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Insight of the Day: Can a Break From Social Media Improve Mental Health?

Taking a break from social media can indeed have positive effects on mental health. Research studies have shown that such breaks can lead to reduced anxiety, depression, and improved overall well-being. Here are some key points:

1. Research Findings:

- A 2022 study involving 154 participants (average age of 29.6 years) asked them to either stop using social media for one week (including platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok) or continue using it as usual.

- The group that took a break from social media experienced significantly reduced anxiety and depression, along with greater well-being.

- Among university students, another study of 555 participants found that a one-week break from social media meaningfully decreased stress levels, especially for those who excessively used social media.

- Additionally, a study involving girls ages 10-19 demonstrated that a three-day social media break significantly lowered their body surveillance (such as worrying about clothing flattering their bodies) and increased their self-compassion.

2. Why Social Media Breaks Boost Mental Health:

- Using social media often involves comparison with others, which can lead to appearance comparisons, career frustration, and envy.

- Decreasing social media use can help reduce self-criticism, a common mental habit linked to various mental health issues (anxiety, depression, substance use, eating disorders, self-harm).

3. Strategies to Decrease Social Media Use:

- Consider both "software" and "hardware" strategies:

- Software: Delete social media apps from your phone but keep them on a laptop or desktop computer.

- Hardware: Switch your phone to grayscale mode or keep it further away from your body (e.g., not in your pocket).

- Trying a flip phone for a month is another option.

Remember that taking breaks from social media can be beneficial for mental well-being.

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