability to fall asleep. 

Needless to say, taking some time away from social media and your phone might just help you get to sleep faster and better. 

It could reduce anxiety

The way we compare our lives with others on social media can trigger anxiety. An American study looked at the relationship between social media and anxiety and found that as phone usage increased, so did anxiety levels. 

Social media has caused us to become competitive. We all want to get as many likes on our posts as possible and we can fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with others. The repetitive cycle of uploading and checking the number of likes can increase anxiety, even if we don’t realise it. 

We check our phones first thing in the morning and last thing at night, so taking a break from technology and social media could help us mitigate our anxieties. 

It encourages mindfulness

We tend to use our phones as boredom busters; keeping our heads down while scrolling can distract us from engaging with what is around us. Taking time offline can help us become more present and mindful in other activities and experiences in life. 

Some ideas of mindful activities include walking, cooking, yoga, and gardening. These can all be good for your mind and let you focus on yourself; rather than others. These quiet moments are important for your mental health and can be done alone or with company.

Read: the top 5 mental health podcasts

It may improve productivity

This is one of the most significant positive effects of taking a detox from social media. The over-use of social media platforms can hamper productivity with its continuous notifications, taking focus away from other things. One study reveals that platforms like Facebook can distort time perception due to attention-grabbing content. 

This perception can make us believe that we aren’t spending too much time on social media – after all, it’s just five minutes here and there. Another study found that one-third of workers spend time on social media during their working hours, meaning their productivity is not as high. A social media detox could show a boost in your productivity levels. 

It’s important to understand and remember that social media is a fake world. Content is filtered and doesn’t always show a realistic picture. It can take its toll on our mental health, so taking a break if it gets too much is always a good idea. 

You don’t necessarily need to give up on social platforms altogether. You could decide to take a break once every week, delete apps, or have a dedicated day every month where you stay off your phone. There are several options to choose from, and each person is different in their approach – so however you decide to take a break, make sure it makes a difference to you! 

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