I'm just hopping back on social after taking a month off. Ahhhh. It was so refreshing to take a break.
Though I value how being active on social media can help us stay connected, grow our businesses, and sell our products, I think we can all benefit from taking regular social media breaks.
Here are five signs you need a social media break:
1. You're not following through on a dream
Do you have a creative aspiration you want to pursue, but you keep pushing it aside? Or have you failed to take action? Perhaps it's a book you want to write, a photo album you'd like to make for your family, or even starting an online course or business. If this is you, I highly recommend stepping away from social media until you get some momentum.
Julia Cameron, author of one of my favorite books, The Artist's Way, suggests that while in the process of creation (or when trying to get out of a creative rut ), you should avoid consumption of ALL media. This includes books, television, news, and of course, social media. She suggests that when we're constantly consuming the ideas of others, we cannot hear our own ideas with clarity.
If you cut off reading, scrolling, and listening for an allotted time, your own ideas will flush in to fill the void. If you have a dream, big or small, and you're not taking action on it, chances are social media is not helping you.
2. You regularly feel/say "I don't have enough time."
If you're like most people, you're juggling a lot. These days, even when we retire, we still fill our calendars without much effort. If this resonates and you regularly say or feel "I just don't have enough time to X," then it's time to take a social media break.
The truth is, many of us don't realize how much time we actually spend scanning through our feeds. Statista reports that the average person spends 145 minutes PER DAY on social media. That's over 2 HOURS a day.
If you feel yourself crunched for time and not doing the things that you say are more important to you, it's time to step away.
3. You have children at home
If you have children or grandchildren who spend time with you, it's critical that you take regular breaks from social media.
Our kids and grandkids are growing up in an era where social media is their birthright. It's nearly unavoidable for all kids these days. This isn't a bad thing. But if you, as an adult in their lives, are constantly checking your social media feed, imagine what this models for them about how important it is?
Further, regular social media usage perpetuates short attention span, and releases dopamine in the brain each time we use it. Because of this, it's wildly addictive, even for adults. And we DO have fully developed prefrontal cortexes (that monitor attention, impulse and more), unlike our young children.
I love when my kids spend time with my parents because neither of my parents "do" social media. The kind of undivided and single-focused attention my kids get from my parents is something I aspire to give them.
Taking a break from social shows the important youngans in our lives that social media can be a fun side addition to life. Not the meaning of it.
4. You check it within the first 30 minutes of waking or the last 30 minutes before bed
One of my favorite rituals I learned while in India is holding the mornings as sacred and devotional. It is a time to set the tone for your day. When we roll out of bed to check how many likes our picture got from yesterday, we've already lost control of our tone.
What's more, it is said that what you see/read/think in the final moments before falling asleep stays with you for FOUR hours in your dream state. 4 hours. I donno about you, but I'd rather that not be some inane crap I saw on Facebook.
5. You regularly feel anxious, depressed or unsatisfied
Having been off social for a while, my emotional responses were some of the first things I noticed when getting back on. Because it had been a while, I could clearly feel my reactions to what I saw as I scrolled through. And let me tell you, they were mad neurotic.
"Oh gosh, I wonder why she hasn't called me in a while?"
"Shoot, these reels are way better than the ones I post. I better get on top of it."
"I should buy that swimming suit. But dang, I don't have the body for it."
"I wish we were traveling like that family."
Literally. It was crazy. And it happened instantaneously.
What we know about social media is that people post the best versions of themselves and what they're doing. It isn't the complete and real portrait of a life or a product. Only the pretty parts.
When we passively consume social media, we open ourselves up to unnecessary comparison and other disempowering emotions. This only disperses our energy. Not to mention the social media algorithm promotes political and social division based on what we view.
Again, social media can be a wonderful tool, so long as we have personal parameters. If you feel yourself identifying with any of the above reasons, consider taking AT LEAST a one-week break soon and regularly. I am absolutely positive it will serve your mental health, creative potential, and sense of peace.
To your wellness,