Why It’s Worth Considering Taking A Social Media Break

Why It’s Worth Considering Taking A Social Media Break

Social media has become ubiquitous. But it’s not always great for your mental health. Here we outline some reasons you might want to take a closer look at your use of social media.

Comparison is the thief of joy

Social media can be a helpful way to keep in touch with friends and family or connect with others around the world. However, it can also provide very one-directional communication. This means that you may not always get the full context or story behind what someone is sharing. It can also be hard to have a meaningful exchange with someone. There is value in the person-to-person exchanges we have when we meet face to face (and even over the phone) that is often lost on social media. This includes body language and tone of voice, amongst other things. Keep in mind that when you are interacting with people via social media, you may or may not be getting the whole picture, or you may not fully “hear” their meaning or implication.

Posts vs. Reality

It’s important to remember that everyone posts their highlights and successes, and rarely shares their struggles or mundane moments. If you approach social media with this in mind–the fact that you are comparing someone else’s highlight reel to your day-to-day reality, you may experience less negative emotion–depression, anxiety, or stress– as a result. The impression that everyone else is constantly on vacation or eating fancy dinners out is inaccurate. People are also doing laundry, paying bills, and taking their car to the repair shop. They just don’t post about it.

 

Relatedly, sometimes when we think that we are aware of what others are doing since we “can see what they post,” we are actually missing a lot and are unaware of their struggles. Given the stigma around mental health, many people prefer not to open up about what’s going on with them on social media. This is totally understandable and their prerogative, but it’s important to keep in mind that just because someone is posting cheerful or pleasant things online doesn’t mean they aren’t actually struggling. Take some time to reach out to people who are important to you if you want to really know how they’re doing.

Do it for the joy, not the ‘gram

Time spent on social media looking at what others are doing or saying means taking away time that can be spent DOING things yourself. You can use social media to get inspired, learn, share, and grow… as long you are still making time to LIVE. Time spent being mindfully present in the moment is the best way to generate feelings of joy. Whatever you are doing, do it fully. Worrying about the future or ruminating about the past can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression. Focusing your attention and energy on the task or activity at hand is a great way to let those worry thoughts float away. Attending to positive experiences and emotions and making those your priority, can go a long way towards mental wellness.

In summary, social media can be a great tool for connecting with those around you. But it rarely provides the whole picture of a person, and often the comparisons that it engenders can undermine your self-esteem. If you feel that social media is causing more harm than good, consider taking some time off.