Way back in 2012, a 14-year-old me discovered Instagram, and from that day forward social media took up a large part of my daily life and interactions. Back when the app was first created, its sole purpose was to simply share your photos with friends instantly. Now, it is SO much more – it’s a platform where you can share content, chat with friends using messenger, catch up on the latest news or do some shopping. For some, it’s even become a source of income! Social media apps are constantly evolving, bringing new features and content that make them even more enticing.
I check social media multiple times a day (more times than I’d care to admit). First thing in the morning, I’ll find myself checking notifications and swiping through content that I might have missed out on whilst I was sleeping. And I know that I’m not the only one.
Unfortunately, platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter (to name a few) have become a vital element of our social interactions. According to reports, the number of internet users worldwide in 2019 was upwards of 3.48 billion and it’s estimated that over 210 million people suffer from internet and social media addictions worldwide. Most people will be reluctant to admit the role that social media plays in their everyday lives. This is because more often than not, it plays a HUGE part in it. Whether it’s work-related or social, it seems that everything revolves around having a presence online.
In a generation where social media permeates most aspects of our lives, we forget about the world outside of our devices and the people around us. This is why it’s so essential to have some time away and get back to appreciating the basics. This is why I have come up with 3 reasons why a break from social media will genuinely improve your life.
1. You’ll be Focused
“Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.”JAY BAER, CONVINCE & CONVERT
For me, checking my social media accounts throughout the day has become a natural part of my routine. As soon as the screen lights up I’m grabbing my phone to check the notifications. When it comes to completing important tasks, social media, in particular, can be a huge distraction. According to a study by Gloria Mark, it takes around 25 minutes on average to regain focus on a task after being interrupted. Every time you check your phone, you’re losing almost half an hour of concentration you could have committed to something more important.
If like me you often find yourself procrastinating on your phone while you’re working on something important, turning on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ will mute your phone whilst it’s locked. However, the most obvious and effective solution is to simply turn the device off and place it in a draw. This reduces the temptation and will allow you to commit fully to a task.
Not only can your devices distract you from working during the day, but they can also distract you from sleeping too. Using your phone for even up to 2 hours before you go to bed will affect your quality of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, using electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock and suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it difficult to fall asleep. This will, in turn, have an impact on the way you function the following day. In the two hours before sleeping, turning off your phone is extremely important. Replacing the time, you would usually spend on social media with books, music or even just talking will massively improve your quality of sleep leaving you refreshed and energized the next day.
2. Your Mental Health Will Improve
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”Steven Furtick
While social media can often be a positive and inspiring place, it can also encourage a more negative state of mind. When scrolling through Instagram, I often feel that I’m bombarded with content from bloggers, influencers and celebrities flaunting their (seemingly) jet-set, perfect and lavish lifestyles. Being constantly exposed to this content can drastically affect your self-confidence and perception of your own life. I will often find myself fantasising over the illusion of particular social media accounts and it’s become very easy to do so. However, the reality is that most of what you see is completely fabricated. The likelihood of people showing the grittier parts of their lives to others on social media is very low.
In a survey taken by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement in 2017, 1,479 young people aged 14-24 were asked to score social media apps on issues like anxiety, depression, FOMO (fear of missing out) and body-image. Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook ranked highest in having the most negative effect on mental health.
This is why it is so important to take spend time away from social media. When you stop focusing on what’s happening in other people’s lives, you’ll appreciate the positive aspects of you and your own life.
Another simple way to avoid the social comparison is by unfollowing the accounts that are triggering the negative mindset, a follow some positive accounts instead. Users like ‘femalecollective’ and ‘mindset.therapy’ on Instagram, promote empowering and uplifting messages that will inspire their followers.
3. You’ll Appreciate Living in The Moment
“The next message you need is always right where you are.”RAM DASS
Although social media can provide us with an amazing opportunity to connect with people wherever and whenever we like, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in our online lives and forget the non-digital, real world. Our lives are orientated around everything online and technical and taking time away to commit to things going on in the real world is imperative.
There is a common habit amongst this generation that most aspects of life should be shared to social media. According to articles by Wired and Internet Live Stats, there are around 500,000,000 tweets every day and 95,000,000 to Instagram. These posts can include everything from a selfie to your pets, landscape and even your breakfast. But is it really necessary? When taking a social media break, you begin to appreciate the things you see in the moment rather instant grabbing your phone to share it with other people.
Taking a break from social media can also free up a lot of your spare time. In the time you’d usually spend senselessly scrolling through repetitive content, there are lots more engaging and productive activities to pursue. Taking up a new hobby such as photography is a great way to distract yourself from social media. It is not only rewarding to see the art you’ve created but allows you to get outdoors and see new things.
With social media giving us the ability to speak to people with a couple of taps from wherever we are in the world, we forget the importance of a psychical, human connection. Meeting up with friends or joining a group involving something you’re interested is a great way to connect with people and even improve your social skills.
While social media can have its benefits, more good than harm will come from taking some time away to appreciate real people and the physical world. By doing this, we allow ourselves an opportunity to become more inspired and productive and be less concerned with what we might be missing out on.