In our technologically-driven and fast-paced society, we rarely take time to disconnect. That is, when we have downtime, we often turn to our screens and disengage, scrolling through endless social media. However, this behavior has the potential to significantly harm both mental and physical wellbeing. Understanding the downsides of social media is key, but it is not good enough alone – let’s flip the coin and consider all the ways in which it is beneficial to disconnect.
1. Improve Relationships
Let’s face it: being connected to your phone means it takes time away from, well, everything. This includes all of the important relationships in your life. Studies have shown that as we’ve become more technologically-oriented, our interpersonal relationship and those uniquely human skills have worsened. By prioritizing virtual connections, you inevitably-to some extent-neglect the people in front of you. Disconnecting from social media allows you to spend time with the people in your life and recognize areas which need improvements.
2. Improve Sleep
We’ve all heard about the harmful effects of the blue lights emitted from screens – they definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly. Blue light not only causes issues such as headaches, but it keeps you stimulated and awake for longer. Have you considered how often you activate your brain before bed? This has become a typical winding-down activity (which is ironically comical) and it’s thus no shock that there is a negative association between social media usage and sleep quality and quantity. Disconnecting, especially before bed, will help improve your sleep and in turn better your mental and physical health.
3. Decrease Anxiety
Can you imagine a time where social media wasn’t around? Our brains are literally programmed to react to stimulus and reward, and the phone acts as the stimulus. That is, with its constant pinging of texts, retweets, likes, and comments provide a dopamine surge, producing elation. This surge, however, quickly crashes, resulting in the desire for more. This craving produces anxiety, which simply drives you to seek more dopamine. And there it is – the toxic cycle of social media. Making time to disconnect will leave you with fewer stresses, as you will slowly discard the need to constantly be connected.
4. Increase Productivity
In the age of social media, it is no surprise that we have trouble allocating our time. There are temptations all over our screens making it near impossible focus and maintain a consistent work schedule. In fact, studies show that increased social media usage directly correlates with decreased productivity. Limiting social media time will permit you to devote more time to priority tasks, and your increased focus will lead to higher quality work.
5. Be Present
The enticing phone screen with its addictive properties lures us away from real life, encouraging engagement in the detached reality of social media. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone, only to watch them become entirely immersed in their phone? The worst. It’s not only frustrating and disrespectful, but it’s slightly scary to see how easily someone can check out. Regularly disconnecting allows you to connect with real life, creating time to improve relationships and work on yourself. Through becoming more attuned to the present moment, you will not only become more aware of your surroundings, but you will feel more connected to your entire mind and body.
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