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6 reasons why social media break is healthy for you

Updated: Nov 13, 2022

Should I take a break from social media? Am I spending too much time on social media? Is social media affecting my life and work negatively? These are the questions that you may find yourself asking when you noticed that the quality of your life is declining when you don’t manage your social media usage. In this article, we will look at how social media detox can improve your mental and physical health.

1. Alleviate symptoms of depression

Let’s be honest, we all compare ourselves with each other on social media. Do you know that the act of social comparison when you use social media can contribute to depressive symptoms such as self-loathing and losing interest in daily activities?

When you compare yourself with someone who is more attractive or popular than you, you would feel a sense of hopelessness and have a reduced self-image of yourself. This can lead to depressive episodes when not managed properly.

Ever heard of emotional contagion? It's the concept that other people’s emotions can be transmitted to you. It’s part of what makes us empathetic social beings, not without a cost.

It is well-researched that when you interact with others face to face, you will experience this phenomenon of emotional contagion. Apparently, this applies to the interaction that we have in the digital space as well.

A study conducted in 2015 on emotional contagion with online content among social media users has shown that by interacting with emotion-filled online posts, their emotional states were easily manipulated. This study was conducted among 3800 participants by E. Ferrara and Z. Yang.

Whether you realise it or not, the emotional contagion that we experience when we use social media also contributes to our depressive episodes. Social media is known as a place for people to express their feelings and that includes negative ones. The negativity that comes with people sharing their problems can affect your own emotional state, as you mirror theirs.

2. Break your addiction from social media

If you use social media, you should now realize that these platforms are specifically designed to pull you into its vortex of endless scrolling. It is designed to hold your attention for a prolonged period of time.

That is the main reason why you’re so glued down to your screen when social media apps are installed on your phone. How do social media platforms hold your attention?

Invoking the sense of FOMO; the fear of missing out. Since everyone has at least one account on these social platforms, there is a constant update from this online community on current events, sharing news and new content all day non-stop.

Consuming these pieces of information becomes addictive as you crave a sense of social inclusion, and these social platforms provide you with that, without having an authentic face-to-face connection.

Inducing dopamine release for instant gratification. By consuming the streams of content and social updates, we feel a sense of accomplishment and reward as we use social media.

This behaviour transforms into a loop of action that turns into habits, especially with ‘endless scrolling’ features that most social media utilised. Addiction is a result of this neurological occurrence when you use social media without being intentional about it.

3. Manage your social anxiety

Social comparison is one of the major factors influencing the way you perceive yourself, in terms of your social status and body image. Social media is the perfect venue for social comparison as the online community constantly shares their life updates, particularly their best ones.

When your mind compares these high moments that people share while you’re at a low point in life, you would feel like you’re inferior to others. This is a fundamentally unhealthy way of looking at one’s own status as it doesn’t reflect the reality in which everyone has their own high and low moment in life.

On the flip side, social media gives you a sense of a superiority complex. For example, when you’re comparing your following which has more numbers than certain people, it gives you this sense of being better than that person.

However, one might say this is beneficial for your own individual confidence. Still, it is widely agreed that no matter how good you are in comparison with others, there’s always going to be someone who is better than you in that particular field. That also means that you will always feel a sense of lack as long as you compare your social status with others.

This culture of comparing one’s social status with their online presence can be detrimental to their psychological health when it comes to building any relationship. Being insecure about your image and constantly trying to prove your own worth to people online is the recipe for social anxiety that will inevitably be carried outside in real life as well.

4. Setting boundaries for yourself

You would agree that social media is overwhelming at times. The pressure to reply to every single comment you get from your post, or even the pressure of not getting any likes from your social profile. You know that feeling of desperation when your social profile is stagnant and not getting any attention from people online makes you feel like you need to post something to get their attention.

Either way, we can agree that these social pressures exist in the digital realm and they are most of the time unnecessary. We know how to detach ourselves from these pressures (that is by simply quitting social media) but we are not willing to leave our online presence as it has been a huge part of our identity.

For someone who is recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety, social media with its anxiety-ridden content is not the best place to be. It is recommended that you take a break from social media to detach yourself from these social noises.

Imagine not having to deal with all the drama that you see online among friends or public figures. Imagine being free from those noises and feeling at peace being with yourself, and real people.

It’s hard to set social boundaries on social media as everyone is accessible. Yes, you do have the preference to make your profile private but let’s be real here, even your close friends sometimes share unnecessary drama online.

5. Get you out of loneliness

Admit it, you feel lonely despite the constant interaction you get on social media. But don’t worry, we all do because each one of us is lacking the nourishment from an authentic sense of belonging that we truly deserve.

We depend on social media for this social longing. It’s like relying on nicotine for calmness instead of clearing your mind with a more compassionate meditation. It gives you a sense of relief in the short term, yet damaging in the long term. (sorry smokers, it’s a fact)

Based on a study conducted with 7,000 participants, it was found that those who spend the most time on social media are 200% more likely to report a sense of social isolation. These include relationships that are unfulfilling and lack a sense of belonging.

Do you ever feel envious towards that particular friend who is always living life luxuriously and always being happy online? Envy comes from comparing yourself to other people’s superior qualities. Having envy gives rise to a sense of social isolation and distorts your view of your own self-worth.

By taking a social media break, you remove yourself from potentially being envious o something that is not real; like this unattainable ideal life portrayed on social media.

6. Improve your sleep quality

Do you notice that you’re having trouble sleeping at night? Perhaps your social media usage is the culprit.

When you use social media in bed, that will increase the chance of you having difficulty with sleeping. The blue light emitted from your screen disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm as it tricks you into feeling like it's daytime instead of night-time, a time for you to sleep!

This is why you find yourself sleeping late at night which leads to sleep deprivation if you have a schedule that requires you to show up early in the morning for work. Going to work looking like a zombie is not an ideal state to be productive.

In addition to that, the stress and anxiety that comes with using social media also contribute to the decline in your ability to have a healthy sleep.


When you take a break from social media, you will learn more about yourself by noticing your withdrawal symptoms, particularly your dopamine craving for social acceptance. You will start to realise that you’ve been relying on social media in defining your identity as a person and that is unhealthy.

It is unhealthy to have an unbridled dependence on the external for your source of fulfilment and meaning for your existence. It is not to say social media is pure evil. It is to emphasize that social media is a tool for you to share and connect with the online community, rather than being too immersed in it that you neglect the real world.

Start by being intentional in everything that you do. This is the one thing that I urge everyone starts doing today. Exercise your freedom.

When you use your social media, use it with awareness of why you’re using it. Is it for networking or is it for your lack of social acceptance in real life?

If taking a break from social media seems like jumping into the cold water for you, I recommend taking baby steps by reducing your phone usage incrementally. One simple step you can do now is by grayscaling your phone.

I wrote an article specifically on why you should start turning on that grayscale mode on your phone. The trick is to make your phone less interesting and slowly you’ll use your phone less which also translates to a reduced time spent on social media.

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