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Hilal Her

Mental Detox – A Break from Social Media

February 2024

In our interconnected world, the allure of social media is undeniable. But we continue hearing about taking a break from social media. Why should one take a break from social media? Is it really that important? The answer is that with the constant stimulus and information influx/overload of using social media, a lot can mess with your brain. Constant (and mindless) scrolling through social media dulls the pleasure part, so you crave more and more. It also changes the areas that govern self-control and decision making in your brain. While the perpetual information feed has its own perks, the consequence of this information overload is causing instability of mental peace and physical health in many individuals. Plus, staring at screens too much wrecks your sleep pattern and affects your mental wellbeing. In order to cancel out such effects and maintain a healthy mind-body equilibrium, it is vital to disconnect from social media every now and then. A social media detox can help us refresh and reset, and renew our energy levels significantly. There is a growing awareness of the positive impact that taking a break from these platforms can have on our mental and emotional wellbeing. 



Productivity
A break from social media reclaims for you the time to channelize your hours constructively. It allows us to experience mental and physical stimulation as well as free up the time to reconnect with our surroundings with a fresh and renewed perspective. It helps us to do our tasks efficiently and timely, and disciplines our time management. This time-out allows us to polish and refine our weak areas in addition to time for acquisition of new skills. A detox helps in refining our personality development. It is said that boredom always precedes a period of creativity. The free and relaxed mind fetches new ideas and has an improved approach towards life. This type of break also provides an opportunity to channel our energy towards meaningful offline activities.
Mindfulness
Social media can be a time-consuming vortex. Excess exposure to social media saturates the mind, leading to information overload and cognitive fatigue. While disconnecting from social media can be challenging, it certainly is worth it. A timeout allows mental decluttering, fostering clarity as well as improved circulation. It induces tranquility in mind and a steady and stable approach to dealing with daily activities. It helps by minimizing comparisons and allows us to appreciate and derive genuine pleasure out of the things around us. A free wandering mind makes us stay and live in the moment and enjoy it to the fullest. It induces thought process and allows us to appreciate the realness and raw beauty of our surroundings. Minimal distractions fetch us fulfilling experiences; hence, we can enjoy quality of life. In addition, taking a break from social media will give you more free time to do the things you love, spend time with the people that you care about and simply relax.
Improved Sleep Quality
A study found that a fear of missing out (FOMO) drives night time use of social media, causing sleep disturbances and sleep difficulties. A study on people who discontinued using social media before bedtime showed a significant improvement in their sleep patterns. Curbing or limiting blue light emitted by screens at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime can regulate sleep patterns and release Melatonin (in response to darkness) and helps with the timing of circadian rhythm and sleep. Not only do you wake up with a fresh mind but also fresh eyes.
Better Relationships
No doubt social media is an effective tool to stay connected with your social circle, but authentic connections can be overshadowed by online interactions. Many a times you end up relying on social media as an easy alternate to giving undivided attention to your family members, which takes away the essence of family connections. Profound communication and connections are fostered when there is no distraction of social gadgets. This time out allows us to engage in healthy and recreational activities with parents, spouses, children and friends, which encourages feelings of comfort, healthy self-esteem, mental harmony and improves one’s emotional quotient.
Reduced Stress Levels
With a variety of trends raging on social media, one cannot help but feel an innate pressure to catch up. This never-ending loop of desires and actions eventually precipitates to low self-esteem, comparison, inferiority complex and stress in some viewers. A time out from social media can help focus on ourselves with a realistic and virtual perspective. It helps overshadow the facade of perfection and can help one strive for better, affordable and attainable goals. A time-out offers a respite in the form of inner peace and contentment from digital stress and can help in returning to routine with a resilient mindset that is not easily swayed. 
Hobbies and Personal Growth
Time reclaimed from social media can effectively be channeled to hobbies, new skills acquisition or pursual of personal interests. Replacing social media with hobbies provides us with better physical and mental health. Activities like book reading, learning a new language, gardening, adopting a pet, travelling, sports, etc., are all excellent and rewarding alternatives to social media. A sense of personal wellbeing eventuates feelings of productivity and usefulness. Unlike mindless media scrolling, physical activities as hobbies help improve focus and concentration that rekindle and rejuvenate a stable self-esteem, eventuating into better work performance. The hiatus becomes a catalyst for self-discovery and personal development.
Tips for Social Media Detox
Despite these amazing benefits, it can still be daunting to disengage from social media that has now become a ritual for many. However, here are some tips to jumpstart your social media detox in an effective manner.
•    All new devices have features to set individual timers for apps. Set the timers and resist the urge to use.
•    Consciously avoid using apps that unnecessarily take up your time and try uninstalling apps or deactivate your accounts temporarily.
•    Stick to desktop version so you don’t scroll on the phone. This implies that you can still get the benefits of social media when working, without it taking up hours of your life.
•    Pre-plan activities that you require to replace with media scrolling.
•    Leave your phone out of the bedroom at bedtime and inform your friends and family about your timeout so they don’t worry about your absence.
•    Set small benchmarks for yourself like spending ten minutes less on social media than the day before.
•    The next time you are at a gathering of family or friends and you see yourself scrolling through social media instead of engaging with others, take a minute to physically remove yourself and isolate in another room. Listen and feel how much you may be missing out on.
Alternate Activities
•    Once you have made up your mind to enjoy a social media detox, you can redirect yourself to activities that can be alternates to the social media.
•    Start by making a to do list of tasks that require your attention in the short or longer term. Call on family and friends. Visit them or plan an outing with them.
•    Try that long pending skincare regime and homemade remedies for your skin.
•    Finish that pile of laundry!
•    Cook! Serve yourself some home cooked food.    
•    One can also visit neighbors and have a friendly chat with them.
•    Adopt a pet. It can be a perpetual activity that will help keep your mind off social media.
•    Declutter, organize and deep clean your space. Tidy up your bedroom bit by bit, one section at a time. Try organizing your closet.
•    Catch up on your beauty sleep.
•    Hit the park and make it a routine of going for a walk every day.

Social media has become an integral aspect of our lives encompassing both positive and negative implications. Simultaneously, we have the capacity to employ it in a manner that accentuates favorable aspects rather than the unfavorable ones. With a little conscious use, occasional breaks, and balance with other activities, social media can be a healthy tool for self-expression and connection. While social media keeps us connected with the rest of the world, a social media detox allows us to connect with ourselves. Such breaks at intervals can help us keep a sound and steady mind alongwith better physical health. From improved mental health to strengthened personal connections, a hiatus can pave the way for a more balanced and fulfilling life.
 

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