The benefits of a social media detox, whether deleting an app or opting to go for a walk instead of Facebook scroll, will go further than you think.

By. Holly Chavez

Social media user numbers continue to grow. In fact, the average person spends at least 1 hour and 40 minutes per day looking at their favorite social media sites and apps.

This is an astounding amount of time that could be spent in other ways, but it’s also indicative of the current social and business culture, as your work may require you to remain social online during business hours.

This is why it can be very helpful to detox over the weekend or during a vacation.

Here’s a breakdown of why we need social media detoxes…

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  1. Breaks the Social Comparison Cycle

Scientists have discovered that most people who use social media end up comparing themselves to the lives of everyone they know. The problem with this is that it can have a serious impact on your self-esteem.

For example, if everyone you know is getting married and having babies but you’re still single, you may end up feeling isolated and lonely. This can even lead to serious depression for some people. Break away from this unhealthy cycle by taking a break from social media so you can reconnect with all of the awesome things in your life.

  1. Protects Your Privacy

Social media is a convenient way to keep in touch and share photos, but it also requires you to give up a lot of your privacy. For example, ReputationDefender recently reported that the latest privacy policy update for WhatsApp allows the messaging app to share data with Facebook.

Therefore, if you don’t want Facebook to have access to your telephone number, make sure you don’t have both apps installed on your phone. Even better, you can take a social media detox that includes deleting your apps and accounts to provide yourself with the best possible privacy protection.

  1. Stops Competitive Feelings

Even if you aren’t aware of it, social media brings out your competitive side. This is because the main basis of social media networks such as Facebook is to attract attention to your posts. Each reaction and comment is a measure of how popular a particular post is, which can make you strive to outdo others and even yourself.

This type of competitiveness is not healthy, and it can cause anxiety and depression. Take a mental health break by stepping away from social media for a while!

  1. Improves Overall Mood

Studies have discovered the more time you spend on a social media site, the more likely you are to develop depression. Additionally, the amount of time you spend on these sites is directly related to whether or not you feel stressed out or happy.

In other words, if you’ve been feeling highly anxious, stressed out, or depressed, this is a good time to take a social media detox. It may feel weird at first, but your overall mood should begin to improve as you stay away from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

  1. Conquers FOMO

Aka, fear of missing out. Computer World has pointed out that social media is engineered to be as addictive as crack cocaine. This isn’t just hyperbole; when you first stop using social media, you can expect to feel withdrawal symptoms. Scientists say this is due to the naturally ingrained fear of missing out. After all, you could miss something entertaining or important if you step away from your laptop or smartphone.

The notification number makes it even harder to stay away. But those who become addicted to social media can end up destroying their personal and professional relationships. You can minimize this effect after your detox by scheduling a once a day visit to your favorite social media sites. After that visit is over, do not look at social media for the rest of the day.

  1. Reconnects You with the Real World

Do you connect well with others online but find you never connect in person? This can be ideal for introverts, but we all still have the need for some in-person human contact. Sadly, people who spend a lot of time on social media sites report feeling lonely and isolated in real life. They are also more likely to suffer from a weakened immune system.

The good news is that even if you’re an introvert and uncomfortable with a lot of in-person interaction, you can boost your mood by simply going out in public. Take yourself to your favorite park or restaurant if you prefer to be alone. You could even go to a movie or concert. If you want to make new friends, consider using a service such as MeetUp to find like-minded individuals.

  1. Begins Living in the Moment

Do you post everything you do to Facebook while each activity or life event is actually happening? There have even been instances of people updating their Facebook and Twitter accounts from the altar immediately after getting married.

This is a viable way to document your life, but it can also become a burden that takes you out of the moment. If you’re living everything through the lens of social media instead of directly interacting with it, your experiences are going to be of a lower quality and become less memorable.

  1. Eliminates Obsessing Over the Past

Do you spend a lot of time looking at old tweets or Facebook stalking your ex? This can keep you stuck in a negative headspace, and it makes it much more difficult to recover from a breakup.

Leaving social media behind for a while can give you the space you need to stop obsessing and actually move on with your life. Make sure that when you do return to social media that you take the extra step of blocking exes or anyone else whom it pains you to see online. You can also tweak your Facebook memories to remove certain items so you’re not reminded of them.

  1. Opens a Lot of Free Time

Do you feel like you never have enough time to exercise, read, or clean your house? Putting social media on pause will help you regain almost 2 hours daily, during which you can devote your energy to improving your life. Walking for 30 minutes per day offers huge physical and mental health benefits, which makes it a much better usage of your time than scrolling through your Facebook news feed. You will also feel less stressed if you take time to get your house in order.

If you have a difficult time unplugging completely, consider visiting one of the many websites that offer educational benefits instead. Take a free course on a topic of interest is definitely a better way to spend your time, and it can enrich your personal and professional lives.

Originally published on Lifehacks on February 14, 2017

About the Author: Holly Chavez is an entrepreneur, engineer, and artist who writes regularly for Examiner.com, Lifehack.org, and Tech.co.

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