by Tess Cubitt

May 2019

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Time to take a break from your phone?

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Social Media has become more and more pervasive in our lives. We are

tweeting, scrolling and posting on instagram and facebook, checking the

news on various platforms, reading articles on reddit and live-streaming

videos for our followers. The reality is, social media isn’t going away any

time soon. So, it is best to set boundaries for yourself so you don’t get

lost in the online world and forget about the natural world around you. 

 

Taking a break from social media on a regular basis is a healthy ritual for

everyone to practice. I am not an avid poster on social media. I prefer to

spend my time on news platforms rather than post my personal activities.

If I do post, I typically limit my posting to the work-related. This means I do not feel the effects of social media as much as a number people I know. In the last fews years, it has been amazing to see the changes to daily life. Rarely do people sit down and read a magazine in a waiting room. They pull their phones out and mindlessly scroll. You can see the withdrawal from active consciousness. 

 

Anxiety

Social media platforms can promote a generally anxious state. 

  • Anxiety because you are not on social media and you have physiological and mental urges to be on a platform. 

  • Anxiety from reading other people’s posts and feeling a lack of self worth, negative comparisons, and FOMO (fear of missing out). 

  • It can be a way for you to not engage with reality or the people around you who might make you feel anxious. 

Taking a break from social media for a while can be a great way to reduce anxiety in your life. Have a phone-free day. I try to make Sunday’s my phone-free day. If you are feeling anxious whenever you open an app and start scrolling, this is an indicator it is time to take a break. Don't feel like you are missing out. Everyone is at a different stage of their life. Some people will be further along in their careers, or their family-life, or going on fabulous vacations. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. That is a dangerous game. 

 

Time management 

It is easy to get trapped in the social media bubble. Hours can somehow zoom by and I am still swiping and reading article after article. Sometimes I fell so low after reading about all the awful things going on in the world. Creating time-limits for yourself is not only a great way of practising discipline, it means you can step back into the real-life interactions. Go grab a coffee with a friend. Go for a run. 

 

Sleep

A lot of people look at their phones before bed. Studies have shown this significantly impacts your sleep.

  • It affects your circadian rhythm which in turn affects your metabolism, mood, appetite etc. The blue light confuses your brain and your body clock.  

  • On average it takes people 10 minutes longer to fall asleep if they are looking at their phones compared to reading a book. 

  • It impacts upon melatonin production which is key to a healthy brain. Even low levels of light around you while you sleep can affect melatonin production. 

  • It decreases your REM sleep cycle which is crucial for restoration of mind and body; our memories, creative and problem solving skills, and concentration. 

 

It is not only looking at your phone before bed. Notifications are 24/7. Phones buzz all night long. So put your phone is another room to charge and buy an alarm clock.

 

Take a break from social media and take care of your mind and your body. 

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