Whether you realize it or not, chances are you’ve become addicted to social media and it’s affecting your mental health in a very negative way.
In this article, we’re going to dive into what social media is doing to your mental health and how you’ll benefit from a social media detox.
Read on to learn more.
What Social Media Is Doing to Your Mental Health
As human beings, we’re naturally social creatures. We’re just not chemically engineered to be alone 100% of the time. We need companionship to thrive, and the strength of the connections we make with others has a very large impact on our mental health and overall happiness.
When we’re socially connected to others, we feel less stress and anxiety. We also feel a greater sense of self-worth and often partake in giving or receiving comfort and joy. Studies even suggest that having an active social life can help you live longer.
Of course, that means that a lack of strong social connections can impact your mental and emotional health negatively and severely.
Over recent years, we have become obsessed with and dependent upon social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and so on. We use these apps to find and connect with one another, make statements, review businesses, start our own businesses, date, get updates on current events, and of course, for entertainment.
Especially during the recent pandemic that’s had everyone self-isolating, scrolling through our social media feeds has become a non-stop habit. While there are plenty of positive benefits to using social media, there’s one incredibly risky downside: It’s destroying our mental health.
It’s important to keep in mind that although connecting with family and friends via social media can have a positive impact on our mental health, that impact is very short-lived. This is because social media can never be a replacement for an in-person, human connection.
It takes physical human contact with friends and family to trigger the hormones that alleviate stress, making us feel happier, more positive, and healthier. This is something that social media can never do for us.
In fact, many studies have demonstrated an increasingly alarming link between social media and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
The general consensus among psychologists is that especially our younger generations are spending more time socializing via social media apps than they are in real life. The issue with this is that these electronic modes of communication don’t provide any emotional satisfaction, which leads to greater feelings of social isolation—contributing to the rise in depressive cases they’ve been seeing.
It’s also widely theorized that social media is directly linked to a decrease in self-esteem, especially in young adults, adolescents, and pre-pubescent teenagers. This is because we compare ourselves to others’ highlight reels, similarly to how women would compare themselves to the models they would see in beauty magazines before social media took over.
Now it’s not just unattainable beauty standards being shoved down our throats—it’s the accomplishments, fun, and lives that our friends, family members, and total strangers are achieving, having, and leading.
When we see how well others are doing, we tend to feel worse about ourselves if we’re not doing as well, or “living our best lives,” as all the influencers like to say. It’s enough to make us not only want to quit social media but give up on life in general.
How to Do a Social Media Detox
If anything mentioned above feels familiar to you, then it’s probably time to take a nice long social media break.
Of course, this is easier said than done considering that we use social media for just about everything. So, here are a few actionable tips to help you get started on your social media detox:
- Delete or block your most-used apps. Don’t worry, this is only temporary—but it is a requirement. You need to quit cold turkey. Lingering apps will only tempt you, which is also why you should use an app that blocks social media from your phone or computer.
- Make a list of alternatives. Now that you’ll have more time on your hands, you’re going to need to stay busy to avoid scrolling. Make a list of things you want to do or accomplish during this detox, such as get into a new fitness routine, practicing meditation, start a new hobby, read books, learn a new language, etc.
- Spend more time with friends and family. The whole reason for this detox is to improve your mental health, and that’s exactly what spending time with the people you care about will do. So, start scheduling activities and meetups with your favorite people—bonus points if those meetings involve spending time in nature.
- Create a bedtime and wake-up routine. This one is for the individuals that like to spend their first and last waking moments scrolling aimlessly. Not only does the blue light affect your circadian rhythm, messing with your sleep, but looking at social media first thing in the morning can ruin your day before it starts. So, practice giving yourself and your phone a bedtime, and create a new morning routine that doesn’t involve opening your lock screen—that includes checking your email!
- Set boundaries. Eventually, you’re going to want to rejoin the social media world, and that’s okay. However, you need to set boundaries beforehand to void spiraling back into your old obsessive scrolling habits. So, figure out which times would be appropriate to log onto your Instagram or Twitter account and don’t go beyond the allotted time you give yourself to scroll.
You may be concerned about missing out on everything, but we can assure you that the current information you’re consuming isn’t feeding your soul. It’s distracting you. If there’s news you need to know, you’ll find out about it from your friends and family.
Once you take a nice long social media break, you’ll find that you have so much more time, energy, and motivation to do the things you’ve actually been wanting to do. You’ll also feel much happier and more positive about yourself and your life once you stop obsessively viewing what others are doing with theirs.