Why you should be enjoying a social media detox this summer
We can all admit to times where we have caught ourselves scrolling through Tiktok, Instagram or Facebook, spending hour after hour endlessly engaging in social media content without realising how long we have been online
The past year has redefined the meaning of being busy doing nothing, and between lockdowns, cancelled holidays and exercise limitations, many of us have turned to social media to divert our attention away from the adversity that the last year has brought. However, we are (hopefully) now on the way out of the pandemic and heading for better times – it’s therefore the time to take the opportunity to reinvigorate our lives and this all starts with putting down our mobile phones and seeing the benefits roll in.
The damage of social media
Over the past few years we have come to learn the many damaging effects social media can have on our mental health. Our favourite apps have been linked to fuelling feelings of anxiety, depression and increased isolation. Research has shown that a release of dopamine to the brain occurs when we receive a notification or like. This chemical creates a happy feeling – the same as we get when we eat food, and in the short term, this feeling can be perceived as a positive impact. However, in reality, we become attached to this artificial happiness and begin to crave a dopamine fix. Overtime we start to find little satisfaction with other activities that would normally give us this same feeling, and instead rely on our phones for that dose of happiness.
Using our time better
Studies have shown that on average Brits spend around 110 minutes every day on social media, meaning that over the course of a year we are nearly hitting a month’s worth of time scrolling online. When put this way, we can all agree our time is far better spent elsewhere.
Although it is still not looking hopeful for holiday trips abroad, we can still utilise this time to plan some real adrenaline-fuelling adventures. Education, exercise and adventure are some activities that recreate the dopamine feeling social media delivers. With far more activities and adventures on offer now that restrictions have lifted, there are plenty of alternatives to sitting on our phones.
Exercise particularly is an excellent way to release endorphins, which are chemicals that relieve pain and anxiety. Instead of gluing our eyes to the latest meme, try taking up a new sport or hit the gym to reap the long lasting benefits of exercise, rather than long term negatives of social media. Just getting outside and walking will help too.
Stay in touch
Social media interactions are not the same as ones in real life. We cannot replace tangible communication, and now that most restrictions in the UK have been lifted it is even easier to meet up with our friends and family. If you’re still not ready to enter the real world again, try video calls or virtual meet-ups with friends. Although not actually face-to-face, the benefits of video calling include verbal communication practice, meaning a more natural approach to conversation such as facial expressions and gestures, rather than using emojis and memes.
While 2021 hasn’t been anywhere near normal so far, we can still plan a productive summer by getting our minds ready to renter the real world, or rather the new normal. Ditching social media, or at least cutting back on our time spent on apps will not only benefit our mental health, but also our social interactions so dedicate this summer to yourself and your mental well-being.