Imagine this scenario. You are feeling happy and contented, your life is going well at the moment. You absentmindedly reach for your phone and check Facebook. First, you see a post from an old colleague announcing they have just been offered your dream job. Then you see a post from your cousin ranting about politics. You then see photos from a former neighbour’s holiday that looks incredible. And finally, your sister in law posts some before and after pictures from her latest diet. The next thing you know, you’re questioning your career, feeling angry at the government, wondering why you can’t afford a decent holiday and googling a quick fix diet.
For some people, social media has become an emotional roller coaster of comparison, perfection and opinions. Many celebrities have taken a break from social media including Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid, Ed Sheeran, Kim Kardashian and Leslie Jones. And this is not just another celebrity fad. Studies have shown that spending too much time on social media can increase feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
As Alexis Ohanian (American internet entrepreneur) said, “It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time”. Now, you might be thinking that this is not a problem for you. But there are some signs that you may have an unhealthy relationship with social media.
• You become angry or anxious if you can’t access social media.
• You feel low, self-conscious or unworthy after using it.
• You spend more time on social media than interacting with others in real life.
• Checking it is the first thing you do in the morning.
• It isn’t fun anymore, but you can’t stop.
• You can’t stop comparing yourself and your life with others.
• You missed or forgotten about something important because you were on social media.
• Using social media provokes strong emotions – anger, depressed, etc.
• Rather than enjoy something, you prepare a post about it.
• You retreat to social media if you feel unhappy.
So what do you do? An important first step is to be mindful of your social media usage. Some apps provide usage information or you can keep a mental note of how much you use each and when. Being mindful of your usage – the intention and purpose of it – can be a revelation. Having a lockable case or some other barrier can help with this.
When having a break it’s good to, turning off notifications, set time limits for usage, and prioritise your own self-care with other activities you enjoy. As Caroline Ghosn (American businesswoman) said, “Your morning sets up the success of your day. So many people wake up and immediately check text messages, emails, and social media. I use my first hour awake for my morning routine of breakfast and meditation to prepare myself”. There is no prescribed amount of time you should stay off social media for. A few hours, days, or even weeks can all be beneficial to your health and wellbeing.
If you are struggling to successfully have a break then here are some ideas to help you.
• Leave your phone at home. Challenge yourself to leave your phone at home while shopping or exercising.
• Create phone-free places. Perhaps no phones in the bedroom. Reducing blue light in your bedroom will help your quality of sleep.
• Create phone-free times. Perhaps no phones at meal times, family times, etc.
• Use Airplane Mode. This will stop notification. Perhaps use this at bedtime or other restful times.
• Try a weekend off. Sign out of all your social media apps on Saturday morning tor Friday night. Resist the urge to log on until Monday morning.
• Specify a time each day or week when you allow yourself to look at social media. Perhaps fifteen minutes at lunchtime or only on a Sunday morning.
Don’t worry about missing anything during your break. All the news and content will be there when you come back. Doing this will help you find more “you time”. All the inspiration and connections you need are all already around you. You just need to stop and look around once in a while.
If you are struggling then Hypnotherapy can help with breaking habits and addictions. Hypnotherapy can also be an effective way to help you with stress, anxiety and burnout. If you feel this could be for you, then contact me.