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How taking a social media detox has helped me

Tips & tricks by Sukhpreet Chana

Social media detoxes are becoming more common, with many citing mental health as their main reason for believing in them. After taking a detox of her own, Sukhpreet Chana highlights three of the biggest positives she experienced.

Social media is ingrained in everyday life, whether for professional, social, or other purposes. And with it comes many advantages, from seeking out the latest trend to challenging stigmas and creating new norms for people worldwide.

But there are downsides to social media too. Using platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter too much can negatively affect mental health, leading to unhappiness, isolation, and – despite their ability to connect us with more people than ever before – loneliness.

This isn't new information though. We've known for some time that social media can have detrimental effects on our health and well-being, and this doesn't stop us from using them. I for one am someone who uses social media frequently for checking out what's going on in the world, and my version of it. And for a while now, I've become increasingly aware of some of the negative effects it can have on me.

Having read about the benefits a social media 'detox' can have on mental health, I decided to give it a go. And here's what I learned!

Benefit #1: Removing the burden of constant social media use

Research has shown that the average Brit looks at their phone 28 times a day, which racks up to over 10,000 times a year. That's a pretty astounding number (although perhaps not as hard-hitting as first thought if you ever look at the people around you when on public transport). Based on my own experience, I think it's reasonable to suggest that many of those times we check our phones to check social media.

So why exactly do we check in so frequently with social media? Personally, I feel I need to make sure I'm not missing something, or I need a quick endorphin hit to keep me going. But the trouble with my approach is that it was becoming a burden like I had to engage in social media to remain in control of my life.

Taking a social media detox helped me realise that there was more to life than social media. After a few days, that feeling of going on it every day to keep up-to-date melted away, and I instead engaged with it as and when needed (some days went by with me not going on it at all).

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Benefit #2: Kickstarting my interest in other hobbies and interests

This benefit's a bit less clear-cut because social media has been, and continues to be, a very inspirational place for me to find new interests. But during my time away from it, I found that I could dedicate time to other hobbies that otherwise would have been spent trawling through social media trying to find one. For me, dropping social media meant I finally had the time to read those books that have been on my shelf for far too long, as well as dedicate more time to writing.

Benefit #3: Providing a sense of clarity of what truly matters

Perhaps the biggest benefit I found from cutting out social media was that it made me realise what matters to me.

Part of that was removing the comparative aspect of social media. With so many accounts focusing on celebrities, people and their lifestyles, it can be difficult not to start reflecting on your life and trying to identify what is 'missing'. Removing this relentless source of comparison meant that the mental exhaustion of constantly being on the lookout for what could make my life better wasn't there. Instead, I could direct my mental energy to focus on self-care, authenticity, and the people in my life that matter the most.

Give a social media detox a go – you might be pleasantly surprised!

Discarding social media was a real eye-opener for me. It gave me such a powerful sense of peace and tranquillity that I have eliminated social media from my life (except for a couple of instant messaging apps).

I know though that not everyone reading this will feel like a detox is necessary. And if you feel that social media doesn't harm your mental health then why should you have a detox?

But even if this sounds like you, I would still recommend cutting back on social media a little bit because the effects can be quite remarkable, even if it's just for a small amount of time.

If you are thinking about doing a detox, smartphones are clever enough to provide a helpful solution. Most smartphones can detect our screen usage and how long we spend on different apps. By setting time limits to how long we spend in each one, we can take control of our social media behaviours and reduce any potential mental health impact social media can have.


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