Social Media and Your Wellbeing
Pausing on social media for just one week could lead to significant improvements in your wellbeing, depression, and anxiety and could be recommended in the future as a way to help people manage their mental health, say the authors of a new study.
The study, carried out by a team of researchers at the University of Bath (UK), studied the mental health effects of a week-long social media break. For some participants in the study, this freed up around nine hours of their week which would otherwise have been spent scrolling Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok. Their results (published in the US journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking) suggest that just one week off social media improved individuals’ overall level of well-being while reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
For the study, the researchers randomly allocated 154 individuals aged 18 to 72 who used social media every day into either an intervention group, where they were asked to stop using all social media for one-week or a control group, where they could continue scrolling as normal. At the beginning of the study, baseline scores for anxiety, depression and wellbeing were taken.
Participants reported spending an average of 8 hours per week on social media at the start of the study. One week later, the participants who were asked to take the one-week break had significant improvements in wellbeing, depression, and anxiety than those who continued to use social media, suggesting a short-term benefit. Participants also reported a reduction of social media usage–an average of 21 minutes, compared to an average of seven hours. Screen usage statistics were provided to check that individuals had adhered to the break.
Dr. Jeff Lambert, lead researcher from Bath’s Department for Health, explains: “Scrolling social media is so ubiquitous that many of us do it almost without thinking from the moment we wake up to when we close our eyes at night. We know that social media usage is huge and that there are increasing concerns about its mental health effects, so with this study, we wanted to see whether simply asking people to take a week’s break could yield mental health benefits. Many of our participants reported positive effects from being off social media with improved mood and less anxiety overall. This suggests that even just a small break can have an impact.”
Feeling ‘low’ and losing pleasure are core characteristics of depression, whereas anxiety is characterized by excessive and out of control worry. Wellbeing refers to an individual’s level of positive affect, life satisfaction and sense of purpose. According to the Mind*, one in six of us experience a common mental health problem like anxiety and depression in any given week.
Jeffrey Lambert, George Barnstable, Eleanor Minter, Jemima Cooper, Desmond McEwan. Taking a One-Week Break from Social Media Improves Well-Being, Depression, and Anxiety: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2022; DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2021.0324
*The Mind, a non-profit organization in the UK focusing on mental health resources and government policy
Creating Healthy Social Boundaries
It’s important to take care of your social health throughout the year, and especially during the holiday season! Understanding how to set personal limits is essential for your social health and can help you build and maintain your relationships.
When setting personal limits, it can be difficult to understand what boundaries are and how to set them with others. Social boundaries help us to avoid feelings of resentment, disappointment, and anger that can occur when limits have been pushed too far.
Setting healthy boundaries helps you to:
- Share personal information appropriately (not too much or too little)
- Identify and communicate your personal needs and wants
- Value your own opinions
- Say “no,” and accept when others tell you “no”
If you’re not sure how to create or uphold healthy social boundaries, follow the tips below:
- Be consistent with your boundaries. If you let boundaries slide, it could lead to confusion, or it can encourage new expectations in your relationship dynamic.
- Try to keep things consistent and steady.
Make time for yourself. Consider setting aside an hour or two each week for yourself. This helps you to reconnect with yourself and keep yourself accountable to goals or personal aspirations.
- Communicate with others. Ensure you express when your boundaries have been crossed. This will help you to have healthy conversations about any concerns you may have and avoid confrontation.
Source: Pattemore, C. (2021, June 3). 10 ways to build and preserve better boundaries. Psych Central.
– Mental Health Moment –
Preventing Holiday Burnout
According to research, nearly half of employees are burnt out at work. The World Health Organization defines burnout as “a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been adequately managed.” Everyday life is hectic enough without the added stress of attending celebrations, coordinating gift-giving, planning finances, and balancing various family obligations during the holiday season. Even though levels of burnout are high, there are ways to help avoid burnout and manage your stress so you can enjoy your holiday season.
Set Realistic Expectations
It’s impossible to do everything. When the holidays hit, there are a lot of moving pieces to consider for a successful holiday season. Setting realistic expectations is crucial so you don’t overcommit to tasks.
Spreading out your tasks and starting early will help with stress levels, as it removes the last-minute rush. Consider the following ways to prepare ahead of time:
- Send digital invitations for parties or hosted events at least two weeks in advance.
- Make necessary purchases a few weeks in advance.
- Decorate a few days before any hosted events.
- Arrange food plans, such as who’s bringing certain dishes to share, at least one week in advance.
Take Time to Recharge
It’s essential to make time for activities that refuel you, such as reading, spending time with friends and going on outdoor walks. Taking time for yourself creates a balanced schedule by focusing on more than just work and the holidays.