Dr. Bert Price
In today’s world, it’s hard to imagine life without social media. We’re constantly scrolling through our feeds, checking notifications, and liking posts. While social media can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, it’s important to recognize the impact it can have on our mental health. Studies show that excessive use of social media can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. It is important to know how social media can impact your health and your mood.
How Social Media Can Impact Your Health
Social Media Can Decrease Sleep Quality
Long periods of time spent on our phones exposes us to what is called “blue light,” which can negatively impact our sleep quality. Even dim light can interfere with a person’s ability to fall asleep. Researchers have pointed to short sleep as a risk factor for depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems – meaning that we may be trading restful sleep for scrolling on social media.
Social Media Comments Can Have Long-term Impacts
Negative comments on social media are not uncommon, likely due to a person’s ability to hide behind a screen. And as younger generations spend more time on social media compared to older generations, the risks are greater. According to a 2018 Pew Research study, 59% of U.S. teens have personally experienced at least one of six types of abusive online behaviors – including name-calling, spreading rumors, and physical threats. Being the recipient of these acts can influence mental health and we’re witnessing a strong association between social media use and depression in U.S. young adults.
If you’re feeling negative effects of social media, it may be time to unplug. Despite social media helping us be more informed than ever, there are several benefits to taking a break.
Benefits of A Social Media Break
Unplug and Create Boundaries
Unplugging can give you a break from the near constant information and stimuli that social media provides. This can help you feel more grounded and present in the moment, which is important for your mental health. Taking time offline can also help you establish healthier boundaries with social media. It can be easy to spend hours scrolling through your feed, but by setting limits on your social media use, you can create more balance in your life. In fact, it can even lead to positive changes in your mood, sleep, and anxiety – a small study published in 2021 by the Libyan Journal of Medicine found.
Enhance In-Person Relationships
Another benefit of unplugging from social media is that it can help you connect more deeply with the people around you. When we’re constantly checking our phones, we’re not fully present in our interactions with others. By unplugging, we can give our full attention to the people we’re with, which can lead to stronger relationships and greater feelings of social connection.
If you’re ready to press pause on your social media use, here are some tips to get started:
- Set limits: Decide how much time you want to spend on social media each day and stick to it.
- Turn off notifications: This will help you resist the urge to constantly check your phone.
- Create a new routine: Replace your social media time with a new activity that you enjoy, such as reading a book or going for a walk.
- Be mindful: Pay attention to how you feel when you’re using social media. If you notice negative emotions, it may be time to take a break.
By taking a break from social media, you can improve your mental wellbeing, connect more deeply with others, and establish healthier boundaries with technology. So, take a break and give yourself the gift of unplugging.
Support & Lifelines
If you are experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety or depression, reach out for support.
Crisis Text Line: Text 741741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
UAMS AR ConnectNow