Over the last fifteen or so years, social media has become a major part of our lives. On social media, we can get our news, connect with family in Africa, slide into a potential bae’s DMs, find our friends, and order a wig, by the gentle swipe of our fingers.
While social media has its pros, it also has its cons. More and more research is showing that social media usage can lead to comparison, cyberbullying, and negative mood, termed “Facebook Depression.” Taking a social media break is a practice that can have positive impacts on your mental health. Below are some signs that it may be time for a social media break.
You feel sad, down, annoyed, and/or anxious while using or when you get off. Social media can absolutely change your mood. Social media provides a platform for people to speak their minds and we don’t always agree with people on our timeline. Or maybe you’re tired of seeing that one Auntie sharing outdated/misinformed videos. Or maybe you’re in your feelings because you’re not getting the amounts of likes or retweets you would like. If you’re finding that more often than not, your mood is changing after being on social media, it may be time to take a social media break.
You find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others. It’s easy to think that other people’s lives are better than our own based on their social media posts.You may have heard the quote, “Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reels.” Just as you probably won’t post a pic of the day you were feeling sick and not looking your best, most people won’t either. Comparison is truly the thief of joy. If you find that you’re constantly comparing your actual life to the social media life of others, how they dress, how they look, their career/educational advancements, or their relationships, it may be time to take a social media break to return your focus on being the best YOU.
You find yourself constantly judging others. Maybe you’re not comparing yourself to others and finding how you don’t measure up… Maybe you’re comparing yourself and finding that OTHERS don’t measure up. Maybe you find yourself criticizing each and every post. Constant criticism of the lives of others does not produce joy and fulfillment in our own. It may be time to take to reflect on the root of this judgment of others.
You’re constantly overwhelmed because of your notifications or the lack thereof. It can be overwhelming and time consuming to try to reply to every single notification on every single social media platform. It can also be overwhelming to have no notifications, especially if having those likes and comments on your pictures is important to you. Taking a break won’t take away or add to the notifications, but it may eliminate the overwhelming response felt when opening the social media apps.
Your productivity has decreased OR You use it to avoid significant tasks OR You’re not focusing on your life goals. It’s wild to consider how deep a couple of swipes on social media can get you. Social media can serve as a time filler or time waster. Are you avoiding homework or laundry by using social media? I tend to default to scrolling through social media when feeling physically and mentally exhausted instead of trying to cross of the little things on my to-do list. If you’re finding that you’re not being productive in different areas of your life, it may be beneficial to take time to re-align yourself with your goals and stop procrastinating on that laundry.
You’re living your life behind the lens of snapchat/IG. Sometimes, we begin to live our lives for social media and don’t fully enjoy the moment in front of us. How many major events in our lives have passed us by because we decided to stop and tweet/post about it? It has become normal for us to Instagram/Snap our food instead of praying over it and enjoying the company of those around us. Some people have thousands of friends on Facebook and still feel lonely. Because the current culture is so attached to living our lives on social media, it makes sense that we want to post everything going on. However, life is short and fleeting. If you find that you’re not actually enjoying the important moments of your life because you’re spending too much time staging it for the ‘gram, it may be time to take a break.
You’re stalking someone you USED to have history with. This can be an ex-lover/friend/associate…. Social media can be a great way to check up on that person without swallowing your pride to send a text. You can check their tweets to see if they’ll say anything vaguely about you, watch their snaps to see what they’re doing, etc., most times without their knowledge. You’re not alone, I’ve been there too! But is it healthy? Are you living in the past? Are you criticizing the life that person is living without you? Do apologies need to take place? Did y’all part ways because of a misunderstanding? Was the situation toxic? Can you still have a healthy relationship with this person? It may be time to take a social media break to self-reflect and decide what moving forward will look like for you.
You’re more invested in the lives or ‘stories’ of people you don’t know than family or friends. Pretty self-explanatory. Social media is so good at bringing people from all over together. Exhibit A: Black Twitter. However, we can get so caught up that we begin to interact more with social media than the people who are physically present in our lives. If you know more about Kim K than you know about your siblings, it may be time to take a social media break.
My mom always says, “Too much of anything good is a bad thing.” I think this very much applies to social media. It has its benefits, yet it can also take up so much of our time and energy if we let it. I started using the Screen Time feature on the iPhone, and whew, chile, those numbers! However, it was so good to see so that now I can be mindful of how much time I spend on social media. I have found it helpful to limit the amount of time I spend on social media daily. Taking a social media break is an act of self-care and can be a great way to clear the air so that you can focus on what’s important to you. Take care of yourself, sis! Take that social media break.
by Stephanie Okpara