What's the first thing you do when you wake up? Brush your teeth? Take a shower? Grab a coffee? For me, it's reach for my phone to check for new notifications, news, emails and messages. If you have the same bad habit, don't worry you aren't alone.
Here is a question for you; do you remember your routine before any kind of social media platform existed?
I'm talking circa 2008, before the apparition of the epitome of social media, Facebook. Before Facebook became well known around the world, you were probably enjoying leisure activities and hobbies more. Such as reading, taking walks, playing games, listening to music and watching movies. The fear of missing out and the need to watch people's lives on a screen wasn't a thing. Fast forward 10 years and Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and snapchat all occupy a big part of our daily lives.
I'm not saying social media is all bad- my work is practically all done through social media, creating content, connecting with like-minded people and sharing and learning through my passions and other peoples' too. I just think it's important to keep a balance and know when to take time away from all the apps and platforms.
Stress and social media
For some, social media use can lead to higher levels of stress. The relationship between stress and social media use is indirect. Our social use of digital technology can increase awareness of either upsetting or comparative events in others' lives, which in turn explains how users end up feeling more stress.
Social media platforms are crowded with different people who have different perspectives. Positive comments you get on your posts could make you feel great but negative comments could also haunt you. When you read a post that is encouraging, it builds on your mental health. But reading a post full of bad things could leave you with feelings of anxiety and sadness. Parents are also stressed whenever they come across posts they feel their children are not supposed to see.
Staggering stats on the addiction to smart phones
- The average smartphone owner unlocks their phone 150 times a day.
- Using smartphones for longer intervals of time changes brain chemistry.
- 66% of the world's population shows signs of nomophobia.
- 71% usually sleep with or next to their mobile phone.
Smartphones have become a permanent factor in our daily lives in the last 10 years. Even now you are probably reading this on a mobile or tablet.
We take them for granted, but do we stop, even for a second to ask ourselves how often do we use them? Statistics show that users spend on average 2 hours and 51 minutes a day on their smartphones.
Smartphones are so addictive because the thought of them releases dopamine and oxytocin. The thing is though, these hormones are soon metabolized. So you need to do more to get more. No wonder we think of our phones over and over again!
Tips for a social media detox:
- Sleep with your phone set to airplane mode and even better, set it outside your room.
- Schedule some lockdown time during the day where you put it away, giving you some time for yourself to discover and take on new hobbies. I like to leave my phone at my house while at the neighborhood park with my kids. It makes me more present with them and enjoy the moment.
- Delete your apps for a period of time. Trust me on this. You might feel like you'll miss out on information, news and stuff that's happening on Instagram. But it doesn't matter. You don't need to know everything that is going on. By simply cleaning up the unused apps and deleting the ones you do use for a few days, it will definitely make you realize how much time you normally spend on there.
- Turn off all your push notifications. It does not only save your battery life, it also saves you from a lot of distractions. Turn off all your push notifications from email, chat, and social media applications. In case of really urgent matters, people will give you a call.
- Use natural remedies to soothe and relax your nervous system such as herbal teas of chamomile and valerian root. Passionflower is also an excellent herb that has been shown to relax the parasympathetic nervous system. Studies have shown it to relieve insomnia and anxiety by boosting the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. This compound lowers brain activity, which may help you relax and sleep better.
- You can also take Avenaforce, an amazing A.Vogel product made with Avena sativa (oats), which are renowned to reinforce the nervous system. Both relaxing and stimulating Avena sativa helps you achieve mental balance by calming active, restless minds and improving concentration. Avenaforce is made from fresh flowering Avena sativa.
Although social media is a viable way to document your life, it can also become a burden that takes you out of the moment. If you're living everything through the lens of social media instead of directly interacting with it, your experiences will be of lower quality and become less memorable.
After writing all of this on my smartphone, in my bed, right before bed (a bit too honest there Audrey?!), I think I need to take these tips and apply them to my own life.
Don't forget that nobody's life is perfect, no matter what is shown on social media. Let's choose to spend more time enjoying our own real lives in the physical world, experiencing the moment without having the need to share it with the world through virtual means.