It’s said nothing is healthy in excess amounts. That rings true in social media as well. That’s why the idea of a social media break pops into my mind from time to time, asking myself, “Come on, let’s have a decent break!” Does it worth it? In this article, we answer this conventional question honestly!
If you’re anything like me, you may spend hours and hours browsing social media— for the sake of socialising, leaving a comment, relaying a comment, or creating content and watching the results.
And if you do, then you’ve probably heard before about how to stop TikTok infinite scroll or the disadvantages of doomscrolling on Twitter and Instagram first thing in the morning.
We all are familiar with how social media can hurt our sanity. Excessive use of social media platforms has been linked to anxiety, lack of sleep and concentration, increased depression, and other harmful effects.
However, our time on social media is often overlooked— we don’t often stop to think about how many hours have passed. No one checks the time we should stop.
In this article, we will share the reasons and benefits of considering a social media break, as well as insights into what happens when someone is described as a chronically online person (aka me) who decides to press pause for a while to take their breath.
Why Social Media Break: Numbers You Need to Know
Let’s answer this intriguing question I’ve stumbled upon online: what would our mental health look like in a peaceful world without social media?
Yes, it would be calmer and much noise would be muted for good.
However, it’s pretty hard to imagine.
Our life becomes so mixed up with our social media accounts. So many of us need help remembering what we used to do before the feed.
It’s difficult to imagine— really difficult.
There are plenty of upsides to connecting the world online (at least my job is mainly based on online and social media) — but how do we find balance on this nervous planet?
We are loaded with the constant flurry of increasing input from friends, brands, family, and celebrities constantly vying for our attention.
It’s easy to say, okay, let’s turn off all these things. It seems easy to press deactivation to close and shut it off, doesn’t it?
Everyone who has tried to do so knows how it’s hard.
In a survey conducted by Healthline, readers were asked to express how they feel about social media.
Of those tested, 25% said it has a real negative effect on their life, particularly mental well-being. However, more than half of the sample (53%) said that cutting down hours of consuming social media could help.
But this number jumps to 66% among those with a mental health condition which started or worsened during the pandemic.
On top of that, around 29% said they needed at least a few days to take a break as they heard about the benefits of a social media hiatus, while that number increased to 46% of respondents among 15 to 24 years old.
So, what do studies have to say about the effects of social media on our mental health and well-being? You may be surprised to learn most research aren’t too favourable.
In fact, your brain is begging you to close this article now and resume scrolling your social accounts to find something more interesting.
A 2015 study found children in the UK were twice as likely to report very high scores for mental ill-health in case they used social media networking websites for more than 3 hours or on a school day. (now, it might be doubled!)
Another study in 2018 found a direct link between minimising social media usage and improvements in loneliness and depression.
In 2021, ExpresVPN released its survey findings, with 86% of the sample of 1500 Americans reporting that social media negatively impacts their self-image and happiness. In addition, 79% and 83% reported negative effects on loneliness, depression and anxiety.
A 2022 cross-national online study for the UK, the United States, Australia, and Norway reported that those who used social media to decrease loneliness or for entertainment during the pandemic experienced the opposite— poor mental health.
69% of adults and nearly 81% of teens in the United States use social media, based on a survey published by the Pew Research Center. Unfortunately, that puts many of the population at risk of feeling depressed, anxious, or ill over their social media usage.
Approximately 86% of 18-to 29-years olds use several social media platforms. However, 80% of people aged 30-49 and 64% of 50-64 people are on social media.
Even 33% of people aged 65 use social media.
The Pew Centre found that 97% of teenagers ages 13 to 17 have at least one social media account.
The National Institute of Mental Health showed that the lifetime prevalence of mental health complications among adolescents is nearly 50%, and 22% of adolescents will suffer from severe mental impairment.
But we can not stop it easily!
More than 6 out of 10 men and 5 out of women suffer from social media addiction, according to Cross River Therapy.
Young adults aged between 18 and 25 have the highest tendency to be affected by mental illness of any adult age group: 25%. Young adults between 26 to 49 have a 22% prevalence, and 50-years people and older have around 13.8%.
Even though using social media for personal connection and maintaining relationships is associated with enhancing our mental health, reality tells us it’s not.
There was still a correlation between increased hours on social media and the poorer mental health we experienced.
On the other hand, a pilot study in 2021 with a broad base of 68 university students found that many students reported a positive change in their mood, improved sleep, and reduced anxiety during and immediately after bringing down daily social media usage or even trying a social media break.
Indeed, the data seems pretty clear! So if you don’t want to experience anxiety, poor self-image, loneliness, depression, and even poor sleep, making some tweaks to social media consumption may be a good idea to start healing your mind from this chase.
Signs Tell You a Break is a Must
But when should you take a social media break? If you are not sure about your healthy habits, check these signs:
*Please note you can experience one or all of them; it depends. But as a general rule, try to unplug frequently, especially if you consume it heavily.
You Start Scrolling Without Even Realising
There is something addictive about social media that is comforting to us. That even prevents us from having a new smoke break. From out of nowhere, we find ourselves holding our phones and start scrolling without even realising it. If any task you should do ends up keeping checking accounts, it could be an indicator that you’re turning out to be too absorbed.
You Can’t Stop Comparing
It’s one of the most severe social media problems! It’s often said that these platforms are a highlight reel of other people’s lives. However, it shouldn’t make you feel bad about yourself, dissatisfied or inadequate with your own life.
It’s not common to post about your failure, divorce, hardship and sadness, but all those things are part of our life journey; everyone experiences them. Unfortunately, these hard times are still happening for us.
If you have difficulty reminding yourself that nobody’s life is flawless, despite what they show, it should be time to take a social media break.
You Feel Panicked If You Can’t Check Your Timeline
Can you make it through a short trip to the grocery store or a meeting without experiencing separation anxiety from using social media? Are you itching to share an Instagram story, write a tweet, or update your status with a hilarious post and can’t think about anything but when you can go back to your social accounts?
You need a break.
You Get Easily Annoyed by Everything You See
From politics to oversharing, you might get overwhelmed, annoyed, distracted, or angry at what you see on your timeline. Or you’re even stressed out by what you’re watching because you took things too far. So stopping doomscrolling should be the first thing you need to consider.
You Can’t Value What You Have
Suppose you can’t enjoy wherever you plan to go without posting about it first. You can’t put your device down at your family’s gathering or friend’s wedding without capturing a picture. Then, you spend half the evening checking how many likes you gain. It’s a lot of your energy!
You Spend A LOT of Time Browsing and Scrolling
Spending little sessions here and there might be harmless, but it adds up. One study reported that people interact with their phones a whopping 2,617 times daily. This time splits between scrolling, texting, and clicking— you can name it— take a clue from people around you.
Ask your friend or spouse what they think of your social media habits. You will be surprised.
Social Media isn’t a Fun Thing For You Anymore
Being active or even having a social media profile is not an obligation. Social media platforms were designed to have fun, a way for people to connect and interact.
Yes, it becomes more commercial, but you don’t have to take it seriously. If it’s lost its joy and lustre, maybe it’s worth stepping away from.
If it’s the First Thing You Check in the Morning and the Last You See at Night
Well, it’s a controversial subject of matter. So many people welcome their day by checking their smartphones and falling asleep while scrolling. But it’s something you should change for your good.
One study found that 80% of phone users checked their social accounts within 15 minutes of waking up. This simple act has been linked to increased stress and anxiety, not to mention it hijacks your attention and time (absolutely will make you late).
On the other hand, looking at your phone before sleeping has also been shown to stimulate your brain and lead to sleep complications.
In a nutshell, your timeline can be like a giant celebration of all the beautiful things other people are doing. Yes, we know it’s just one side of everyone’s life, but it’s hard to be resilient and step back and remind yourself that nobody’s life is fun and exciting 24/7.
If you’re not careful and watch your feelings, you can get caught up in feeling like your life isn’t nearly as brilliant as other people’s lives. You never know what goes on when the video isn’t rolling or behind closed doors.
But if you can not fight these thoughts, a social media break is a must.
What Happened When I Decided, Enough is Enough
That happened when I felt exhausted watching everyone succeed, and satisfaction seemed impossible. My anxiety was getting worse, and my productivity was cut down. I always feel distracted, and many of the previous symptoms started showing up.
I decided, okay, let’s have a social media break and see what would happen. So I deleted Facebook and demotivated Instagram— the primary resource for consuming my time.
I stopped using Facebook so far but got back to Instagram after one week.
So, what did I feel about this experience?
AWESOME. During the whole week, I felt discounted, which was GREAT. I chose what I wanted to know. I spent more hours on Google Chrome, reading blogs and checking some facts about digital marketing. I used Reddit and Quora a lot instead.
The effects of technology on my mental health are undeniable. People who rely entirely on social media for fun, entertainment, or to eliminate loneliness from their real lives suffer from more compound and compromised mental health compared to others who don’t.
All this is to say, taking a social media break, even if it’s sporadic.
You can start once in six months. It will cause you less discomfort than you might think. It could make you more patient or creative with consuming your time online.
Explore more fun-free websites to cure boredom. It will drive you to rethink your relationship with the social world and set healthier boundaries.
A Social Media Break: How Can I Make it
If you want to take a social media break, let’s explain how. Here are some tips I have followed during my break.
Set a Limit
The first step to taking a break from social media is limiting your time on each platform each day. Many ways can be included in this step. Use an app or timer to track your usage and be stuck to your limit.
That will help you be more mindful of how much you waste daily on social networks and hopefully reduce the amount of time you spend there overall. You can set it up through the application itself.
Otherwise, Apple devices come with screen time tracking monitoring automatically where you spend your time. Also, you can try apps like Forest and Space to help you manage your usage.
When You’re Ready, Delete the Apps
If setting a limit doesn’t work for you, try getting rid of the whole thing by deleting the social media apps from your smartphone.
That is a more extreme measure, but it can effectively break your unhealthy habit. Remember, you can always re-download any app if you need it. For example, when I stopped using social media, I often needed to get into one app to grab links or screenshots.
But you would be amazed much there is to do without boredom-induced Facebook deep-dives into your friend’s niece’s account.
You Don’t Need to Stop Using All Social Medi Platforms
Okay, let’s make it clear; social media platforms are not created equal, and their effect is not similar.
Be mindful of what social media app you use most. Then, you should take a break from it. For example, if you spend hours on Instagram, try stepping away from that app.
Create a reward system for each time you feel the urge to open social media and can resist making it fun.
Be Realistic in Your Approach to Taking Time Off
If there is one piece of advice to consider before taking time off, it will be realistic when thinking about disconnecting from social networks, especially if you already spend a lot of time on them.
Not everyone can keep themselves away from social media platforms for extended periods— like everything in life, although it’s essential to set boundaries.
But whether you choose to take little chunks of time off or go cold turkey, like one day a week or one week each month, you will likely see many benefits for your emotional and mental health.
Social media has endless benefits in how it helps businesses a lot. However, taking a social media break helps reduce anxiety and mental stress. Your mental health is much more important than just a few comments and likes on our posts.
Even if you’re super famous with a huge following base or if you are an influencer, it’s worth it.
Also, looking at others and comparing your life with what they have is a stressful experience. Stopping social media for a while will improve your peace of mind and health. Let’s try it; it might be a life-changing decision.