Social Media Detox
3 Real-Life Ways Powering Down Your Social Media Intake Can Promote Emotional/Psychological Health
By: Angela Martindale
Scouring my social media feed at the airport in between business meetings one day, I had a flashback to the days where grandpas sat restfully on their porches in the evenings with a glass of sweet tea, to read the newspaper and catch up on the day’s happenings, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to RELAX while catching up on the day?”
In our millennial world, not only can we read the news at any time day or night, but we can be part of the stories by adding a comment, sharing a post, or even being a contributor of the social dialogue through guest submissions. We silver-spoon feed each other an all-we-can-intake buffet of minute-by- minute snippets of celebrity gossip; fashion ins and outs; exercise do’s and don’ts; the latest marketing trends for your business; the latest advice from experts in your field; the latest breakthrough scientific discoveries; the most recent (literally up-to-the-second) world news; most recent political events; the latest brand announcements – and of course, podcasts galore.
So not only are we digesting information every time we look at Snapchat, Instagram, FB, Twitter, Periscope, and Pinterest (to name a few), but our brains are being stuffed so full of content that sometimes, we have to put on the elastic-waist pants (mentally and metaphorically speaking) just to accommodate the enormous amount of images, stories, advice and videos we see in fifteen short minutes of social media scan time.
We are ready to connect at the touch of an emoji, but our brains are on overload: more often than not, an hour past our intended “quick check-in” goes by, and we’ve been distracted by twenty posts that all seemed imperative for us to know about right then! I like to call this “Goldfish Syndrome” — when we feel like a goldfish hurriedly swimming circles around a bowl with short-term memory (think Dory in Finding Nemo, hyped up on caffeine), before crashing into an object that knocks us down and forces us into thinking, just maybe, about a social media detox. And truth be told, there is something to be said about the relaxing, methodical routine of the print-reading days of yore that may promote health and wellness.
So, how do we find a healthy social media/life balance in our “need it now”-induced environment?
Power down and re-energize yourself, with deep physical and mental wellness benefits:
1. Turn Off Social Media, and Turn On Your Own Private Voice
We are used to interjecting our personal thoughts, opinions and feelings into as many comment boxes, RT’s and Reply streams as we can, that sometimes we feel like an open book for the entire world to read. As great as it is for us to connect and voice our opinions, some thoughts belong only to us, and those special people with whom we have shared personal experiences.
Solution: Giving yourself some designated time each week to journal, with actual pencil and paper, will offer you a private place to reflect on your feelings and insights about how society and daily activities impact your personal growth. This very much differs from your exterior social media voice that is public, and it is therefore a healthy exercise in building and maintaining a truly personalized relationship with yourself and those in your inner circle.
2. Manage the Voices In Your Head
Stepping away from the feeding frenzy of social media for a physical activity can help both your body and brain stay healthy by allowing your mind adequate time to catalogue the information you intake on social media throughout the day. Social media management is a full-time job for your brain, requiring real energy to manage the different voices, threads and subjects to which it is required to give attention on a daily basis.
Solution: Removing yourself from your laptop, or turning off your phone at certain times during the day for your “me” time to walk around your office or even the block, work out at the office gym, and/or do yoga and breathing exercises will help distract your conscious thoughts and reset your focus. Not only will this exercise help refresh your mind, it will also alleviate stress built up in your physical body throughout the work day. End result: a healthy response to tension.
3. Prevent the Blue Light Blues
Studies have shown that the blue light emitted by tech objects is especially good at preventing our pineal gland from releasing natural melatonin, which helps induce sleep. When our natural circadian rhythms are disturbed by this specific brain stimulation, our body thinks sleep can be put off longer. Add social media stimulation to the blue light overload at bedtime, and you’ve got a recipe for ensuring brain chaos, right before your body is ready for some peace and quiet.
Solution: Powering down thirty minutes before bed helps your brain signal your body that it’s time to relax so that you can rest for mind and body repair. Also, try getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night to maximize your brain/body health.
Following these tips for balancing your social media streams will help keep you alert, healthy and grounded in reality, while still being a part of the fast-paced “world conversation.” Managing your online time will increase your wellness in your offline time, and may even leave you time to sit on the porch and enjoy some sweet tea!