Why A Social Media Break Is More Important Than You Think, According To An Expert

It's common nowadays to exchange social media handles on a first date or be shocked if someone doesn't have any social media. Just like the internet, social media is so pervasive it's basically a given in everyday life. Of course, the internet can be extremely useful, and it's hard to imagine a time before Google. Our different feeds alert us to what's going on every second of the day. Of course, this also makes it way too easy to consume and spread misinformation, which is something to look out for in our always-on news cycle.

With that said, social media can take its toll. Regardless of its helpfulness, using social accounts all the time can really mess with your perception of yourself, others, and sometimes reality. "I believe social media breaks are crucial for mental health," naturopathy expert Julius Cermak told Glam. "Especially as new users are getting younger every year, normalizing media breaks is important for proper health."

Cermack is a naturopathic herbalist at Deer Antler Velvet and an integrative wellness specialist. Naturopathic medicine looks to find natural antidotes to promote natural healing in the body. This can include things like natural herbs but also things like massages, acupuncture, and even simple exercise. So with his knowledge of using natural remedies to create the healthiest person possible, Cermack explains why social media breaks are so important.

Social media promotes unhealthy comparisons

Even though people don't typically create Instagram accounts with the intention of feeling bad about themselves, it happens a ton. Any social media platform where you see "perfect" people every day, promoting their spectacular life, always jet-setting off to somewhere tropical can really take a toll even if you don't mean for it to. "Social media has become a space for individuals to unintentionally judge and compare themselves," Julius Cermack says. It's hard not to compare your life with someone else's, even if you remind yourself that not everything is what it seems online.

"Just by scrolling down their regular feed, recent updates have allowed profiles you do not even follow to populate in that space," Cermack explains further. "By allowing yourself at least a two-week break, you are given the time to recognize what real-world things are happening around you and that the virtual world should not affect you."

This time off can benefit you by cultivating better self-esteem because you're taking away anything to compare yourself to. You're unconsciously "competing" with others, which can often make it hard to be content with your current situation. And the younger the social media user, the worse their self-confidence can plummet from these unhealthy judgments and seemingly perfect social media influencers. That's why social media breaks are particularly helpful to younger folks online.

Too much screen time can mess with your brain

Losing self-esteem is not a great byproduct of excessive social media use, but physical side effects can occur too. Cermack says that the amount of time we're staring at our phones has "affected our ability to sleep properly." It is a proven fact that blue light from phones or TV can really screw up your quality of sleep and sleep schedule as a whole. "By using our phone right in the morning, we force our brain to go a million miles an hour when it should be waking up slowly," he says. "This is similarly the case at night when our thoughts can become restless with overstimulation. Our actions have an effect on our nervous system." 

A social media break can help with this issue of too much screen time. To get a better idea of how much phone consumption you're taking in, Cermack points out the Screen Time setting on iPhones. You can see a daily and weekly rundown of your screen time and which apps you're using the most. It is helpful in how specific it is and also has a handy tool that says how much your screen time has gone up or down from the previous week and by how much, percentage-wise. If you notice that your screen time is too high, or you want to challenge yourself to take a social media break, Cermack says that you can set limits via this setting.

You can become more at peace with yourself without your phone

In the same way that a social media break can help your self-esteem and stop you from comparing yourself to others, it can also put life into perspective and help you be more present at home. "Social medic breaks also allow us to become more mindful individuals," Cermack says. "Without having endless content to search through, we can begin to focus on our day-to-day life more attentively." While we might not be mindless zombies, social media can sometimes get overwhelming and slightly warp our sense of reality.

The whole concept of "touching grass" when some people are way too online and show it in their conversations is a real concept. It's important to be present in your real-life friendships and duties as you are online. "Mindfulness leads to more beneficial conversations with others, creating deeper relationships," the integrative wellness specialist tells us. "Although social media does allow us to connect with others all over the world, in-person connection is priceless and harder to come by."

A social media break could make you less anxious and more content

The last reason why a social media break is important to implement at some point is a combination of all the mental and physical side effects already listed. Cermack says that the break can make you "a less anxious person" and stops the judgments and comparisons you have of other people you follow. But social media breaks can also "give you a better sense of who you are as a person." There's nothing wrong with finding like-minded individuals or living in the moment of a trend, but losing yourself or making the internet your personality can really take a toll on your overall happiness.

Again, images uploaded online can be easily manipulated. And even if someone is promoting an extravagant lifestyle, you don't know if they're happy on the other side of their phone. That's why it's important to take that into perspective, which is easier during a social media break. "On social media, we tend to promote the best versions of ourselves," Cermack says. "In real life, we go through everyday endeavors and some are not always glorious." The naturopathy expert explains that taking the time you'd usually use to scroll through your feed to instead self-reflect or live in the moment is best for your overall mental health and creativity. He says, "These breaks inspire a better version of yourself to rise up."