Could A Social Media Break Help Your Mental Health, Depression and Anxiety? Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

Now I don't know about you, but in our house the most powerful threat of punishment I can call upon with my kids is to threaten to take away their screens and to switch off the wi-fi. There is nothing else that is as guaranteed to bring an expression of horror and fear upon their faces and to get them moving and doing whatever it is they are meant to be doing!

Screen time and social media use are things that have risen massively in recent times. At least in our house, I can usually reliably find my wife and kids engaged in something on their screen and pretty oblivious to the world around them. And, at least in the case of my kids, some of the stuff I've seen them watch on Tik Tok and the like just seems to me to be pure mind numbing nonsense (although that may be cause I'm old and out of touch, as they like to often remind me!). 

Now, of course, not all online social media use is of this type. There's much on it that can be informative, amusing and worthwhile. It can help in communicating, understanding, keeping up to date and sharing news. I use social media to find out things, to share work and life posts and photos and to keep in touch with people. It's a tool for enhancing life, communication and productivity.

Yet it seems clear that, for some people at least, social media can have a detrimental impact upon their well-being and mental health.

Social media can help you with finding support and encouraging talking about how you feel, yet all too often people start to feel their life isn't as good as others, and that they have less shiny things and fun and happiness and the like. Everyone likes to show the good stuff (real or otherwise) on social media, and those aspects of their lives that aren't as good get papered over and are kept from view.  Negative comparisons, a sense of not being as good, a feeling of lacking and too much unproductive, sedentary time can lead to negative thinking, feeling low, anxiety and have a negative impact upon your well-being and mental health.  

With so much time now spent with faces buried in screens, the question moves to whether taking a break from social media could have benefits for your mental health and help with you with the symptoms of anxiety and depression?  


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Now, one of the reasons I love us all getting out as a family is so that we aren't all just at home and engrossed in our own, solitary world on our screens. Yes, the phones come with us when we go out, mainly for photos (and for googling things to confirm that I'm right!). And recently we headed off and out and over to the zoo. Getting away from endless scrolling means we can chat and have fun, and we also know that time around nature and being active has positive impacts for mental health.

And here we are, having some family fun away from social media: 

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Taking A Break From Social Media: Well-Being, Depression and Anxiety 

With more and more of us using social media, and potentially spending more time on it, it's important to understand how it impacts upon our mental health and well-being.

Back a few years ago, I remember writing a piece for the Mail Online about ways to reduce your anxiety. One of the things I mentioned there was about reducing the amount of time spent on screens and social media, for some of the reasons I've just touched upon already. I remember there being a backlash of comments from some readers about how anxiety was around before social media and screens (so presumably, in their opinion, couldn't be a factor in anxiety). Yet just because humans have always had anxiety, doesn't mean that social media use can't contribute to it now, or that how you use your screens can't exacerbate issues such as depression and anxiety. The thinking patterns and feelings of anxiety and depression can adapt to situations and circumstances and the sort of information coming your way. 

There is already some evidence that links social media use and an increased likelihood of depression and reduced well-being.  And, of course, because the content and information we engage in drives what appears in future, it is possible to enter into a loop that strengthens any negative adverse thoughts and feelings. Any sense of low self-worth, lowness or excessive worry can be exacerbated by the information that is filtered our way and by any need for external validation (through views and likes at so on).

And if you have a tendency for doomscrolling, then that comes into play here too. There's more about doomscrolling, social media and smartphone use and anxiety and depression over in this article: Doomscrolling, Anxiety & Your Mental Health

So, if you are able to break away from social media for a while (or detox if you prefer), how would this impact upon your well-being and any depression and anxiety?

A recent study aimed to answer this question by seeking to understand the effects of a one week break from social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok) on well-being, depression, and anxiety compared with using social media as usual (Lambert et al, 2022). 

They randomly allocated 154 adult participants to either stop using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok) for one week or to continue to use social media as usual. The results showed that asking people to stop using social media for a week led to significant improvements in well-being, depression, and anxiety. The study adds to the evidence that suggests that short breaks in social media can positively impact upon your mental health.  

Now, of course, in this day and age coming off all social media could be a tricky affair given how much we all rely upon it. However, rather than finding your time, focus, thoughts and feelings being driven by social media apps, it can be positive for your well-being to take back control over how you engage and make use of social media. And, this research certainly suggests that, if you want to boost your well-being and lessen anxiety and depression, then taking regular time out (or at least limiting how much time you spend daily on social media), could well be worth any sense of effort or sacrifice.  

To your happiness,

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

 

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Reference:

Lambert, J., Barnstable, G., Minter, E., Cooper, J. and McEwan, D., 2022. Taking a one-week break from social media improves well-being, depression, and anxiety: a randomized controlled trial. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking25(5), pp.287-293.