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It has become increasingly clear that many of us need a break from social media. Not only is it demanding and time-consuming to create a constant stream of witty, entertaining content for our followers on Facebook and Instagram, there are also all the psychological side-effects of constantly comparing yourself to your friends. In short, it can be draining trying to keep up with the social media Joneses. Here are 3 signs it might finally be time for a digital detox.
Sign #1: You check social media at all hours of the day or night
If you are literally taking your phone to bed with you so that you can check your social media accounts before going to bed and as soon as you wake up, you might have a real problem. It’s just as easy to become addicted to social media as it is anything else. Psychologists are just now starting to understand how each “like” and every “thumbs up” acts as a powerful dopamine rush for the brain, laying the foundation for social media addiction.
As a result, it’s best to set aside a time at night when you turn off the laptop, tablet or smartphone. According to some sleep therapists who have seen signs of sleep exhaustion in heavy social media users, it’s best to turn everything off at least one hour before bedtime. Staring at a tiny blue light screen just before going to bed, they say, is equivalent for going for a jog around your block in bright sunlight. No wonder you’re not sleeping well at night.
Sign #2: You experience feelings of anxiety or depression
For some people, social media is a form of competitive sport. It’s a way of saying “look at me and my wonderful life.” As a result, your Facebook newsfeed is probably filled with photos of beautiful people on wonderful vacations. Everything, of course, has been carefully edited and filtered. You won’t see the tiny hotel room with a view of the hotel dumpster – instead, you’ll get one of those annoying “feet photos” of people sprawled out on a nice deck chair or sun bed on the beach, with the ocean carefully positioned between their two feet.
No wonder people often experience feelings of anxiety or depression after checking social media. A quick check to see if your friend has posted photos yet of an event like a birthday party might lead you down a rabbit-hole of emotions and suppressed feelings. Thus, if you often check Facebook or Instagram and walk away feeling worse, not better, about your life, it’s time to step away.
Sign #3: You experience recurring tiredness for no good reason
It’s one thing to feel tired or exhausted after a day of intense exercise – but psychologists are now reporting that people feel exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue simply after a long day of checking social media and trying to post as much content as possible. As one psychologist told USA Today, “Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can wear you out.”
In many ways, relentlessly checking social media can lead to a vicious cycle of unintended consequences. For example, checking Facebook too often could make you feel depressed and anxious about your own life, which in turn leads to you sleeping less, which in turn makes you even more anxious and depressed. So if you start to notice any of the three signs above, it could be a strong signal to disconnect and launch a digital detox.