Social Media: When to Step Away from Screens (Blog)

Since its creation, social media has become increasingly common to use in our daily lives. With its numerous benefits, such as making it easy to stay in contact with friends and keep up with current events, it’s easy to see why. However, social media can also be addictive if not used carefully. 

This has a lot to do with the chemicals in your brain, particularly one called Dopamine. This chemical causes you to seek out pleasure, which you find on social media in the form of likes, comments, and other interactions. As a result, Dopamine can create an addiction to social media as you start craving these interactions. Whilst this may seem harmless, it can have strong impacts on your mental health. This is due to another chemical, Serotonin, which controls your happiness. Spending too much time online can impact your self-worth, causing your Serotonin levels to fall, which causes feelings of anxiety and tiredness. 

Studies suggest that these effects are most apparent in people who spend over 3 hours a day on social media. If you feel you’re usually reaching this number, it might be worth considering if you need to be more mindful of your usage.

Signs of Addiction:

It can be difficult to recognise you’ve developed an unhealthy dependence on social media or be able to admit it to yourself. However, there are indicators that this may be the case:

  • You feel uncomfortable or anxious when your phone or other devices aren’t nearby.
  • You constantly check social media, even at moments where you shouldn’t. This includes waking up randomly in the night to check it.
  • You frequently stay up very late scrolling through social media (this is known as Doom Scrolling). Or you wake up early to use it sooner.
  • You believe you don’t have time for other activities as you are spending that time on your phone. This has a strong impact on your work-life balance.
  • You no longer find social media fun, but still find yourself scrolling through it.

If you find yourself doing some of these, it’s possible you’ve developed an addiction to social media, and it might be a good idea to start stepping away for a while. This can be challenging but there are many simple methods you can try to start reducing your screen time.

Tips for stepping away:

Of course, you could always go ‘cold turkey’ and quit social media entirely, but this can be difficult to do and may not be necessary depending on how addicted you are. Instead, we recommend setting small self-restrictions or time limits to your usage that you increase over time. Here are some simple solutions to help you reduce your screen time:

  • Set timers for apps: Smart phones often have a function that lets you set timers for apps which track your daily usage. These can give you alerts when you’re reaching your time limit, or even time out the app. You could then set an appropriate time limit for each social media app so that you don’t exceed a healthy limit.
  • Place barriers between you and your phone: During work or other activities it may be a good idea to separate yourself from your phone. This could be by physically putting your phone in another room or other barriers, like putting an elastic band around your phone or a note to remind you to be mindful.
  • Reduce the number of apps you use: If you find yourself spending all your time going between different social media platforms, you could try reducing your time by deciding which apps are most useful to you and deleting any others.
  • Find new hobbies: By finding new activities, you’ll not only find yourself spending less time on your phone, but you’ll also improve your work-life balance. This could even be something as simple as taking a long daily walk.
  • Unfollow Content that upsets you: A simple way to make your online experience better is to remove or mute content in your feed that’s making you sad. This should reduce the impact on your self-worth and help your mental wellbeing.

Overall, stepping away from social media truly depends on you. Whilst you can search for solutions, the only thing that can make them work is you understanding what would be an appropriate limit for yourself and your ability to stick to these limits. But if you’re able to stay resilient and focused on breaking the addiction you could find yourself with a happier, more balanced lifestyle.

Written by Joseph Perks

For Lyfeproof UK