Social media has been integrated into our everyday life so much so that most people have become addicted to the never-ending scroll of our newsfeeds.
A recent study from the University of Queensland (UQ) found there are many beneficial reasons to delete your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Dr. Eric Vanman from the UQ School of Psychology said that having a short break from Facebook can decrease people’s stress levels.
“Taking a Facebook break for just five days reduced a person’s level of the stress hormone cortisol,” Dr. Vanman said.
“However, while participants in our study showed an improvement in physiological stress by giving up Facebook, they also reported lower feelings of wellbeing.”
He said this was because people felt disconnected and unsatisfied with their life. They were counting down the days until they could go back onto Facebook.
Although experts say that social media facilitates social interaction between people, normalizes help-seeking behavior and inspires healthier lifestyle choices, people still can become addicted to their smartphones.
Taking a break from social media may create many benefits to your life. So, here are five reasons as to why you should have a break from social media:
- You’ll reconnect with your relationships
Sometimes social media has the uncanny knack of blurring the lines between real and online relationships. A study showed that the overuse of Facebook is connected to loneliness, depression and social isolation. It is important to be around real people, like friends and family, to re-invigorate your in-person interactions. Online, it is all too easy to be someone you’re not. For instance, catfishing is a problem where a person pretends to be another to either bait or trick someone. So, putting down your smartphone will help you reconnect with those around you.
- Stop constantly comparing and competing
Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are notorious for people feeling like they must outdo others. It can make them feel like they’re failing at life, because the people around them are doing “better” things like traveling, getting married or buying a new home. It can really have an impact on your self-esteem. Your self-worth sometimes can be dependent on how many likes or shares you get on one post and if you get less, this impacts your mood. So, taking a break might help stop the unhealthy cycle and improve your confidence and self-esteem.
- You’ll be more at the moment
The saying “if it wasn’t on social media, it didn’t happen” makes people rather anxious to enjoy their surroundings without having a screen in front of them to post updates. Professor Andrew Lepp from the Kent State University said that this fear of missing out drives anxiety, as when people place photos from where they are, it seems better than where you are. It seems funny to think that we might enjoy our surroundings more if we would just put down our phones.
- You might sleep better
Constantly having your smartphone at your side can take a toll on how you sleep. A survey conducted by the Bank of America found 71 percent of 1,000 Americans sleep with or beside their mobile phones. According to the National Sleep Foundation, every smartphone emits a blue light that can affect the level of melatonin your body makes– the hormone that helps you sleep. So, if you continuously look at your social media posts before bedtime, it may interfere with your sleeping ability.
Scrolling through your newsfeed can take up hours of time. So, it’s natural to assume that if you are going on a social media cleanse, you will be free to do other things. You could read a book, take up hiking or have more time to binge watch your favorite television show. If you track how much time you spend on social media every day, you might be surprised to find out the results.
Although social media offers a platform that allows us to constantly keep in touch with our friends and family wherever in the world they are, it can take a toll on us psychologically.
This doesn’t mean you need to give up it all together, but scheduling breaks in your week may help you reconnect with reality and the world around you. Your sleeping patterns may improve, as well as your overall level of happiness.
About the Author
Dr. Ryan Harvey is a General Practitioner providing after-hours medical care to children and families. Dr. Harvey is experienced in paediatrics and has traveled extensively, administering medical care to children in remote overseas communities. He now works with many families, administering acute care when unexpected medical situations arise overnight. Dr. Harvey is one of the many doctors with House Call Doctor, an organization that provides urgent after-hours medical care to residents in Queensland when their regular GP is closed.