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Should I try social (media) distancing?

Our fight against Covid-19 or coronavirus may not be over, but with lockdown measures easing and a new, socially distanced normal becoming apparent, there seems to finally be a light at the end of the tunnel…

Over the course of the last few months, as a nation and as individuals we’ve encountered challenges we never would have imagined. As well as trying to maintain our health and happiness in the most unusual circumstances, we’ve had to deal with being apart from our nearest and dearest for a long time. The way we communicate has changed as a result, with people of all ages coming together digitally rather than face-to-face.

Social media has no doubt provided a lifeline for many people during lockdown. Individuals have easily been able to log on and keep in touch with loved ones from outside their households. But with the huge volume of social media communications to contend with – Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, the list goes on… – can too much social media become, well, too much?

According to a recent study, the average person spends almost two hours on social media every day. This figure may pale in comparison to teens – they spend a staggering nine hours a day social networking – but it still equates to 5 years and 4 months over a lifetime.

Here we take a closer look at an entirely different type of cleanse and detox, so should you try social media distancing?

The problem with social media overuse

Since the Covid-19 lockdown was announced the only way most people have been able to get the information they need about the pandemic and our progress as a nation has been through the media. As a result, we’ve been consuming more media than ever. In fact, absorbing and managing the endless flow of news, social media and often questionable facts has become something of a full time job!

The use of social media in particular has exploded as we look to keep in touch with society and stay connected with family, friends, work colleagues and acquaintances. Whilst social networks are no doubt a useful tool for connecting, communicating and getting the latest, they have become a source of disinformation particularly about the pandemic.

Social media and your mental health

Overuse of social networks and other online resources of information can all too easily become an obsession. It’s even been proven to negatively affect mental health, with self-esteem, memory, sleep quality and quantity, and concentration all damaged by spending too much time on social media. 

According to the Independent, using social media can have a more negative impact on the human connection than most think. We’ll let them explain more:

“As human beings, it’s so important for us to be able to communicate and forge personal connections with one another. However, it can be hard to do so when we’re glued to rectangular screens, becoming more acquainted with our friends’ digital facades than their real-life personas… A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that assessed 5,208 subjects found that overall, regular use of Facebook had a negative impact on an individual’s wellbeing.”

The time spent on social media can also negatively affect family life. After all the more time you spend on social networks, the less time you have to spend with those within your household and yourself.

Why take a break from social networking

Taking a break from social media or even dedicating some of the time you’d spend scanning your Facebook or Instagram feeds on another task can unlock several positive benefits.

With a social media detox, you’ll be able to break the ‘social comparison cycle’ to heighten your self-esteem and appreciate your own lifestyle a little bit more. You may find that feelings of competitiveness subside to an acceptable level and that fear of missing out will be overcome. You’ll start living in the moment more and stop obsessing about the past (looking back at old tweets and statuses has that effect) as a result.

By saying no to social media, you’ll be protecting your privacy to keep your private life private, instead of in the public domain for all to see. You’ll also gain a lot of free time, which could be spent doing the things you really love or discovering a talent you never knew you had. Your overall mood should improve too, with feelings of stress, anxiety and unhappiness quashed once you’ve broken the habit.

As lockdown measures continue to ease, there’s no better time to reconnect with the real world. So, why not start your reintroduction to society off with a bang by throwing yourself into a social media detox?