4 Ways to Detox from Social Media to Improve Mental & Physical Health
Author: Nicole Cieslak, FNTP
We made it to 2021. Although a new year represents new beginnings and possibility, the reality of our current world is that we are still amidst a massive pandemic that has been affecting our minds and bodies in ways we never imagined.
If you caught my previous post covering how the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected our stress levels, then you are already aware of the toll it’s taking on our body. But you’ve also likely been experiencing this firsthand.
With a majority of us being stuck at home in some capacity, we are spending more time scrolling through social media. Below, we'll discuss 4 ways to detox from social media to improve mental and physical health.
Why Detox from Social Media?
Social media can have an addictive quality to it that provides positive reinforcement by activating the reward center of our brain and releasing dopamine. However, our social media feeds are also filled with posts and images of negativity that may be adding to our already high stress and anxiety levels.
In fact, research shows that increased social media activity leads to higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress amongst adolescents and adults. In a systematic review of social media usage, 70 percent of participants in one study self reported an increase in depressive symptoms. Other health concerns include feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out), unrealistic expectations and comparisons, and a rise in sedentary behavior.
4 Ways to Detox From Social Media
So what are some activities you could be doing instead of perusing your social feeds? Here are four of our favorite ways to safely spend time with our loved ones or invest in more self-care.
1. Spend more time in nature
Being outside in the fresh air and sunshine is one of the best things you can do for your health, assuming that you live in an area where you are able to safely social distance. Direct sunshine boosts our vitamin D levels, which is an essential nutrient crucial for preventing depression and boosting immunity. And physical activity and movement help to strengthen our immune system, stimulate digestion and lymph flow, enhance our mood and generally improve our quality of life by reducing our risk of modern diseases.
Whether you go for a walk, take a weekend hike or explore your community by bicycle, it never hurts to shake out those limbs and get that blood flowing.
2. Play more board games
If you’re like me then perhaps you went through a huge puzzle phase at the start of the pandemic. It was a great way to kill time, but now that we’re nearly a year into COVID-19, we’ve forgotten about our old board games that are collecting dust. The mental stimulation from a game can help rewire our brain and improve cognition, but it can also provide a few good laughs.
Many people have been hosting game nights via Zoom with close friends and family. Laughter has been said to help boost immune function, lower blood pressure and reduce our stress hormones as well as our anxiety. With virtually no downsides to laughter, why not give it a go?
3. Try yoga, meditation and deep breathing
Restorative activities like yoga, mediation, and deep breathing can be incredibly helpful for reducing our depression and anxiety. It allows us to feel more grounded and balanced during unsettling times. Deep breathing is especially helpful for getting our bodies out of a “fight or flight” sympathetic stress state into a “rest and digest” parasympathetic healing state.
The beauty of it is that you can do yoga, meditation, and deep breathing anywhere and it helps rewires our brains to focus on the positives so that we can move away from negative thought patterns and behavior. There are plenty of free yoga flows on YouTube and many meditation apps like the Calm App or Headspace that can provide a guided practice for you.
4. Find a new crafting or home improvement project
Maybe you’ve been wanting to try knitting or paint those bedroom walls. While activities that are physical in nature are beneficial, we don’t have to limit ourselves. As long as the activity at hand is bringing you joy, making you smile or is fulfilling you in any way, then that’s a huge win. So if there’s something that you’ve been putting off or have been considering doing, now is the time. You’re never too old and it’s never too late to try a new thing!
The team at Wise Woman Herbals just completed a seven day social media detox and we are encouraging you to unplug and stop the scroll as well. One of the easiest ways to quell any temptation is to delete your social apps from your mobile phone during the length of your detox. Having a support system or a social media detox buddy can also be helpful for accountability as well. The goal isn’t to demonize social media. It’s to understand how it may be affecting our mental and physical health and to find balance.
While you may find yourself reaching for your phone the first few days of your Social Media Detox, that reflex usually goes away once you begin to focus on activities that bring true joy.
Nicole Cieslak is a functional nutritional therapy practitioner and certified personal trainer at Fit Foodist Nutrition specializing in gut health and hormone balance. Every day she strives to help people overcome chronic digestive and hormonal issues by getting to the root cause of their health imbalances. Through personalized diet, lifestyle and nutritional supplement recommendations, she empowers her clients to find freedom from suffering so they can reclaim their happiness and health. Learn more about her at thefitfoodist.com and follow her on Instagram at @fitfoodist_foundations for free health, fitness and beauty advice