On Friday evening, you probably had great expectations from the weekend. You thought about waking up early, going for that jog you've always contemplated about and then catching up on your favourite book. Sure, you also allotted some time for your snooze-fest because sleeping in is equally crucial. But looking back at two days ago, you've presumably failed to keep up with most of your plans.
Instead of everything you thought about, you ended up staying up late on Friday night binge-watching on a series you've watched a million times. You woke up shamefully late on Saturday, and the first thing you did was scroll through your social media feed. And what's that? Oh, another long-lost friend of yours posted a picture of her engagement! "During a pandemic?" you scoff. But you managed to put it aside and get on with your day. Or so you think! It stayed in your mind long enough for you to be distracted all day.
Now, your mind has wandered further into a dark abyss. And you're left thinking about your choices as an adult. Your Saturday whizzes by just like that — and now it is nighttime. Your worried self scrolls aimlessly through Twitter, hoping to get your mind off your life. But instead, you're greeted by disturbing news and visuals of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. So, on Sunday evening, if you're looking for a sign to get off your social media, we're here to give you one today. However, if you still need a reason to go on your long-pending hiatus, here's why it is vital for your mental health:
Should you really cut yourself off of social media?
The short answer is no. With the digital age upon us, it is physically impossible to distance ourselves from social media. In fact, staying away could also cause concern, as most of what is happening in the world reaches us via online media. That said, anything in excess poses more harm than good.
According to a study published in Guilford Journals, decreasing the time you spend on social media can help lower loneliness and depression. It further suggests users put a tab on social media consumption to barely 30 minutes a day. So, instead of enthusiastically going cold turkey, perhaps it is more advisable to take some time off. We have a list of common signs that will tell you if you're eligible for a social media break. Here are they:
- You find yourself comparing: Social media is an excellent platform to keep in touch with people and learn about what's going on in their lives. But if scrolling through your feed makes you feel upset and inadequate about yourself, it is a sure sign that you need a break. It is essential to remember that what people show of their lives on social media isn't always what it is. And since it is uncommon for most to post about their heartbreaks and divorces, it is easy to feel like they're having the time of their lives. But if this reason doesn't always calm you down, you're probably due for a break.
- Nothing online makes you happy anymore: It is indeed a dark time if you can no longer find happiness in a cute puppy or kitten video! Today, there's more death and despair on our feed than there is positivity. However, if everything beginning from memes to politics begins to boil your blood -- then we'd suggest taking the high road and quitting social media for a while. This action, known as 'doomscrolling', this phenomenon actively stresses you out, and we certainly don't need that in 2021!
- You're constantly scrolling: Your idea of a break during office hours is to scroll through your feed — so much that it has become the new 'smoke break'. In fact, you don't remember what it's like to sit still without having to look into your phone. So, if that's not a cause for concern — we don't know what is! And this applies to scrolling through all sorts of device, your desktop, smartwatch or smartphone. If you have a hard time looking away from the screen, this article is for you.
- You panic when there's no internet: That email from your boss can wait -- especially when you're out of data or away on holiday. But if it actively stresses you out to not check your timeline and apps, you require a virtual hiatus. A couple of days away from your phone shouldn't give you more anxiety than peace. If it does, you're probably doing it wrong!
- You can't seem to enjoy it without posting it online first: You're finally catching up with your significant other after a week of busy schedules. You end up going to a fancy restaurant for your lunch date, and the first thing you do is Snapchat a picture of it to your friends. That right there is a red flag you might've missed! If that's not all, you also find yourself refreshing your feed time and again to see how many views/likes you've received on your photo. That in itself screams 'social media break' like no other — and you should look into it.
- It is the first (and last) thing you do in the day: Do you reach for your phone as soon as you're up? Is it to turn off the annoying alarm sound or to see what's been up on your social media feed? If you (like us) spend more time doing the latter, there's no surprise that your day starts off with a lag. Another study published by Sleep Research Society explains how social media links to sleep disturbance in young adults. Exposing yourself to a lot of screen time before bed also stimulates your brain and makes it challenging to fall asleep.
In moderation, social media can be a great source of news and entertainment. However, keeping a tab is equally essential for your well-being and mental health. So, take time off for that book you've always wanted to read. Re-pot the basil plant left idle in your backyard. You will soon realise that there's a lot of time for yourself once you set your phone away.