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How does quitting social media actually help your mental health?

It’s common knowledge that too much time on social media isn’t great for our brains.

Social media can also be a fantastic tool for keeping people connected, learning new things and creating spaces for creativity and free expression – but it also has a dark side.

Plenty of research shows that it can have a detrimental impact on your self-esteem and confidence, it can also make negative news events feel unavoidable, and perpetuate a pretty toxic picture of humanity – with trolling, online arguments and abuse rife across all platforms.

No doubt you will have seen plenty of people proclaiming that they are taking a break from social media, deleting their accounts, or going on a ‘digital detox’. Taking time away from social media and disconnecting from our devices can feel like a breath of fresh air – but is completely stepping away from social media the only solution?

Shareen Kullar, founder of self-care box Blissbox, says that when social media starts to consume hours of our time and energy, stepping away could be incredibly beneficial for our mental health.

Social media is a hotbed for negativity

‘By constantly showing you negative news, posts and imagery, this kind of negativity increases your anxiety, creates unnecessary worry and brings down your mood,’ says Shareen.

‘When we expose our brains to these negative posts for long periods of time, our brains are unable to determine what is real and what isn’t. It will think that we are actually in these situations and will immediately go into defence/survival mode.’

She adds that when we are in a perpetual state of survival, high levels of cortisol will be produced which can cause damage both mentally and physically.

‘With most of us currently living stressful and busy daily lives which results in a lot of us having high levels of cortisol produced within our bodies already, scrolling through social media can significantly add to the stress we put our minds through every day.’

Shareen argues that quitting social media allows you to lower your stress levels by exposing yourself to less negativity, meaning your mood will lift as a result.

‘Reducing social media in the mornings and evenings will allow you to begin and end your day right,’ she says.

‘When we begin the day by scrolling through social media, not only does this expose you to artificial light which will disturb your body’s internal clock but it will also decrease the time you have to get up in the morning, beginning your day in a rush and will expose you to negativity which will set your mood for the day.’

She adds that this is also important when winding down before bed.

‘Allowing your body and mind to naturally relax, clear and rest after your day will help you to get a well-rested sleep,’ she says. ‘When we use this crucial time to scroll through social media, the artificial lighting will affect our body’s timing for sleep.’ 

Shareen recommends staying off social media for the first hour of the morning, and at least two hours before you go to bed. She says this will allow you to begin your day and to wind down your day naturally, calmly and peacefully.

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