The Effect of Social Media on Mental Health in the Era of COVID-19

Why Taking a Break From Social Media Is Important for Your Mental Health

Is your mental health suffering in a time of COVID? You’re certainly not alone. The digital landscape seems hopelessly negative and combative these days, to the point that even a few minutes online can prompt feelings of hopelessness or despair.

The Value of Social Media Breaks: What the Research Says

A growing body of research supports the value of unplugging. Perhaps most notable: a 2016 study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. This one-week experiment involving over 1,000 participants found that those who successfully took time off from social media reported greater life satisfaction. Those who reported heavy Facebook usage saw the greatest benefits upon taking a hiatus.

A similar study published in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology concluded that those who limited common social media sites to just ten minutes per day were less likely to suffer loneliness and anxiety. In other studies, participants who purposefully kept social media usage to a minimum reported better relationships with friends and an improved perception of their station in life.

How to Take a Break from Social Media

Unfortunately, cutting yourself off from social media is easier said than done. While it might seem simple to just ban yourself from Facebook and Instagram, you’ll find it far easier to carry through if you make an active effort to avoid social media reminders.

Begin by removing related icons and notifications from all devices. Better yet, download apps specifically designed to block social media. Favorites include Freedom and Offtime.

Social support also helps. Make a pact with friends or family members to take a break at the same time, and, instead, communicate via text or phone calls. This will help you feel connected while avoiding FOMO.