Why It's Healthy To Take A Break From Social Media

Why It's Healthy To Take A Break From Social Media

It's healthy for people to be connected to the world, but psychologists say disconnecting from social media here and there can be even healthier.
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I hate being obsessive—with myself, with other people and especially with material things like my phone and everything in it.

But somehow, even when I repress those subconscious obsessions, there still seems to be one thing that consistently triggers a strange obsessive nature, allowing it to resurface and make me anxious. In today’s society, of course that would be social media—it’s just so addicting.

It wasn’t until an absurd encounter I experienced the other day that I realized I need to chill with my obsessive nature of grabbing my phone. It's like I'm constantly trying to balance my schedule with opening apps, clicking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, checking my e-mails—all while carrying out tasks of everyday life. It’s unhealthy that sometimes I drive with my phone in my lap because I don’t want to miss a phone call or an e-mail, or something that can obviously wait.

I really try my best to leave it in my purse and not constantly worry about being connected to the world. As I was driving in the midst of Philly’s traffic hour and hitting every single red light, I couldn’t help but to neurotically check my e-mail as I waited. I was having a frantic day bustling through the city and trying to do too many things at once—but the impulse to open the app without even looking down seemed to come naturally without a second thought. As I saw the light turn green out of my peripheral vision, I look up to see the yellow-cab in front of me was not moving and the driver was standing outside of his car, staring me dead in the face with a look that burned through my soul. It was a look of disgust combined with disappointment, and the weirdest part was—I didn’t even know he saw me reach for my phone.

I was confused, but at the same time, I knew exactly why he got all the way out of his car to blankly stare at me. He didn’t yell anything, he didn’t shake his head, or even make any expression at all—he just wanted to make a statement and I could see it in his eyes. I threw my phone on the passenger seat as he drove off and I disconnected from the virtual world for a while to focus on the real one.

Psychologists say our obsession with social media is driven by a combination of attempting to gain pleasure and trying to prevent anxiety—but in reality, it can actually do the opposite.

Psychologist and author, Larry Rosen, Ph.D., wrote a blog post on Psychology Today about his research dealing with neuroscience, psychology and technological interaction. He explains how the urge to naturally check our phones for pleasure releases “a squirt of dopamine or serotonin,” giving us a temporary, false reality of happiness.

“Whether we have received an alert or notification—an external interruption—or we are musing about missing out on something in our virtual social world—an internal interruption—is akin to obsession or compulsion, both of which are anxiety-driven issues,” Dr. Rosen said.

He explains how in the last few generations, technology advancement has drastically changed how people get their quick fix for attention from the outside world. People’s guilty pleasure of posting something to receive a reaction can be a tool for personal satisfaction, but it can also lead to anxiousness and yearning for a need for approval.

“We have not sunk to the level of a psychiatric disorder like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but we are not far away,” Dr. Rosen said.

It is important to stay connected with friends, but to not let the falsification of having a large network of social media friends be detrimental to our mental health. Spending some time disconnected from the virtual world seems to be the best therapy for reducing anxiousness, obsession, and FOMO (fear of missing out) when dealing with depression and anxiety in the real world.

A small network of close friends is always better than a huge network of fake ones.

Cover Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2015/09/06/00/45/sunset-926723_960_720.jpg

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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

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Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that.

I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions.

After everything life has put you through, you have still remained soft.

This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did.

You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself.

You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away.

Remember that it is OK to say no.

You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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Do College Campuses Offer Enough Supports For Students Experiencing Food Insecurity

Oftentimes Food Insecurity Can Link to Eating Disorders.

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Adolescents who are between the ages of 12 and 26, who experience body dissatisfaction are the most at-risk for eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, among many others. Additionally, several studies have found there could be a link between food insecurity and the onset of an eating disorder. Treatment for an eating disorder involves a multidisciplinary approach including services from a physician, dietitian, nurse, psychologist or psychiatrist, as well as involvement and support from parents and siblings. However, what support and resources are available to college students who may be living with food insecurity or eating disorders or both?

According to the book, Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder, written by James Lock and Daniel LeGrange, parents are advised to be active in their child's recovery, and should make changing disordered eating a priority. This means being available during meal times to reassure their struggling teenager, and possibly take time off from work. Additionally, the authors recommend that parents attempt to support their child's positive and supportive friendships and limit the influence the media has on their values in terms of weight and appearance. While this is possible and essential for parents of high school-age children, the role of the parent and support offered the individual affected by an eating disorder could change in a college setting, as the student will have more independence.

As a link between food insecurity and eating disorders potentially exists, and approximately 48 percent of the 3,765 participants in the "Hunger on Campus" study reported food insecurity. Additionally, the National Eating Disorder Association found that approximately 20 to 21 percent of 18 to 21 year old will progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders. If students in this age group are more prone to developing an eating disorder due to media and academic pressures, would students experiencing food insecurity become even more likely to develop an eating disorder?

According to a 2017 study conducted by Melissa Munn-Chernoff, individuals experiencing hunger insecurity were more likely to exhibit symptoms of eating disorders, such as binge eating, overeating, vomiting, laxative use, skipping at least two meals, exercising more and being concerned with weight and shape.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Health Sciences found college-aged students were more susceptible to experiencing stress related to food insecurity, which could lead to unproductive eating habits. While stress has been found to relate to eating disorders, it is unknown whether the onset of eating disorders among college students can be attributed in part to food insecurity. However, psycho-developmental factors such as life transitions, sociocultural factors such as peers, media and lifestyle, and neurochemical or genetic factors such as brain chemistries or DNA, are all contributors to the onset of an eating disorder. Stress from a life transition, such as moving into a dorm or apartment, and struggling to afford food, as well as other factors could contribute to eating disorders among college students.

Even with a meal plan, students still experienced food insecurity, reported the "Hunger on Campus" study. Without necessary on and off-campus resources to address food insecurity, and symptoms of an eating disorder, and a requisite support system, students may find recovery more challenging, requiring that they take a semester off, or transfer to a school closer to home.

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