We’ve all become accustomed to spending our free time on social media. Whether you’re taking a break from work or just passing time, you take out your phone to see what’s happening online.
Without knowing it, you’re spending two or more hours on social media (including YouTube) every day. It might seem like you only use it for a few minutes because you check it in spurts but, those minutes add up.
Spending too much time on social media is not good for your mental health (or your eyes, for that matter. Why do you think blue-light glasses were invented?).
Social media’s not bad, but there’s a lot of negativity. Bad news. Drama. Influencer lifestyles that make you feel left behind or like a failure. It distracts you from the present moment.
If you want to fight your addiction, then start replacing the habit of opening social media with these five things.
1. Get Lost in a Book
When I have the urge to go on social media, I grab my kindle and read. If you can, I highly recommend purchasing a kindle. It’s small, convenient, and easy to carry around. Of course, physical books will do too.
One of the biggest problems with social media is the negative effects it has on mental health, such as depression, anxiety, frustration, and stress. Reading, however, has positive effects on both your mental and psychological health.
Healthline shared, “In 2009, a group of researchers measured the effects of yoga, humor, and reading on the stress levels of students in demanding health science programs in the United States. The study found that 30 minutes of reading lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress just as effectively as yoga and humor did.”
Reading makes you happy in ways social media doesn’t. You don’t have to read a whole book in a day — the point is to replace your habit. Instead of liking picture after picture on Instagram during a break, read five pages of your book.
2. Take a Nap
If you’re going to take a longer break, use the opportunity to nap. Some people think naps are a waste of time or that they’re for children, but they’re good for adults too. If you find yourself feeling angry or frustrated, a nap is proven to boost your mood.
According to Sleep Foundation, you’ll also wake up re-energized and with restored focus. If you’re heading back to work, this is exactly what you want.
If you’re tired, social media isn’t going to wake you up. Some people feel drowsy after they wake from a nap, but that’s probably because they’re sleeping for the wrong amount of time.
Healthline recommends sleeping for ten to thirty minutes. They share that a nap this long will improve:
- psychomotor speed
- reaction time
I wouldn’t recommend them if they didn’t work for me. When I’m tired, I can’t focus, and I’m irritable. A forty-five-minute nap will completely turn my day around, and I’m able to concentrate and work.
3. Practice Doing Nothing
My grandparents only use their cellphones for calls and texts, which is why they’re not addicted. They can sit outside for hours, staring at nothing, letting their brains ruminate.
We can’t do that. We feel awkward, get bored, and start fidgeting because our brains need the hit of dopamine we’re accustomed to getting every few minutes through our devices.
But doing nothing is good for you. In his Ted Talk, “How to Get Your Brain to Focus,” productivity consultant Chris Bailey recommends rediscovering and embracing boredom. When you’re bored:
- your attention span increases;
- you can find solutions to problems, and;
- you come up with creative ideas since you’re allowing your brain to wander and make connections.
When I force myself to put my device down and focus on the present and everything surrounding me, I feel more connected to the world and the people around me. It feels wonderful to give your brain a break and let it do its thing.
4. Stretch Your Body
Since we work on our laptops, use our phones often, read and watch tv shows, we sit for much longer than we should.
Harvard stated that sitting in a chair all day can result, “in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which inhibits walking.” Plus, just as when you walk too much, your legs tire from inaction.
Your wrists, back, and shoulders are also at risk. The solution? Stretching. Instead of taking five minutes to check Snapchat, use those five minutes to move your body. It’s crucial you do this throughout the day — not just during your workout in the morning or at night.
Forbes wrote, “Regular stretching helps increase your range of motion in the joints, improves blood circulation and posture and alleviates muscular tension throughout the body.”
Every twenty-minutes, thirty-minutes, or hour (lots of sources say differently) stretch your arms, wrists, and legs. Here are videos by professionals to help:
- 10 Best Lower Back Stretches for Low Back Pain Relief
- Fix Wrist Pain With These Exercises. Stretching Routine for Relief
- Yoga For Tired Legs — Yoga With Adriene
5. Talk With Your Family
Stop opening your apps to have conversations, and start talking to the people around you. Speak with the person who’s probably sitting on the other end of the couch as we speak.
Face to face interaction is vital for humans. Medical News Today shared a quote by psychologist Susan Pinker:
“Face-to-face contact releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters and, like a vaccine, they protect you now, in the present, and well into the future, so simply […] shaking hands, giving somebody a high-five is enough to release oxytocin, which increases your level of trust, and it lowers your cortisol levels, so it lowers your stress.”
I always end up having a better time when I go upstairs and talk to my sisters rather than scrolling on social media for the twentieth time. Instead of building a following, build your real-life connection.
Talk with your parents, siblings, partner, roommates, friends. They’re craving real-life connections as much as you are. Laugh genuinely, laugh hard. Touch people. It matters.
You have friends and connections on social media, I understand that. But there’s more to life than that. Treat your body and brain better and form stronger connections with the people who are around you right now.
Social media doesn’t need to be addicting if you don’t let it. If you’re not interested in becoming a robot, a drone, then put your phone down and let yourself be.
You won’t be perfect. I have days when I use social media more than I work. That happens, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to be better.